Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 633–659 | Cite as

Processing “d-Linked” Phrases

  • Lyn Frazier
  • Charles CliftonJr.Email author


Linguists draw a distinction between two types of interrogatives: discourse linked (d-linked) phrases such as which man, which implies the existence of a set of contextually determined entities (men) from which the speaker is asking for a choice, and non–d-linked interrogatives such as who, which carry no such implication. Two questionnaires and an on-line reading study showed that readers prefer a d-linked phrase more than a non–d-linked phrase as the antecedent for a pronoun, suggesting that d-linked phrases are immediately instantiated in a discourse representation that is checked during the process of pronoun interpretation. Comparable difficulty is not observed for non–d-linked interrogatives. A questionnaire and an on-line listening study also showed that readers and listeners were more willing to accept a grammatical “island violation” containing a pronoun when the pronoun's antecendent was a d-linked interrogative than when the antecedent was non–d-linked, suggesting that they check a discourse representation for the pronoun antecedent. All results suggest that d-linked phrases are immediately interpreted in a discourse representation, not just in a syntactic representation.

Discourse linking anaphora syntax-semantics interface semantic interpretation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MassachusettsAmherst

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