Processing the noun phrase versus sentence coordination ambiguity: Thematic information does not completely eliminate processing difficulty
Hoeks, J. C. J., Hendriks, P., Vonk, W., Brown, C. M., & Hagoort, P.
Processing the noun phrase versus sentence coordination ambiguity: Thematic information does not completely eliminate processing difficulty. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59
, 1581-1899. doi:10.1080/17470210500268982.
When faced with the noun phrase (NP) versus sentence (S) coordination ambiguity as in, for example, The thief shot the jeweller and the cop hellip, readers prefer the reading with NP-coordination (e.g., "The thief shot the jeweller and the cop yesterday") over one with two conjoined sentences (e.g., "The thief shot the jeweller and the cop panicked"). A corpus study is presented showing that NP-coordinations are produced far more often than S-coordinations, which in frequency-based accounts of parsing might be taken to explain the NP-coordination preference. In addition, we describe an eye-tracking experiment investigating S-coordinated sentences such as Jasper sanded the board and the carpenter laughed, where the poor thematic fit between carpenter and sanded argues against NP-coordination. Our results indicate that information regarding poor thematic fit was used rapidly, but not without leaving some residual processing difficulty. This is compatible with claims that thematic information can reduce but not completely eliminate garden-path effects.