Language processing in the natural world

Michael K. Tanenhaus, Sarah Brown-Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The authors argue that a more complete understanding of how people produce and comprehend language will require investigating real-time spoken-language processing in natural tasks, including those that require goal-oriented unscripted conversation. One promising methodology for such studies is monitoring eye movements as speakers and listeners perform natural tasks. Three lines of research that adopt this approach are reviewed: (i) spoken word recognition in continuous speech, (ii) reference resolution in real-world contexts, and (iii) real-time language processing in interactive conversation. In each domain, results emerge that provide insights which would otherwise be difficult to obtain. These results extend and, in some cases, challenge standard assumptions about language processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1105-1122
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1493
StatePublished - Mar 12 2008


  • Conversation
  • Eye movements
  • Language comprehension
  • Parsing
  • Speech perception
  • Spoken word recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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