Sensitivity to syntactic changes in garden path sentences

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The results of two text-change experiments are reported. The experiments were designed to investigate the syntactic representation of garden path sentences such as While the man hunted the deer that was brown and graceful ran into the woods, specifically the claim that a significant number of misinterpretations of such sentences are due to incomplete syntactic reanalysis (Christianson et al. Cogn Psychol 42:368-407, 2001). In the experiments reported here, the pronoun it was added (Expt. 1) or deleted (Expt. 2) from short texts containing such sentences. Participants were more or less likely to notice both deletions and additions of it in certain syntactic contexts, as predicted by the incomplete reanalysis account. Correlations with reading times support this interpretation of the results. Overall, the data are consistent with a "good enough" view of language processing (Ferreira et al. J Psycholinguist Res 30:3-20, 2001).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-403
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Good-enough language processing
  • Reading
  • Sentence comprehension
  • Syntactic parsing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • General Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics


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