ITRW on Experimental Linguistics

Athens, Greece
August 28-30, 2006

Incremental Interpretation and Discourse Complexity

Jana Häussler, Markus Bader

Linguistics Department, University of Konstanz, Germany

We will present two self-paced reading studies that provide new evidence on the incrementality of semantic interpretation, in particular with regard to the notion of discourse complexity as introduced by Gibson's distance-based dependency locality theory (DLT; cf. Gibson, 1998, 2000). More specifically, we will focus on the contribution of referential processing on sentence complexity. The experiments compared the processing of simple definite DPs like der Lehrer ('the teacher') and complex DPs containing a possessive NP like Peters Lehrer ('Peter's teacher'). While simple DPs introduce only a single discourse referent, complex DPs introduce two discourse referents and some relation between them. This additional processing effort is reflected by increased reading times.

References

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Häussler, Jana / Bader, Markus (2006): "Incremental interpretation and discourse complexity", In ExLing-2006, 149-152.