Speech Prosody 2008
The present study reports three on-line psycholinguistic experiments investigating syntactic attachment decisions in both silent reading and auditory comprehension of the same set of sentences containing ambiguous adjunct and argument Prepositional Phrases (PP) in Brazilian Portuguese. An eyetracking experiment shows that both adjunct and argument PPs are preferentially attached to the VP during the reading of sentences fully presented on the screen. Sentences are then examined through a self-paced reading experiment and a selfpaced listening experiment, in which speech passages were presented in segments, with participants required to initiate presentation of subsequent segments via a key-press. Equivalent prosodic breaks in auditory presentation and segment boundaries in reading were systematically manipulated in order to assess explicit and implicit prosody effects on attachment decisions. The key results are summarized as follows. Unlike the argument/adjunct condition, which was not immediately accessed by the parser, prosodic breaks and visual segmentations displayed rapid parallel effects on the listening/reading times of critical segments, suggesting that BP subjects treat segment boundaries as signaling prosodic boundaries, as predicted by the Implicit Prosody Hypothesis (Fodor, 1998; 2002), and that both explicit and implicit prosody have markedly significant influences in on-line attachment decisions of both adjunct and argument PPs.
Bibliographic reference. Maia, Marcus (2008): "Reading and listening to garden-path PP sentences in Brazilian portuguese", In SP-2008, 461-464.