Five experiments used self-paced reading time to examine the ways in which complex noun phrases (both conjoined NPs and possessive NPs) influence the interpretation of referentially dependent expressions. The experimental conditions contrasted the reading of repeated names and pronouns referring to components of a complex NP and to the entire complex NP. The results indicate that the entity introduced by a major constituent of a sentence is more accessible as a referent than the entities introduced by component noun phrases. This pattern of accessibility departs from the advantage of first mention that has been demonstrated using probe-word recognition tasks. It supports the idea that reduced expressions are interpreted as referring directly to prominent entities in a mental model whereas reference by names to entities that are already represented in a mental model is mediated by additional processes. The same interpretive processes appear to operate on coreference within and between sentences.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language