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Prosodic influences on the resolution of temporary ambiguity during on-line sentence processing

Author(s): Shapiro, L. P., Tuller, B., Nawy, R.

Journal/Book: J Psycholinguist Res. 1996; 25: 233 Spring St, New York, NY 10013. Plenum Publ Corp. 319-344.

Abstract: We present three experiments designed to investigate the role of prosody during sentence processing. The first investigated the question of whether an utterance's prosodic contour influences its comprehension on-line. We spliced the beginning and end portions of direct object and embedded clause sentences and observed the consequent effects on comprehension using a dual-task procedure to measure processing load. Our second experiment sought to determine whether the constituent structure of these sentences could be reliably predicted using prosodic information. We found that the duration and F-0 contour associated with the main-clause verb and the following NP reliably distinguished between the direct object and embedded clause constructions. In the final experiment, we manipulated the duration of the main-clause verb and found that subjects used this information to guide their initial pause during on-line sentence comprehension. The need for a model of sentence processing that addresses the use of prosodic information is discussed.

Note: Article HN Nagel, 41 Highland St, Hamilton, MA 01982 USA


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