Processing doubly quantified sentences: evidence from eye movements

Filik, Ruth., Paterson, Kevin.B. and Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 (2004) Processing doubly quantified sentences: evidence from eye movements. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 11 (5). pp. 953-959. ISSN 1069-9384

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We investigated the processing of doubly quantified sentences, such as Kelly showed a photo to every critic, that are ambiguous as to whether the indefinite (a photo) specifies single or multiple referents. Ambiguity resolution requires the computation of relative quantifier scope: Whether aorevery takes wide scope, thereby determining how many entities or events are to be represented. In an eye-tracking experiment, we manipulated quantifier order and whether continuations were singular or plural, for constructions with the direct or the indirect object occurring first. We obtained effects consistent with the on-line processing of relative scope at the doubly quantified phrase and considered two possible explanations for a preference for singular continuations to the quantified sentence. We conclude that relative quantifier scope is computed on line during reading but may not be a prerequisite for the resolution of definite anaphors, unless required by secondary tasks.

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