Sensitivity to Syntactic Changes in Garden Path Sentences

  • Kiel Christianson
Original Article


The results of two text-change experiments are reported. The experiments were designed to investigate the syntactic representation of garden path sentences such as While the man hunted the deer that was brown and graceful ran into the woods, specifically the claim that a significant number of misinterpretations of such sentences are due to incomplete syntactic reanalysis (Christianson et al. Cogn Psychol 42:368–407, 2001). In the experiments reported here, the pronoun it was added (Expt. 1) or deleted (Expt. 2) from short texts containing such sentences. Participants were more or less likely to notice both deletions and additions of it in certain syntactic contexts, as predicted by the incomplete reanalysis account. Correlations with reading times support this interpretation of the results. Overall, the data are consistent with a “good enough” view of language processing (Ferreira et al. J Psycholinguist Res 30:3–20, 2001).


Sentence comprehension Syntactic parsing Good-enough language processing Reading 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Psychology and Beckman InstituteUniversity of Illinois, Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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