Interpreting Quantifier Scope Ambiguity: Evidence of Heuristic First, Algorithmic Second Processing
Dwivedi, Veena D.
MetadataShow full item record
The present work suggests that sentence processing requires both heuristic and algorithmic processing streams, where the heuristic processing strategy precedes the algorithmic phase. This conclusion is based on three self-paced reading experiments in which the processing of two-sentence discourses was investigated, where context sentences exhibited quantifier scope ambiguity. Experiment 1 demonstrates that such sentences are processed in a shallow manner. Experiment 2 uses the same stimuli as Experiment 1 but adds questions to ensure deeper processing. Results indicate that reading times are consistent with a lexical-pragmatic interpretation of number associated with context sentences, but responses to questions are consistent with the algorithmic computation of quantifier scope. Experiment 3 shows the same pattern of results as Experiment 2, despite using stimuli with different lexicalpragmatic biases. These effects suggest that language processing can be superficial, and that deeper processing, which is sensitive to structure, only occurs if required. Implications for recent studies of quantifier scope ambiguity are discussed.