Syntactic Reanalysis in Human Language Processing
This thesis combines theoretical, computational and experimental techniques in the study of reanalysis in human sentence comprehension. We begin by surveying the main claims of existing theories of reanalysis, and identify representation preservation as a key concept. We show that the models which most obviously feature representation preservation are those which have been formulated with in the monotonicity framework, which assumes that there are aspects of representation which are updated monotonically (i.e.non-destructively) from state to state, and that any reanalysis which requires a non-monotonic update is predicted to cause processing disruption. Next, we present a computational implementation, based on the monotonic theory of Gorrell (1995b). We argue that in constructing such a model of reanalysis, it is essential to consider not only declarative constraints, but also the computational processes through which reanalysis routines explicit, leading to novel predictions in cases where there exist more than one alternative for structural revision. I show why preferences for such reanalysis ambiguities may differ between predominantly head initial languages such as English, and head final languages such as Japanese. After this, we consider the empirical consequences of the implemented model, in particular in relation to recent experimental data concerning modifier attachment. We shoe that the model is too restrictive, and we argue that the appropriate way to expand its coverage is to apply the monotonicity constraints not directly to phrase structure, but to thematics structure. We provide a general framework which allows such non-phrase structural models to be defined, maintaining the same notion of monotonicity that was employed in the previous model. We go on to provide solutions to some computational problems which accompany this change. Finally, we present two experimental studies. The first of these considers the issue of reanalysis ambiguity, and specifically the existence of a recency preference is confirmed in off-line tasks, such as comprehension accuracy and a questionnaire experiment, but is not confirmed in self-paced reading. We discuss some possible reasons for this dissociation between the on-line and off-line results. The second experimental study considers the effect of modifier attachment in Japanese relative clause ambiguities. In this study, we confirm the influence of thematic structure on the resolution of Japanese relative clause ambiguities, and we argue that this effect should be interpreted in terms of a constraint on reanalysis.