Effects of Local and Global Context on Processing Sentences with Subject and Object Relative Clauses

Fang Yang, Lun Mo, Max M. Louwerse

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    An eye tracking study investigated the effects of local and global discourse context on the processing of subject and object relative clauses, whereby the contexts favored either a subject relative clause interpretation or an object relative clause interpretation. The fixation data replicated previous studies showing that object relative clause sentences were more difficult to process than subject relative sentences. Crucially, however, the reading difficulty asymmetry between subject and object relative clause sentences disappeared when the sentences were presented with a local or a global discourse context that favored the objects in the object relative clauses. These findings demonstrate that the evidence for a syntax-based account of sentence processing is found when sentences are presented in isolation. However, if sentences are placed more naturally, in context, discourse factors outweigh the initial structural assignment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-237
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


    • Syntactic parsing
    • Sentence processing
    • Eye tracking
    • Discourse comprehension
    • Garden Bath
    • Linguistic context

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