The Contributions of Singular and Plural Nouns to Sentence Processing Complexity: Evidence from Reading Time

  • Rachel H. Messer Bethel College, KS, USA
  • Shelia Kennison Oklahoma State University, USA
Keywords: reading, semantic representations, syntactic ambiguity, comprehension, plural nouns, singular nouns.

Abstract

The nature of semantic representations of plural nouns has been a subject of debates in the literature. The present research investigated the extent to which there are differences in the processing of plural versus single noun descriptions (e.g., the large chairs vs. the large chair).  In two reading experiments, we tested whether plural (versus singular) nouns appearing in sentences were more difficult to process initially and/or led to increased processing difficulty when occurring in sentences that contain a temporary syntactic ambiguity. Reading time on syntactically ambiguous sentences containing plural or singular nouns were compared with reading time on unambiguous control sentences. The results of both experiments demonstrated significant effects of sentence ambiguity.  No effects or interactions involving noun number were observed, indicating that the complexity of plural nouns does not result in processing difficulty during sentence comprehension.

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Author Biographies

Rachel H. Messer, Bethel College, KS, USA

Scopus Author ID: 56957958400

ORCID: 0000-0002-0272-6126

rmesser@bethelks.edu

Shelia Kennison, Oklahoma State University, USA

Scopus Author ID: 6603400736

ORCID: 0000-0001-9298-3152

shelia.kennison@okstate.edu

Published
2020-06-30
How to Cite
Messer, R., & Kennison, S. (2020). The Contributions of Singular and Plural Nouns to Sentence Processing Complexity: Evidence from Reading Time. East European Journal of Psycholinguistics , 7(1). https://doi.org/10.29038/eejpl.2020.7.1.mes
Section
Vol 7 No 1 (2020)

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