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