Semantic heuristics and syntactic analysis

Kenneth I. Forster, Ilmar Olbrei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the hypothesis that the component of sentence processing time directly attributable to syntactic processing depends critically on certain semantic properties of the sentence. Using two different procedures, it is found in a series of experiments that there is little evidence to support this view. Specifically, it is shown that syntactic processing time tends to be constant for sentences of varying semantic plausibility but constant syntactic structure, and further, that reversibility fails to affect sentence processing in a systematic way. These facts are interpreted as indicating that the recovery of the underlying structure of a sentence is controlled by purely syntactic properties of the input.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-347
Number of pages29
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1973
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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