Parafoveal pragmatics revisited

Alan Kennedy, Wayne Murray, Claire Boissiere

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)


    The results of two experiments are reported, examining eye movements as participants read the initial sentence in a sentence-matching task. The sentences employed had a NP1-verb-NP2 construction and the pragmatic plausibility of the relationship between the verb and the two nouns was independently manipulated. The aim of the first experiment was to investigate the claim that the plausibility of a NP1-verb relationship influences reading time on NP1 even before the verb is directly inspected. The data confirm the existence of such “parafoveal pragmatic” effects, but suggest that sublexical properties of the particular nouns employed may also exert a parafoveal effect on foveal processing. Experiment 2 was carried out as a control. A contingent presentation procedure ensured that the critical verb remained masked until it was directly inspected. Parafoveal-on-foveal effects exerted by the verb were removed by this procedure, although effects relating to properties of the nouns remained. The results confirm the presence of processing interactions involving sublexical properties of the two nouns, even though these were quite widely separated. Overall, the results of the two experiments suggest that, for this task, there is a genuine parafoveal-on-foveal effect attributable to purely pragmatic relationships involving the initial noun and verb in the sentences employed. In addition, there is evidence of longer range parafoveal-on-foveal effects of orthographic properties of the words employed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128-153
    Number of pages26
    JournalEuropean Journal of Cognitive Psychology
    Issue number1/2
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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