ISCA Archive ExLing 2006
ISCA Archive ExLing 2006

Incremental interpretation and discourse complexity

Jana Häussler, Markus Bader

We will present two self-paced reading studies that provide new evidence on the incrementality of semantic interpretation, in particular with regard to the notion of discourse complexity as introduced by Gibson's distance-based dependency locality theory (DLT; cf. Gibson, 1998, 2000). More specifically, we will focus on the contribution of referential processing on sentence complexity. The experiments compared the processing of simple definite DPs like der Lehrer ('the teacher') and complex DPs containing a possessive NP like Peters Lehrer ('Peter's teacher'). While simple DPs introduce only a single discourse referent, complex DPs introduce two discourse referents and some relation between them. This additional processing effort is reflected by increased reading times.


Gibson, E. 1998. Linguistic complexity: locality of syntactic dependencies. Cognition 68, 1-75 Gibson, E. 2000. The dependency locality theory: A distance-based theory of linguistic complexity. In Marantz, A., Miyashita, Y. and O’Neil, W. (eds.) 2000, Image, language, brain. Papers from the first Mind Articulation Project Symposium, 95-126. Cambridge, MIT Press.

Cite as: Häussler, J., Bader, M. (2006) Incremental interpretation and discourse complexity. Proc. First ITRW on Experimental Linguistics, 149-152

  author={Jana Häussler and Markus Bader},
  title={{Incremental interpretation and discourse complexity}},
  booktitle={Proc. First ITRW on Experimental Linguistics},