Fill the gap! Combining pragmatic and prosodic information to make gapping easy

John C.J. Hoeks*, Gisela Redeker, Petra Hendriks

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
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    Two studies investigated the effects of prosody and pragmatic context on off-line and on-line processing of sentences like John greeted Paul yesterday and Ben today. Such sentences are ambiguous between the so-called 'nongapping' reading, where John greeted Ben, and the highly unpreferred 'gapping' reading, where Ben greeted Paul. In the first experiment, participants listened to dialogues and gave a speeded response as to which reading of an ambiguous target sentence first comes to mind. In the second experiment, they also responded to a visual probe that was presented during the presentation of the ambiguous target. The results show that context and prosody have independent and strong effects on both on-line processing and off-line interpretation of gapping; in the right combination they can make gapping as easy as the normally preferred nongapping reading.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)221-235
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun-2009


    • Gapping
    • Pragmatic context
    • Prosody
    • Spoken language processing

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