On not being led down the kindergarten path

Studies of adult sentence processing have established that the referential context in which sentences are presented plays an immediate role in their interpretation, such that referential features of the context mitigate, and even eliminate, so-called ‘garden-path’ effects. Perceivers experience garden path effects almost exclusively when they are attempting to parse locally ambiguous linguistic structures in the absence of context, or in infelicitous contexts. The finding that the referential context ordinarily obviates garden path effects is compelling evidence for the Referential Theory of parsing, advanced originally by Crain and Steedman, (1985) and extended in Altmann and Steedman (1988).
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