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Psychol Rev. 1994 Oct;101(4):676-703.

The lexical nature of syntactic ambiguity resolution [corrected].

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Program in Neural, Informational, and Behavioral Science, University of Southern California, Los Angeles 90089-2520.

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  • Psychol Rev 1995 Apr;102(2):245.


Ambiguity resolution is a central problem in language comprehension. Lexical and syntactic ambiguities are standardly assumed to involve different types of knowledge representations and be resolved by different mechanisms. An alternative account is provided in which both types of ambiguity derive from aspects of lexical representation and are resolved by the same processing mechanisms. Reinterpreting syntactic ambiguity resolution as a form of lexical ambiguity resolution obviates the need for special parsing principles to account for syntactic interpretation preferences, reconciles a number of apparently conflicting results concerning the roles of lexical and contextual information in sentence processing, explains differences among ambiguities in terms of ease of resolution, and provides a more unified account of language comprehension than was previously available.

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