Reactivation of antecedents by overt versus null pronouns: Evidence from Persian

Shravan Vasishth, Niloofar Keshtiari

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In Persian, a construction exists in which a gap can optionally be replaced by an overt pronoun. A self-paced reading study (110 par- ticipants) suggests that the overt pronoun results in deeper encod- ing (higher activation) of the antecedent noun, presumably because of richer retrieval cue specifications during antecedent retrieval at the pronoun; this higher activation has the consequence that the an- tecedent is easier to retrieve at a subsequent stage. This provides new evidence for reactivation effects of the type assumed in the cue-based retrieval model of parsing (Lewis and Vasishth 2005), and shows that dependency resolution is not simply a matter of connecting two co- dependents; the retrieval cue specification has a differential impact on processing.

Journal of Language Modelling