In two self-paced reading experiments, we investigated the effect of changes in antecedent complexity on processing times for ellipsis. Pointer- or “sharing”-based approaches to ellipsis processing (Frazier & Clifton 2001, 2005; Martin & McElree 2008) predict no effect of antecedent complexity on reading times at the ellipsis site while other accounts predict increased antecedent complexity to either slow down processing (Murphy 1985) or to speed it up (Hofmeister 2011). Experiment 1 manipulated antecedent complexity and elision, yielding evidence against a speedup at the ellipsis site and in favor of a null effect. In order to investigate possible superficial processing on part of participants, Experiment 2 manipulated the amount of attention required to correctly respond to end-of-sentence comprehension probes, yielding evidence against a complexity-induced slowdown at the ellipsis site. Overall, our results are compatible with pointer-based approaches while casting doubt on the notion that changes antecedent complexity lead to measurable differences in ellipsis processing speed.
antecedent complexity, ellipsis processing, memory pointer, self-paced reading, Bayes factor
How to Cite
Paape, D. & Nicenboim, B. & Vasishth, S., (2017) “Does antecedent complexity affect ellipsis processing? An empirical investigation”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1), p.77. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.290