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Boston, Marisa Ferrara ; Hale, John ; Kliegl, Reinhold ; Patil, Umesh ; Vasishth, Shravan
Parsing costs as predictors of reading difficulty: An evaluation using the Potsdam Sentence Corpus
Kurzfassung auf EnglischThe surprisal of a word on a probabilistic grammar constitutes a promising
complexity metric for human sentence comprehension difficulty. Using two different grammar types, surprisal is shown to have an effect on fixation durations and regression probabilities in a sample of German readers’ eye movements, the Potsdam Sentence Corpus. A linear mixed-effects model was used to quantify the effect of surprisal while taking into account unigram and bigram frequency, word length, and empirically-derived word predictability; the so-called “early” and “late” measures of processing difficulty both showed an effect of surprisal. Surprisal is also shown to have a small but statistically non-significant effect on empirically-derived predictability itself. This work thus demonstrates the importance of including parsing costs as a predictor of
comprehension difficulty in models of reading, and suggests that a simple identification of syntactic parsing costs with early measures and late measures with durations of post-syntactic events may be difficult to uphold.
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