Reading time evidence for enriched composition

Brian McElree, Matthew J. Traxler, Martin J. Pickering, Rachel E. Seely, Ray Jackendoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Verbs like 'begin' and 'enjoy' appear to semantically select a complement that expresses an activity or an event (Jackendoff, R. (1997). The architecture of the language faculty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press; Pustejovsky, J. Cognition 41 (1991) 47; Pustejovsky, J. (1995). The generative lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press). When these verbs occur with a complement that does not directly denote either an activity or an event (e.g.'...began the book' or '...enjoyed the book'), the complement must be type-shifted from an object to an activity to conform to the verb's semantic restrictions. We report an experiment in which self-paced reading times were found to be longer for complements that required type-shifting than for complements that directly matched the semantic restrictions of the matrix verb. This finding is argued to provide on-line evidence for a type of enriched lexical processing posited in recent lexical semantic research. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)B17-B25
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Enriched composition
  • Evidence
  • Reading time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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