Seminar Series

The Dynamic, Immediate, and Interactive Influences of Real-world Events on Language Comprehension

A significant proportion of everyday utterances concern real-word events. Thus, people's knowledge of everyday events, including their common participants, is an important component of language comprehension. In many theories of language comprehension, event knowledge is outside of "the lexicon", is accessed slowly, and influences comprehension only after an architecturally-determined time delay. In contrast, I present results from semantic priming and sentence comprehension studies that strongly support a view in which event knowledge is organized efficiently so that it is computed immediately from words (and combinations of words). Furthermore, its activation is constrained by sentence structure. In addition, our studies show that event knowledge is an important source of information that is used to generate expectancies about upcoming concepts and syntactic structure during on-line language comprehension.