Two Strands of Scholarship on Language Comprehension: Phoneme Monitoring and Discourse Context1

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This paper briefly reviews two areas of work on language comprehension and gives an informal assessment of each. One area discussed is phoneme monitoring, a method for measuring on-line spoken language comprehension. The origins of this method are sketched, as are some of the ways in which it has been used and the assumptions behind its use. The second area is substantive rather than methodological, being concerned with discourse context and its effect upon word and sentence processing. The hypothesis of interest states that discourse context has its effects on subsequent word processing primarily by affecting the ease of integrating new information into the ongoing discourse representation. This organizationally based view is distinct from a more elementaristic one which states that context operates by items priming other individual items. Some work consistent with the integration perspective is noted.

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