When listeners search for the referent of a speaker's expression, they experience interference from privileged knowledge, knowledge outside of their 'common ground' with the speaker. Evidence is presented that this interference reflects limitations in lexical processing. In three experiments, listeners' eye movements were monitored as they searched for the target of a speaker's referring expression in a display that also contained a phonological competitor (e.g., bucket/buckle). Listeners anticipated that the speaker would refer to something in common ground, but they did not experience less interference from a competitor in privileged ground than from a matched competitor in common ground. In contrast, interference from the competitor was eliminated when it was ruled out by a semantic constraint. These findings support a view of comprehension as relying on multiple systems with distinct access to information and present a challenge for constraint-based views of common ground
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