Sedivy (2002) proposed that using only and prior referential context to specify contrastive focus can guide the parsing of relative clause ambiguities. We report two studies investigating this hypothesis, using sentences that either temporarily allowed or disallowed a transitive main clause interpretation. Sentence completions demonstrated that only and interrogative contexts jointly influenced the frequency of relative clause completions to ambiguous fragments. Eye-tracking demonstrated that conjoint effects of only and context influenced initial parsing decisions only when the active transitive analysis was unavailable. The results are consistent with previous observations that the influence of contrastive focus on sentence processing depends on which syntactic analyses are available to the parser ( Liversedge et al., 2002 and Paterson et al., 1999)
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