The distribution of landing positions and durations of first fixations in a region containing a noun preceded by either an article (e.g. the soldiers) or a high-frequency three-letter word (e.g. all soldiers) were compared. <br/><br/>Although there were fewer first fixations on the blank space between the high-frequency three-letter word and the noun than on the surrounding letters (and the fixations on the blank space were shorter), this pattern did not occur when the noun was preceded by an article. <br/><br/>Radach (1996) inferred from a similar experiment that did not manipulate the type of short word that two words could be processed as a perceptual unit during reading when the first word is a short word. As this different pattern of fixations is restricted to article- noun pairs, it indicates that word grouping does not occur purely on the basis of word length during reading; moreover, as we demonstrate, one can explain the observed patterns in both conditions more parsimoniously, without adopting a word grouping mechanism in eye movement control during reading
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