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Schlueter, Parker & Lau on agreement attraction

In the new Frontiers, we learn that Error-Driven Retrieval in Agreement Attraction Rarely Leads to Misinterpretation, from alumni Zoe Schlueter *17 and Dan Parker *14, along with Zoe's former advisor, Ellen Lau. The paper asks whether errors of agreement attraction may lead to an interpretation of the attractor as the semantic subject of the verb. For example, when comprehenders perceive as acceptable "The key to the CNL offices were never found," do they also understand that the offices were never found? Using a novel paradigm that combines self-paced reading with a speeded forced choice task, the authors find that such errors of interpretation occur in only a small subset of trials that exhibit errors of agreement. Accordingly they conclude that "an agreement violation often reflects a low-level rechecking process that is only concerned with number and does not have an impact on the structural representation of the sentence."