Abstract: Accessibility in Text and Discourse Processing

SANDERS, T. J. M. & GERNSBACHER, M. A. (2004). Accessibility in Text and Discourse Processing. Discourse Processes, 37(2), 79-89.

Accessibility is one of the most important challenges at the intersection of linguistic and psycholinguistic studies of text and discourse processing. Linguists have shown how linguistic indicators of referential coherence show a systematic pattern: Longer linguistic forms (like full lexical NPs) tend to be used when referents are relatively low accessible, shorter forms (pronouns and zero anaphora) are used when referents are highly accessible. This linguistic theory fits in nicely with a dynamic view of text and discourse processing: When a reader proceeds through a text, the activation of concepts as part of the reader’s representation fluctuates constantly. Hypotheses considering activation patterns can be tested with on-line research methods like reading time or eye-movement recording. The articles in this special issue show how accessibility phenomena need to be studied from a linguistic and a psycholinguistic angle, and in the latter case from interpretation as well as production.