Anaphora, defined ``as a procedure for the recall of some item of information previously placed in discourse memory and already bearing a minimal level of attention activation'' (Cornish, 2002), may be realized via a whole range of anaphor types, including unaccented pronouns, demonstratives, and definite or demonstrative noun-phrases. These expression types, however, are not equivalent in terms of the procedural instructions they carry. A number of linguists have proposed that the different anaphor types, via their specific meaning as markers of the cognitive status of the intended referent, would signal different ways in which a sentence may - or should - be resolved (Ariel, 1990, 1996; Chafe, 1994; Gundel, Hedberg & Zacharsky, 1993). Therefore, two questions for psycholinguists are: how do the functional specificities inherent in each type of expression guide sentence processing in different ways, and how does the choice of one expression (rather than another) affect the way in which addressees build models of the discourse, as well as the way in which they distribute their attention within these models? Considering these two questions, the aim of our research is to study the impact of the procedural value of the demonstrative noun-phrase that N on sentence processing in discourse context by studying its functioning in contrast with that of a `prototypical anaphoric expression': the unaccented third person pronoun he/she. Indeed, contrary to the anaphoric third person pronoun whose use is reserved to the cases where the targeted referent is assumed to be highly accessible in the addressee's discourse model, the demonstrative NP, that N, could imply a `focus shift' (Cornish, 1999; Gundel, 1998). By manipulating the level of accessibility of the discourse referents (highly-focused entity vs. less-focused entity), we studied the time course of both these anaphor-type interpretation processes in two self-paced reading-time experiments, using gender agreement either with only one name (Experiment 1: unambiguous gender cue) or with two names (Experiment 2: ambiguous gender cue). The results indicate that both anaphor types are sensitive to the level of accessibility of entities, but in opposite ways: anaphoric pronouns signal referential and attentional continuity while demonstrative descriptions indicate a shift in attention focus. The results also indicate that it is necessary to postulate a distinction between the two referring form types in terms of the processing instructions that they carry. We suggest that the presuppositional constraint could be stronger for certain forms (the demonstratives) that for others.
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