GARDEN-PATH UTTERANCES AND RELEVANCE
Palabras clave:garden-path utterances, lexical ambiguity, lexical access, relevance theory
An appropriate account of how the interpretation process of garden-path utterances develops should include an analysis of those psycholinguistic aspects related to the recovery of the semantic representations of the utterance as well as a pragmatic explanation of how those representations are used in the construction of a final interpretation. To investigate how lexical access could take place in the case of ambiguous words, two psycholinguistic models are briefly reviewed: the selective model and the exhaustive model. An argument is put forward for the exhaustive model, that is, for a modular view of the lexical processing system. Thus, we argue that in the processing of a garden-path utterance, upon encountering an ambiguous word, all of its meanings are initially activated. Once access has been completed and the selection phase reached, pragmatic factors come into play, in the process of selecting one of the possibilities and building an interpretation from it. Relevance theory, a cognitive-pragmatic account of communication, explains why a given interpretation is initially selected, why it is later rejected as contextually inappropriate and why the processor tries a second line of interpretation which will finally produce the desired results.