Argument-Head Distance and Processing Complexity: Explaining both Locality and Antilocality Effects

Although proximity between arguments and verbs (locality) is a relatively robust determinant of sentence-processing difficulty (Hawkins 1998, 2001, Gibson 2000), increasing argument-verb distance can also facilitate processing (Konieczny 2000). We present two self-paced reading (SPR) experiments involving Hindi that provide further evidence of antilocality, and a third SPR experiment which suggests that similarity-based interference can attenuate this distance-based facilitation. A unified explanation of interference, locality, and antilocality effects is proposed via an independently motivated theory of activation decay and retrieval interference (Anderson et al. 2004).