Cognitive Processing of Syntactically Ambiguous Constructions: Insights from the Processing of Constructions with a Globally Ambiguous Relative Clause


  • Marko Vladisavljević University of Belgrade, The Faculty of Economics, Belgrade, Serbia
  • Ksenija Bogetić Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia


sentence processing, language and cognition, syntactic ambiguity


In psycholinguistics and cognitive linguistics, mechanisms of processing ambiguous linguistic constructions have attracted great attention, since their understanding can tell us a lot about the fundamental processes of language comprehension — attaching concepts into single coherent representations. From the wide area of research on the topic of cognitive processing, this paper focuses on one type of ambiguity for which contradictory principles of processing have been established in different languages: the syntactic ambiguity of the relative clause, the most common and the most controversial sentence construction in research on language processing to date. The text offers an overview of empirical findings, hypotheses, and implications for wider models of cognitive processing, including their contradictions and methodological questions deserving further consideration. The concluding remarks sum up the findings, drawbacks and needed directions of future research.