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Abstract

The concept of accessibility has often been evoked to explain reference resolution. According to the Givenness Hierarchy theory, a referent’s accessibility in the mental state of a comprehender is encoded in the form of the referent as part of its lexical semantic representation. However, the current literature has not reached a consensus on what accessibility exactly means and how to best quantify it. The factors that modulate accessibility show a great extent of overlap with another independently motivated concept—predictability—raising the possibility of a “Predictability Hierarchy” that mirrors Givenness Hierarchy. Using a self-paced reading experimental design, the current study examines whether there is such a “Predictability Hierarchy,” by manipulating the predictability and the form of the referent presented to the participants. Our results indicate that although there is no strong evidence for approximating the Givenness Hierarchy with a “Predictability Hierarchy,” there is some preliminary evidence for a partial correlation between the form and the predictability of a referent.

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