I think I’m almost done with the texts I’ve been working on today. After struggling with the syntactic phrases for a while (coming up with garden path sentences from existing sentences is harder than I thought), I decided I probably shouldn’t start with the biggest time block first. That said, I did spend a number of hours on it in the morning. Instead of taking arbitrary garden path sentences and trying to craft some logical story from them, I took some sections from Wikipedia (the article on violins!) and tried to turn some of those sentences into garden path sentences. This is hard just because I can’t tell if what I wrote is in fact a garden path sentence. Maybe because I wrote it, I also couldn’t figure out whether they had the necessary level of ambiguity. So after struggling with that for a while, I simply moved on.
The Lexical passages were much easier, and as in the last study, I just found passages and replaced words in them to create “easier” or “harder” versions, and tried to go with different styles. I picked different passages from last time; we noticed in the first study that everyone found the Romeo and Juliet excerpt really easy to read, and they claimed this was because they had mostly seen it before. To this end, I went with a much more obscure Shakespeare excerpt!
For the Semantic passages, I used the appendices from a 2005 Rayner paper (uploaded to Evernote). Here too I had to be a little creative — I chose three that had something in common and tried to create a story from them. For this reason, they all have very similar styles and tones, which I am kind of concerned about. I am hoping that tomorrow, after writing the rest of the Syntactic passages, I can get a second set of eyes on the passages to see whether they are too similar. After these texts are done I think we will basically ready for the second study.