The basic processes involved in the initial stages of reading and listening to speech were discussed in the previous chapter. At the end of that chapter, we had reached the point at which individual words were identified. The main objective of this chapter is to complete our account of reading and listening to speech, dealing with the ways in which phrases, sentences, and entire stories are processed and understood.

In crude terms, the previous chapter dealt with those aspects of language processing that differ between reading and listening to speech. In contrast, the higher-level processes involved in comprehension tend to be rather similar whether a story is being listened to or read. There has been far more research on comprehension processes in reading than in listening to speech, and so the emphasis will be on reading. However, it can usually be assumed that what is true of reading is also true of listening to speech. Any major discrepancies between reading and listening will be specifically dealt with as and when they occur.

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