Part of trying to understand how we mentally parse and understand text requires understanding how far ahead we look, which is what this question is about.
I'm wondering how we understand how to interpret words that have multiple totally unrelated meanings and/or pronunciations. Words such as:
read (red, reed) tear (tair, teer)
If you see a sentence like:
And the tears were many.
It's ambiguous. You have to backtrack a few times and try out different meanings of
tears. If it was part of more text, then you could maybe figure it out.
They fell hard and ruined their clothes. They were running so fast. It was in the middle of the night. The tears were many.
They fell hard and ruined their clothes. The tears were many.
They fell hard and ruined their clothes. The tears on their clothes were many. // or The clothes were shredded. The tears were many.
Then we can finally see that it is "tairs". The crazy thing is how we can read that out loud and get it right. The question is, how can we pronounce that right in the first case, where the meaning is clarified after the word is used, and in the second case, where the meaning is clarified before.
It is as if we see a box of text, a window of text.
Then we can finally see that it is "tairs". _____________________________ The |crazy thing is how we can rea|d that out | | loud| and get it right. The questi|on is, how | | can |we pronounce that right in th|e first case, | | wher|e the meaning is clarified _a|fter_ the | | word|is used, and in the second ca|se, where ‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾ the meaning is clarified _before_.
The current word there would be that, and it's like we can interpret that far in advance, or more, to determine how to say the current word. But this doesn't seem to act in parallel, but instead just happens in series really fast.
The question is, if there is any research or formal approaches that explain how this process works in humans.