Advertisement

Real-Time Commitments in Processing Individual/Degree Polysemy

  • Margaret GrantEmail author
  • Sonia Michniewicz
  • Jessica Rett
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics book series (SITP, volume 48)

Abstract

Individual/degree polysemy is a phenomenon in which individual-denoting Determiner Phrases of any type can, in certain contexts, denote a degree corresponding to some salient measure of that individual. Like deferred reference, individual/degree polysemy conditions agreement: compare Four pizzas are vegetarian to Four pizzas is more than Sue had asked for. In this paper, we test whether readers commit to a single meaning of potentially polysemous DPs during real-time sentence processing. Immediate commitments have been found for other cases of grammatical ambiguity, for example collective or distributive uses of verbs, whereas readers do not necessarily commit to one sense of a lexically polysemous element (e.g., the concrete or abstract sense of newspaper). We present the results of one study of eye movements during reading and one self-paced reading study. Our results provide evidence that there are immediate commitments to the individual sense and the degree sense, depending on the internal properties of the Determiner Phrase. In particular, there is some evidence that definite DPs like the pizzas have a commitment to an individual interpretation, and stronger evidence that numeral DPs like two pizzas have a commitment to a degree interpretation. We discuss our results in light of the Minimal Semantic Commitment hypothesis proposed by Frazier, Pacht and Rayner.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Experiment 1 was conducted while the first author was an Assistant Professor (limited-term) at the University of Toronto, and was supported in part by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Internal Grant to the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto. The corresponding author is currently funded by the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Preis 2014 awarded to Prof. Dr. Artemis Alexiadou (AL554/8-1). We thank Elena-Cristina Feraru, Daria Kotcherova and Kelly-Ann Blake for their assistance in running participants. We are grateful for feedback from the audience at the 29th CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing at the University of Florida, the 39th annual conference of the German Linguistic Society, and members of the Research Group on Experimental Syntax and Heritage Languages at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

References

  1. Bates, D., Mächler, M., Bolker, B., & Walker, S. (2015). Fitting linear mixed-effects models using {lme4}. Journal of Statistical Software, 67(1), 1–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brasoveanu, A. (2009). Measure noun polysemy and monotonicity: Evidence from Romanian pseudopartitives. In A. Schardl, M. Walkow, & M. Abdurrahman (Eds.), Proceedings of the 38th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (pp. 139–150). Amherst: Graduate Linguistic Student Association.Google Scholar
  3. Carlson, G. (1977). Amount relatives. Language, 53, 520–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Christensen, R. H. B. (2018). Ordinal—Regression models for ordinal data. R package version 2018.4-19. http://www.cran.r-project.org/package=ordinal/.
  5. Copestake, A., & Briscoe, T. (1995). Semi-productive polysemy and sense extension. Journal of Semantics, 12, 15–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cresswell, M. J. (1976). The semantics of degree. In B. Partee (Ed.), Montague Grammar (pp. 261–292). New York: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duffy, S. A., Morris, R. K., & Rayner, K. (1988). Lexical ambiguity and fixation times. Journal of Memory and Language, 27, 429–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fishbein, J., & Harris, J. A. (2014). Making sense of Kafka: Structural biases induce early sense commitment for metonyms. Journal of Memory and Language, 76, 94–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Frazier, L., & Rayner, K. (1990). Taking on semantic commitments: Processing multiple meanings vs. multiple senses. Journal of Memory and Language, 29, 182–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Frazier, L., Pacht, J. M., & Rayner, K. (1999). Taking on semantic commitments, II: collective vs. distributive readings. Cognition, 70, 87–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frisson, S. (2009). Semantic underspecification in language processing. Language and Linguistics Compass, 3(1), 111–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Frisson, S., & Frazier, L. (2005). Carving up word meanings: Portioning and grinding. Journal of Memory and Language, 53, 277–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Frisson, S., & Pickering, M. J. (1999). The processing of metonymy: Evidence from eye movements. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 25(6), 1366–1383.Google Scholar
  14. Frisson, S., & Pickering, M. J. (2001). Obtaining a figurative interpretation of a word: Support for underspecification. Metaphor and Symbol, 16(3–4), 149–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Frisson, S., & Pickering, M. J. (2007). The processing of familiar and novel senses of a word: Why reading Dickens is easy but reading Needham can be hard. Language and Cognitive Processes, 22(4), 595–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grosu, A. (2009). Two kinds of degree-denoting relatives: Hebrew versus Romanian. Brill’s Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics, 1, 176–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grosu, A., & Landman, F. (1998). Strange relatives of the third kind. Natural Language Semantics, 6, 125–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heim, I. (1987). Where does the definiteness restriction apply? Evidence from the definiteness of variables. In E. Reuland & A. terMeulen (Eds.), The representation of (in)definiteness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Klepousniotou, E., & Baum, S. R. (2007). Disambiguating the ambiguity advantage effect in word recognition: An advantage for polysemous but not homonymous words. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 20, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kotek, H. (2013). Degree relatives, definiteness and shifted reference. In S. Kan, C. Moore-Cantwell, & R. Staubs (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society (pp. 29–43). Amherst: Graduate Linguistic Student Association.Google Scholar
  21. Kuznetsova, A., Brockhoff, P. B., & Christensen, R. H. B. (2017). lmerTest Package: Tests in linear mixed effects models. Journal of Statistical Software, 82(13), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Landman, F. (2004). Indefinites and the type of sets. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McElree, B., Frisson, S., & Pickering, M. J. (2006). Deferred interpretations: Why starting dickens is taxing but reading dickens isn’t. Cognitive Science, 30, 181–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Meier, C. (2003) The Meaning of Too, Enough, and So… That. Natural Language Semantics 11(1): 69–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nunberg, G. (1995). Transfers of meaning. Journal of Semantics, 12, 143–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Partee, B. (1989). Many quantifiers. In J. Powers & K. deJong (Eds.), ESCOL 89: Proceedings of the Eastern State Conference on Linguistics (pp. 383–402). Columbus: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  27. R Core Team. (2018). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. https://www.R-project.org/.
  28. Rayner, K., & Duffy, S. A. (1986). Lexical complexity and fixation times in reading: Effects of word frequency, verb complexity and lexical ambiguity. Memory & Cognition, 14(3), 191–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rayner, K., Pacht, J. M., & Duffy, S. A. (1994). Effects of prior encounter and global discourse bias on the processing of lexically ambiguous words: Evidence from eye fixations. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 527–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Rett, J. (2014). The polysemy of measurement. Lingua, 143, 242–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rothstein, S. (2009). Individuating and measure readings of classifier constructions: Evidence from Modern Hebrew. Brill’s Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics, 1, 106–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Schwarzschild, R. (2006). The role of dimensions in the syntax of Noun Phrases. Syntax, 9(1), 67–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Selkirk, E. O. (1977). Some remarks on noun phrase structure. In P. W. Culicover, T. Wasow, & A. Akmajian (Eds.), Formal syntax: Papers from the MSSB-UC Irvine conference on the formal syntax of natural language (pp. 285–316). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  34. Staub, A., & Rayner, K. (2007). Eye movements and on-line comprehension processes. In G. Gaskell (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics (pp. 327–342). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Stavrou, M. (2003). Semi-lexical nouns, classifiers, and the interpretation(s) of the pseudopartitive construction. In M. Coene & Y. d’Hulst (Eds.), From NP to DP: The syntax and semantics of noun phrases (pp. 329–353). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  36. von Stechow, A. (1984). Comparing semantic theories of comparison. Journal of Semantics, 3, 1–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Swinney, D. A. (1979). Lexical access during sentence comprehension: (Re)consideration of context effects. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 18, 645–659.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Syrett, K. (2010). The representation and processing of measure phrases by four-year-olds. In K. Franich, K. Iserman, & L. Keil (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development (pp. 421–432). Somerville: Cascadilla Press.Google Scholar
  39. Syrett, K. (2013). The role of cardinality in the interpretation of measurement expressions. Language Acquisition, 20, 228–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Traxler, M. J., Pickering, M. J., & McElree, B. (2002). Coercion in sentence processing: Evidence from eye-movements and self-paced reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 47, 530–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ward, G. (2004). Equatives and deferred reference. Language, 80, 262–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Westerståhl, D. (1985). Logical constants in quantifier languages. Linguistics and Philosophy, 8, 387–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Grant
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sonia Michniewicz
    • 2
  • Jessica Rett
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für Anglistik und AmerikanistikHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.School of CommunicationNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations