May 22, 2019

Research Groups: Week of May 20-24

Note that there is no meeting of the Syntax Group this week.

Friday, May 24, 10:00 AM-11:30 AM, in SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Group
Shir Givoni (Tel-Aviv University): "Marking ambiguity."

Language is ambiguous but, contra received wisdom, ambiguity need not always be resolved in order to arrive at a single intended meaning. In fact, interlocuters may mark ambiguous utterances when more than one meaning is called for. Consider the following example (ambiguous utterance underlined and marking in bold for convenience):

"Octopus Garden was conceived in 2005 as a sacred space for intentional relationships and transformation through yoga, meditation and complementary therapies. This month we are bending over backwards (pun intended) to make the diverse practices of yoga more accessible than ever before" (Octopus Garden newsletter, May 9, 2019).

This talk presents the Low-Salience Marking Hypothesis (Givoni, Giora, and Bergerbest 2013), according to which marking ambiguity boosts awareness of less-salient meanings (i.e., less frequent, less familiar, less conventional, and less prototypical meanings) and facilitates their activation. Couched in the Graded Salience Framework (Giora 1997, 2003) this hypothesis is the first to address the phenomenon of ambiguity marking and its implications with regard to processing of ambiguity. Results from offline questionnaires, a lexical decision task, and an online reading task, all conducted in Hebrew, support the Low-Salience Marking Hypothesis. Results are discussed with respect to alternative lexical access models.

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