Article

Memory benefits from contrastive focus truly require focus: evidence from clefts and connectives

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

Across three experiments, we investigated how different markers of contrastive focus affect text encoding and retention. Prior work suggests that some contrastive focus markers (e.g. contrastive pitch accents) can enhance long-term memory for discourse; we tested whether this arises from contrast alone or the realisation of linguistic focus in particular. Participants read texts containing true propositions for which a salient alternative was previously mentioned (e.g. The British scientists found the monkey when the French were previously mentioned) and took a memory test. Contrast markers alone (adversative connectives) did not facilitate retention whereas contrastive focus markers (it-clefts) did. However, contrary to what has been observed for other contrastive focus markers (contrastive pitch accents and font emphasis), it-clefts facilitated retention of focused words rather than salient alternatives. We suggest that, consistent with recent linguistic accounts, cognitive and mnemonic effects vary across contrastive focus markers as a function of properties such as exhaustivity.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... First, the granularity account claims that the effect of a contrastive PA, and perhaps focusing devices more generally, is to enhance the representation of the accented word itself. This account was originally proposed to describe the mnemonic benefit of other focus-marking devices, including it-cleft constructions Carpenter, 1987, 1992;Birch and Garnsey, 1995;Sturt et al., 2004) and font emphasis in a written discourse (Sanford et al., 2006), but could also describe effects of PAs (Norberg and Fraundorf, 2021). The granularity account predicts a contrastive PA should enhance a listener's ability to reject all false alternatives because all of those are inconsistent with the correct information. ...
Article
Full-text available
We examined L2 learners’ interpretation of pitch accent cues in discourse memory and how these effects vary with proficiency and working memory (WM). One hundred sixty-eight L1-Chinese participants learning L2-English listened to recorded discourses containing pairs of contrastive alternatives and then took a later recognition memory test. Their language proficiency and WM were measured through standard tests and the participants were categorized into low, medium, advanced, and high advanced language proficiency groups. We analyzed recognition memory task performance using signal detection theory to tease apart response bias (an overall tendency to affirm memory probes) from sensitivity (the ability to discern whether a specific probe statement is true). The results showed a benefit of contrastive L + H* pitch accents in rejecting probes referring to items unmentioned in a discourse, but not contrastive alternatives themselves. More proficient participants also showed more accurate memory for the discourses overall, as well as a reduced overall bias to affirm the presented statements as true. Meanwhile, that the benefit of L + H* accents in rejecting either contrast probes or unmentioned probes was modulated for people with greater working memory. Participants with higher WM were quite sure that it did not exist in the memory trace as this part of discourse wasn’t mentioned. The results support a contrast-uncertainty hypothesis, in which comprehenders recall the contrast set but fail to distinguish which is the correct item. Further, these effects were influenced by proficiency and by working memory, suggesting they reflect incomplete mapping between pitch accent and discourse representation.
Article
Full-text available
Several studies (e.g., Wicha et al., 2003; DeLong et al., 2005) have shown that readers use information from the sentential context to predict nouns (or some of their features), and that predictability effects can be inferred from the EEG signal in determiners or adjectives appearing before the predicted noun. While these findings provide evidence for the pre-activation proposal, recent replication attempts together with inconsistencies in the results from the literature cast doubt on the robustness of this phenomenon. Our study presents the first attempt to use the effect of gender on predictability in German to study the pre-activation hypothesis, capitalizing on the fact that all German nouns have a gender and that their preceding determiners can show an unambiguous gender marking when the noun phrase has accusative case. Despite having a relatively large sample size (of 120 subjects), both our preregistered and exploratory analyses failed to yield conclusive evidence for or against an effect of pre-activation. The sign of the effect is, however, in the expected direction: the more unexpected the gender of the determiner, the larger the negativity. The recent, inconclusive replication attempts by Nieuwland et al. (2018) and others also show effects with signs in the expected direction. We conducted a Bayesian random-effects meta-analysis using our data and the publicly available data from these recent replication attempts. Our meta-analysis shows a relatively clear but very small effect that is consistent with the pre-activation account and demonstrates a very important advantage of the Bayesian data analysis methodology: we can incrementally accumulate evidence to obtain increasingly precise estimates of the effect of interest.
Article
Full-text available
Cues to emphasis, such as beat gesture and contrastive pitch accenting, play an important role in constraining what comprehenders remember from a discourse. One possibility is that these cues are used in a purely bottom-up manner in which additional attention is devoted to emphasized material. Another possibility is that comprehenders use top-down expectations of what cues might be expected in the current communicative context, such that the absence of an expected cue may serve as an indicator that material is unimportant. We independently manipulated two cues conveying emphasis – beat gesture and contrastive pitch accenting – to examine how they affected memory for information in a discourse. When beat gesture was present in some cases (Experiment 1), contrastive pitch accenting facilitated memory when beat gesture was present but not when beat gesture was absent. By contrast, when beat gesture was never present (Experiment 2), contrastive pitch accenting facilitated memory even though stimuli were identical to those in which beat gesture was absent in Experiment 1. Together, these results indicate that which cues could be produced affects interpretation even when these cues are absent, indicating that top-down expectations influence cue integration, consistent with emerging data-explanation views of language processing.
Article
Full-text available
The brms package allows R users to easily specify a wide range of Bayesian single-level and multilevel models which are fit with the probabilistic programming language Stan behind the scenes. Several response distributions are supported, of which all parameters (e.g., location, scale, and shape) can be predicted. Non-linear relationships may be specified using non-linear predictor terms or semi-parametric approaches such as splines or Gaussian processes. Multivariate models can be fit as well. To make all of these modeling options possible in a multilevel framework, brms provides an intuitive and powerful formula syntax, which extends the well known formula syntax of lme4. The purpose of the present paper is to introduce this syntax in detail and to demonstrate its usefulness with four examples, each showing relevant aspects of the syntax.
Article
Full-text available
One of the frequent questions by users of the mixed model function lmer of the lme4 package has been: How can I get p values for the F and t tests for objects returned by lmer? The lmerTest package extends the 'lmerMod' class of the lme4 package, by overloading the anova and summary functions by providing p values for tests for fixed effects. We have implemented the Satterthwaite's method for approximating degrees of freedom for the t and F tests. We have also implemented the construction of Type I - III ANOVA tables. Furthermore, one may also obtain the summary as well as the anova table using the Kenward-Roger approximation for denominator degrees of freedom (based on the KRmodcomp function from the pbkrtest package). Some other convenient mixed model analysis tools such as a step method, that performs backward elimination of nonsignificant effects - both random and fixed, calculation of population means and multiple comparison tests together with plot facilities are provided by the package as well.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present two empirical studies on exclusives, it-clefts, and pseudoclefts (i.e., identity statements with a definite description) in which the at-issue and not-at-issue content — a factor that has not been properly controlled for in prior experimental work on cleft exhaustivity — was teased apart systematically. The results show that violations of exhaustivity in it-clefts, a not-at-issue inference, patterned differently from the necessary presupposition failures of the not-at-issue semantic inferences. These findings pose a new experimental challenge to semantic accounts of exhaustivity in it-clefts, while being in line with pragmatic accounts.
Article
Full-text available
Linear mixed-effects models have increasingly replaced mixed-model analyses of variance for statistical inference in factorial psycholinguistic experiments. The advantages of LMMs over ANOVAs, however, come at a cost: Setting up an LMM is not as straightforward as running an ANOVA. One simple option, when numerically possible, is to fit the full variance-covariance structure of random effects (the " maximal " model; Barr et al., 2013), presumably to keep Type I error down to the nominal α in the presence of random effects. Although it is true that fitting a model with only random intercepts may lead to higher Type I error, fitting a maximal model also has a cost: it can lead to a significant loss of power. We demonstrate this with simulations and suggest that for typical psychological and psycholinguistic data, models with a random effect structure that is supported by the data have optimal Type I error and power properties.
Article
Full-text available
A brief survey of linguistic studies on the nature of contrastive information in discourse was presented first, and an attempt was also made to incorporate the linguistic theories and concepts about contrast in discourse into a psychological framework. A tentative model of processing of contrastive information in discourse was proposed, and eight experimental studies on the effects of contrastive information on comprehension and memory of short and long discourses were reviewed. Experimental results showed that contrastive sentences took more time to process at encoding, and yet were recognized faster and cued-recalled in greater amount than noncontrastive sentences. It was also found that levels of contrast in the discourse structure have some effects on encoding time. It was further found that the sentence immediately following the contrastive sentence was processed slowly regardless of whether it does or does not resolve the contrast. The implications of the results of empirical studies were discussed in relation to developing a research framework that integrate coherence studies and contrast studies across the two disciplines of linguistics and cognitive psychology.
Article
Full-text available
Linear mixed-effect models (LMMs) are being increasingly widely used in psychology to analyse multi-level research designs. This feature allows LMMs to address some of the problems identified by Speelman and McGann (2013) about the use of mean data, because they do not average across individual responses. However, recent guidelines for using LMM to analyse skewed reaction time (RT) data collected in many cognitive psychological studies recommend the application of non-linear transformations to satisfy assumptions of normality. Uncritical adoption of this recommendation has important theoretical implications which can yield misleading conclusions. For example, Balota et al. (2013) showed that analyses of raw RT produced additive effects of word frequency and stimulus quality on word identification, which conflicted with the interactive effects observed in analyses of transformed RT. Generalized linear mixed-effect models (GLMM) provide a solution to this problem by satisfying normality assumptions without the need for transformation. This allows differences between individuals to be properly assessed, using the metric most appropriate to the researcher's theoretical context. We outline the major theoretical decisions involved in specifying a GLMM, and illustrate them by reanalysing Balota et al.'s datasets. We then consider the broader benefits of using GLMM to investigate individual differences.
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this paper is to provide an easy template for the inclusion of the Bayes factor in reporting experimental results, particularly as a recommendation for articles in the Journal of Problem Solving. The Bayes factor provides information with a similar purpose to the p-value—to allow the researcher to make statistical inferences from data provided by experiments. While the p-value is widely used, the Bayes factor provides several advantages, particularly in that it allows the researcher to make a statement about the alternative hypothesis, rather than just the null hypothesis. In addition, it provides a clearer estimate of the amount of evidence present in the data. Building on previous work by authors such as Wagenmakers (2007), Rouder et al. (2009), and Masson (2011), this article provides a short introduction to Bayes factors, before providing a practical guide to their computation using examples from published work on problem solving.
Article
Full-text available
This paper proposes a way to encode exhaustivity in clefts as a presupposition, something which has been claimed to be adequate, but never successfully implemented. We furthermore show that the facts that prompted the need for such an analysis carry over to identity sentences with definite DPs and propose a way to achieve the same presuppositions for definite DPs. http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp.6.6 BibTeX info
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study examined the role of adversative connectives and causal connectivity in spoken and written discourse comprehension. Participants listened to or read an excerpt of a radio transmission, with or without connectives. Readers recalled and recognized more statements than listeners. Statements that had many causal connections were recalled and recognized more often than those with fewer connections. There was no effect of connective presence, but there was an interaction between connective presence and modality of presentation.
Article
Full-text available
Maximum likelihood or restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimates of the parameters in linear mixed-effects models can be determined using the lmer function in the lme4 package for R. As for most model-fitting functions in R, the model is described in an lmer call by a formula, in this case including both fixed- and random-effects terms. The formula and data together determine a numerical representation of the model from which the profiled deviance or the profiled REML criterion can be evaluated as a function of some of the model parameters. The appropriate criterion is optimized, using one of the constrained optimization functions in R, to provide the parameter estimates. We describe the structure of the model, the steps in evaluating the profiled deviance or REML criterion, and the structure of classes or types that represents such a model. Sufficient detail is included to allow specialization of these structures by users who wish to write functions to fit specialized linear mixed models, such as models incorporating pedigrees or smoothing splines, that are not easily expressible in the formula language used by lmer.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The research reported here investigates the interplay of the overt focus operators only and also with contrastive intonation. Our experiment consisted of two parts: a naturalness rating and a delayed truth value judgement task. The results of the rating task indicate that focus particles are perceived as equally natu-ral combined with an H* accent and an L+H* accent. The truth value judgement task showed that L+H* accents reinforce ex-haustive inferences to the same extent as the overt operator only. In the case of also, listeners infer an additive presuppo-sition even if such a presupposition is not explicitly introduced in the context. Overall, the results indicate that once an overt focus operator is present in an utterance, L+H* accents do not contribute any further information. In utterances without overt focus operators, on the other hand, L+H* accents act like an only operator.
Article
Full-text available
An eye-tracking experiment investigated whether incremental interpretation applies to interclausal relationships. According to Millis and Just's (1994) delayed-integration hypothesis, interclausal relationships are not computed until the end of the second clause, because the processor needs to have two full propositions before integration can occur. We investigated the processing of causal and diagnostic sentences (Sweetser, 1990; Tversky & Kahneman, 1982) that contained the connective because . Previous research (Traxler, Sanford, Aked, & Moxey, 1997) has demonstrated that readers have greater difficulty processing diagnostic sentences than causal sentences. Our results indicated that difficulty processing diagnostic sentences occurred well before the end of the second clause. Thus comprehenders appear to compute interclausal relationships incrementally.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Listeners are sensitive to contrastive alternatives in online language comprehension (e.g., Braun & Tagliapietra, 2010). Such alternatives play a crucial a role in the definition of particles like only which have been found (i) to facilitate recall of contextual alternatives (Spalek, et al., in revision) and (ii) to hamper the rejection of unmentioned alternatives (Gotzner et al., in preparation). The present study investigated the impact of combining a contrastive accent with a particle on memory for contextual alternatives. The results revealed that L+H* accents (contrastive) facilitate recognition of a contextual alternative to the accented item compared with H* accents (non-contrastive). Adding either the particle only or also to the L+H* accent slows probe recognition relative to a condition with bare L+H* accent. Hence, while contrastive accenting directly increases the salience of alternatives in a listener's mental model, focus particles lead to an initial processing cost.
Article
Full-text available
The process of text comprehension requires the integration of the information in the sentence currently being read with information previously read. This, in turn, implies that information presented earlier in the text must be accessed. We present a view of that access process as one in which concepts and propositions in the discourse representation resonate in response to related elements in the current sentence, initiating a process that makes available a subset of the information in the representation. In support of our position, we summarize the effects of several variables that have been shown to affect the availability of information in the discourse representation, and we describe a simulation model of the hypothesized resonance process, together with the results of several applications of that model.
Article
Full-text available
Previous work has shown that category noun-phrase anaphors (e.g., bird) are read faster when they refer to typical antecedents (e.g., robin) compared to atypical ones (e.g., goose) (Garrod & Sanford, 1977). However, when the antecedent is in a syntactic cleft, there is an inverse effect of typicality (Almor, 1999). We further examined this inverse effect in two self-paced reading time studies. The results of Experiment 1 extend the inverse typicality effect to a more general effect of conceptual distance by showing faster reading times to an anaphor (e.g., vehicle) when its antecedent is clefted and more conceptually distant in a category hierarchy (e.g., hatchback) than when it is closer (e.g., car). Experiment 2 examines whether it is cleft or focus status that causes inverse conceptual distance effects and finds that inverse effects are not confined to cleft constructions, but are also present when the antecedent is in grammatical subject position.
Article
Full-text available
Referents ("topics") serve as file labels in the episodic memory for stored text. The grammar of topic marking is a set of processing instructions that cue two major cognitive systems: attention and episodic memory. The cataphoric elements in the grammar tell the hearer/reader whether the referent is important and thus needs to be activated and then used as file label for a newly opened storage file in the episodic memory. Unimportant referents are not activated but rather are filed as new information in the currently active memory file. The anaphoric elements in the grammar tell the hearer/reader where to search for the topic in the existing storage structure of episodic memory. Coding a referent by zero or unstressed pronoun signals that it is the currently active topic, that it should retain its activation, and that incoming information should continue to be filed under its label. When a currently inactive referent is coded as definite and important, various grammatical devices tell the hearer/reader where to search for it in episodic memory. Following search and retrieval, the referent is then activated, and new incoming information is filed under its label.
Article
Full-text available
In 5 experiments, we investigated how syntactic focusing structures such as "There was this . . ." and "It was the . . ." influence discourse processing during reading. In Experiment 1, participants read brief stories and continued them by writing sentences of their own. Constituents introduced with a focusing structure were more likely to be referred to in story continuations than were concepts introduced with a neutral determiner (a, an, or the). Probe recognition experiments (2a, 2b, and 3) demonstrated that, when a concept in the subject position was probed immediately, syntactic focus had no effect, but responses were faster than when the probed concept was not in the subject position. When the probe was delayed, syntactically focused concepts were recognized faster than were concepts in the subject position that had not been focused (Experiment 4). These results indicate that syntactic focus increases salience and strengthens the memory trace of concepts in readers' discourse representations.
Article
Full-text available
Two experiments employed a lexical decision task and a delayed cued recall task to investigate whether and how syntactic focusing affects the online processing and long-term encoding of repeated and non-repeated definite NP anaphors in spoken language comprehension. For discourses with repeated anaphors (Experiment 1), focus facilitated lexical decisions but resulted in poorer recall performance. Discourses with non-repeated anaphors (Experiment 2) showed focus facilitation in lexical decision but no effects in recall. These results show that, similar to reading, spoken language comprehension is impeded by repeated reference to a focused discourse referent. The finding that repetition initially facilitates processing but then interferes with the resulting memory representation is consistent with theories that view referential processing as consisting of multiple stages that can be differentially impacted by repetition.
Article
Full-text available
Eye movement records have been used profitably to study on-line comprehension processes in reading. We present some basic facts about eye movements during reading, emphasising issues concerning the use of eye movement data to infer cognitive processes that are involved in (1) word processing, (2) syntactic parsing, and (3) higher-order processes. We review research on each of these topics and present new data dealing with word processing and high-order processes. We conclude that the analysis of eye movement records provides a great deal of useful information about on-line processing and that eye movement recording is a good way to study many critical issues concerning language comprehension processes.
Article
Answering prequestions benefits learning, but this benefit is mostly specific to material that was relevant to the prequestions (prequestioned material) and does not extend to other, nonprequestioned material. The current study examined whether this specific benefit is due to selective processing of prequestioned information during a learning experience. In 4 experiments, participants were assigned to a prequestion group or control group before viewing a 30-min video lecture. In Experiment 2, participants were instructed to take notes on information they thought was important during the video; in Experiment 3, the prequestion group was instructed to write down the answers to the prequestions; and in Experiment 4, the prequestion group was given the prequestions and instructed to answer them while viewing the video. On a later posttest in all experiments, the prequestion group outperformed the control group, but only for prequestioned material. Further, this benefit only occurred when the prequestion group successfully discovered the answers to the prequestions during the video by writing them down (Experiments 2 and 3) or circling them (Experiment 4). These results suggest that prequestion benefits depend on the degree to which participants can successfully notice and discover the answers to the prequestioned material during a video lecture. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
Chapter
The paper discusses whether association with focus is a structural operation involving LF movement, or an interpretational operation requiring the simpler mechanism of alternative semantics. It argues for a mixed approach: Association with focus phrases is via LF movement, association of focus within focus phrases is via projection of alternatives. Three arguments are presented that argue for this type of theory, whereas three other arguments are shown to be inconclusive. © 2006 by Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, D-10785 Berlin. All rights reserved.
Article
The function of focus is to activate a set of alternatives, providing the locus for focus‐sensitive particles like only. In the past decade, psycholinguistic research has shown that listeners entertain a set of alternatives in online language comprehension, similar to the algorithm stipulated by Alternative Semantics. The purpose of the present review is to gain a comprehensive picture of the role of focus alternatives in utterance comprehension and interpretation. Specifically, we focus on how the processing of focus particles interacts with alternatives activated by focus. We show that focus marking activates a network of related concepts, but over time, only those that can be considered as focus alternatives in the relevant context of the utterance are retained in the mental representation of the discourse. Focus particles, in turn, increase the competition between the focused element and its alternatives during the initial stages of comprehension, helping contextual restriction of the set of alternatives. Overall, the studies presented in this review show that focus does not only guide a listener in determining which alternatives are relevant for the purpose of conversation, it also plays a fundamental role in the memory representation of a discourse.
Article
One outstanding issue in the analysis of the meaning of clefts concerns the source of the exhaustive inference they convey. Conventionally-coded semantic accounts predict that this inference is robust and will arise regardless of contextual variation while allowing for cross-linguistic variation. On the contrary, non-conventionally-coded pragmatic accounts predict exhaustivity to be more variable within a language, including cases where it can be cancelled, although (potentially) the inference will be more stable across languages. This article presents an original empirical perspective on the debate by looking both at the interpretative and the processing properties of English compared to French clefts. The combination of offline and online measures reported here show crucial and surprising differences within and across the two languages, findings which are unexpected under all current theories of clefts' meaning. We discuss a preliminary sketch for an analysis, which proposes that the differences between French and English are due to the way the existential presupposition derived from the cleft structure interacts with context (cf. Pollard and Yasavul, in press; De Veaugh-Geiss et al., 2018).
Article
Contrastive pitch accents benefit native English speakers’ memory for discourse by enhancing a representation of a specific relevant contrast item (Fraundorf et al., 2010). This study examines whether and how second language (L2) listeners differ in how contrastive accents affect their encoding and representation of a discourse, as compared to native speakers. Using the same materials as Fraundorf et al. (2010), we found that low and mid proficiency L2 learners showed no memory benefit from contrastive accents. High proficiency L2 learners revealed some sensitivity to contrastive accents, but failed to fully integrate information conveyed by contrastive accents into their discourse representation. The results suggest that L2 listeners’ non-native performance in processing contrastive accents, observed in this and other prior studies, may be attributed at least in part to a difference in the depth of processing of the information conveyed by contrastive accents.
Article
Recently processed syntactic information is likely to play a fundamental role in online sentence comprehension. For example, there is now a good deal of evidence that the processing of a syntactic structure (the target) is facilitated if the same structure was processed on the immediately preceding trial (the prime), a phenomenon known as structural priming. However, compared with structural priming in production, structural priming in comprehension remains relatively understudied. We investigate an aspect of structural priming in comprehension that is comparatively well understood in production but has received little attention in comprehension: the cumulative effect of structural primes on subsequently processed sentences. We further ask whether this effect is modulated by lexical overlap between preceding primes and the target. In 3 self-paced reading experiments, we find that structural priming effects in comprehension are cumulative and of similar magnitude both with and without lexical overlap. We discuss the relevance of our results to questions about the relationship between recent experience and online language processing. (PsycINFO Database Record
Chapter
Inferences are essential to the comprehension of a text or other discourse. Through inferences the reader connects parts of the text and, in doing so, creates coherence beyond the individual text units (e.g., sentences, clauses). Given their central role to text comprehension, inferences feature prominently in cognitive models of reading and comprehension. In this paper, we review central aspects of inferences in text generation and comprehension, in three sections organized around three aspects of inference making: (1) What inferences are made during reading and what are the processes involved (online)? (2) What role do inferences play in a mental representation of the text once reading has been completed (off-line)? (3) How do the moment-by-moment inferential processes during reading (online) result in the gradual emergence of the mental representation the reader has at completion of the reading (off-line)? In the final section we briefly review extensions to the study of the development of reading skills, and to the study of neurological processes involved in text comprehension. Different types of semantic relations can be inferred by readers. In this chapter, we focus on those relations that most directly contribute to comprehension and a coherent representation of the text, namely referential and causal/logical relations (Sanders and Spooren, 2007; Singer, 1994; van den Broek, 1994). Referential relations establish the identity of an object or person in one part of the text to that in another part (e.g., the anaphoric ‘she’ in one sentence refers to ‘Amanda’ in an earlier sentence; ‘the building’ in one sentence refers to a factory mentioned in an earlier portion of the text). Causal/logical relations establish the explanation or logical antecedents of events or information in one sentence by connecting them to events or information in another sentence (e.g., the glass breaking in one sentence is explained by a protagonist dropping the glass in an earlier sentence; the fact that a particular region is described as a desert in one sentence implies that the ground is dry in another sentence).
Article
This article argues that identificational focus, which expresses exhaustive identification and occupies the specifier of a functional projection, must be distinguished in language description from information focus, which conveys new information and involves no syntactic reordering. The properties of the two types of focus are established on the basis of Hungarian and English material. It is argued that the cleft constituent is the realization of identificational focus in English. Only-phrases are analyzed as identificational foci carrying an evaluative presupposition. The feature specification of identificational focus is shown to be subject to parametric variation: the focus operators of various languages are specified for the positive value of either or both of the features [ + exhaustive] and [ + contrastive].
Article
Successful language comprehension often requires comprehenders to infer contrastive focus alternatives, but the mechanisms used to establish contrastive alternatives are still poorly understood. We propose that comprehenders establish contrastive alternatives by using selection mechanisms that distinguish contrastive from non-contrastive candidates. To examine this proposal, we investigated the time course of contrastive alternatives in two cross-modal priming experiments, manipulating contrastive focus on prime words and the contrastiveness of visual targets. Experiment 1 examined early processing where comprehenders are entertaining candidates for contrastive alternatives. Experiment 2 examined later processing where comprehenders have selected contrastive alternatives from the candidate set. Results demonstrated that when primes were contrastively focused, initially both contrastive and non-contrastive associates were facilitated, but, in subsequent processing, non-contrastive associates became deactivated while contrastive associates maintained facilitation. We argue that selection mechanisms distinguish contrastive from non-contrastive candidates by deactivating non-contrastive candidates, enabling comprehenders to draw proper inferences about speakers’ implicit meanings.
Article
Lexical cloning, formally known as 'contrastive focus reduplication', refers to the phenomenon whereby there is a modifier reduplication of a lexical item. The reduplicated modifier, which receives a contrastive focus accent, is used to single out some privileged sense, in contrast to other senses, of an ambiguous, polysemous, vague or loose lexical expression (Huang, 2009). Lexical cloning is found in a variety of Englishes including American, Australian, British, Canadian, New Zealand, and South African English, but it is most widely used in American English. It is also a recent phenomenon. Furthermore, the use of lexical clones is largely restricted to a certain, informal conversational register of spoken English. Even the tokens of lexical cloning that are found in written English such as scripts for plays, films and TV programmes are largely representations of spontaneous spoken language (as a mode) in written form (as the medium). In this short paper, improving on Huang (2009), I shall first provide a description of lexical cloning in English. I shall then discuss context-dependency of lexical cloning. Finally, I shall outline a neo-Gricean lexical pragmatic analysis of this novel lexical phenomenon in the language.
Article
Repeated words are often reduced in prosodic prominence, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. The present study contrasted two theories: does prosodic reduction reflect the choice of a particular linguistic form, or does ease of retrieval within the language production system lead to facilitated, less prominent productions? One test of facilitation-based theories is suggested by findings on human memory: whether a second presentation of an item benefits later memory is predicted by the item's availability at the time of the second presentation. If prosodic reduction partially reflects facilitated retrieval, it should predict later memory. One naive participant described to another participant routes on a map. Critical items were mentioned twice. Following the map task, the speaker attempted written recall of the mentioned items. As expected, acoustic intensity of the second mentions predicted later recall in the same way that difficulty of retrieval has in other tasks. This pattern suggests that one source of prosodic reduction is facilitation within the language production system.
Article
Bayesian inference has become a standard method of analysis in many fields of science. Students and researchers in experimental psychology and cognitive science, however, have failed to take full advantage of the new and exciting possibilities that the Bayesian approach affords. Ideal for teaching and self study, this book demonstrates how to do Bayesian modeling. Short, to-the-point chapters offer examples, exercises and computer code (using WinBUGS or JAGS, and supported by Matlab and R), with additional support available online. No advance knowledge of statistics is required and, from the very start, readers are encouraged to apply and adjust Bayesian analyses by themselves. The book contains a series of chapters on parameter estimation and model selection, followed by detailed case studies from cognitive science. After working through this book, readers should be able to build their own Bayesian models, apply the models to their own data and draw their own conclusions.
Article
Many young readers fail to construct a proper mental text representation, often due to a lack of higher-order skills such as making integrative and inferential links. In an eye-tracking experiment among 141 Dutch eighth graders, we tested whether coherence markers (moreover, after, because) improve students’ online processing and their off-line comprehension of narrative and expository texts. Eye-tracking results show that connectives lead to faster processing of subsequent information as well as shorter rereading times of previous text information. Connectives also trigger readers to make regressions to preceding information. These findings indicate that connectives function as immediate “processing instructions.” Furthermore, all students performed better on local comprehension tasks (i.e., bridging inference questions) after reading texts containing connectives than after reading texts without these markers. These findings apply to both text types and to all students, regardless of reading proficiency. This study highlights the importance of comprehensible texts in which implicit coherence relations are avoided.
Article
The results of 4 experiments, which involved 239 college students, indicate that the presence of a connective such as because increases the activation level of the 1st clause when placed between 2 clauses of a sentence. Immediately after reading 2 clauses that were either linked or not linked by a connective, Ss judged whether a probe word had been mentioned in 1 of the clauses. The recognition probe times to the verb from the 1st statement were faster when a connective had conjoined the statements than when the statements constituted 2 separate sentences. Exp 2 indicated that the reactivation of the 1st clause occurred at the end of the 2nd statement but not at the beginning of the 2nd statement. The results of Exp 3 revealed that the reactivation effect occurred for related statement pairs but not for unrelated statement pairs. Exp 4 showed that the reactivation effect also generalized to the connective although. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
G*Power (Erdfelder, Faul, & Buchner, 1996) was designed as a general stand-alone power analysis program for statistical tests commonly used in social and behavioral research. G*Power 3 is a major extension of, and improvement over, the previous versions. It runs on widely used computer platforms (i.e., Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.4) and covers many different statistical tests of the t, F, and chi2 test families. In addition, it includes power analyses for z tests and some exact tests. G*Power 3 provides improved effect size calculators and graphic options, supports both distribution-based and design-based input modes, and offers all types of power analyses in which users might be interested. Like its predecessors, G*Power 3 is free.
Article
This paper discusses the semantics of the connective but. Two trends of analyses are compared: ones based on a notion of formal contrast and others that are inferential. First, the formal contrast approaches are evaluated with respect to a certain number of problematic examples. I argue that they encounter insurmountable issues, and that an inferential account is needed. However, the way the inference required in those latter accounts is drawn needs to be defined in a restricted way. I propose to use the probabilistic interpretation of the notion of argumentation to carry this out. It is argued that to be interpreted, but needs an argumentative goal that is debated by its conjuncts. In the absence of an explicit goal or one that can be deduced by world-knowledge, the goal must be abduced from the content of the but conjuncts alone by taking their information structure into account. My proposal for but is then shown to interact with that of other particles: too, only and yet.
Article
Corrective uses of adversative markers like but, as in John isn’t going to Paris, but to Berlin, have proved rather difficult to capture in a unified theory of adversative markers, whereas corrective uses of additive markers, as in John is going to Berlin, and not to Paris, have been almost entirely ignored in theoretical semantics and pragmatics. These uses are taken under closer consideration in this paper, with special focus on the phenomenon I will refer to as (a)symmetric correction. I propose the following generalisation. Adversative markers are asymmetric in their corrective uses (e.g. the English but). That is, the first conjunct of but must be negated, while the second is positive. If the order of the negative and the positive conjunct is reversed, the corrective reading is not available for but, though it can be recovered if but is replaced by and or left out altogether. In contrast, additive markers are symmetric in this function. If a language standardly employs an additive marker to express correction (e.g. the Russian a), the order of the negative and the positive conjunct does not affect its corrective interpretation. The present paper develops a unified account of the semantics of but which accommodates its corrective uses and explains the above mentioned asymmetry. The proposed solution has non-trivial consequences for a general theory of additivity and adversativity, in particular, for the ongoing debate which function of but is the most basic, ‘denial of expectation’ or ‘formal contrast’.
Article
The paper tries to contribute to the semantical characterisation of adversative conjunctions and to the explanation of their distribution with respect to other conjunctions. The starting point is the view that all conjunctions including adversative ones can be characterised as special cases of additive marking and that the distributional pattern follows by simple blocking in which the more specific additive marker blocks a less specific one. While this seems to work, the account of adversative conjunctions like but that results in an additive analysis runs into serious problems. The paper tries to do better by developing an alternative account of adversativity in which but-clauses primarily have the function of marking the rhetorical relation of objection: they mark the fact that the speaker is objecting to a proposal that is contextually given. The paper shows how such an account could still explain the distributional facts.
Article
Subjects learned a list of pairs of unrelated one-clause sentences. The second sentence, cued by the first, was more frequently recalled if the sentence pair was connected by “because” or if subjects were to think of causal relationships than if the sentence pair was unconnected or connected by “and” or “but”. This effect is not due to differential retrievability, rather to inferential association formation elicited by the conjunction “because” as opposed to the conjunction “and.” “But” also elicited inferences which, however, were not successful in establishing a coherent framework integrating the sentences.
Article
Three experiments investigated how font emphasis influences reading and remembering discourse. Although past work suggests that contrastive pitch contours benefit memory by promoting encoding of salient alternatives, it is unclear both whether this effect generalizes to other forms of linguistic prominence and how the set of alternatives is constrained. Participants read discourses in which some true propositions had salient alternatives (e.g., British scientists found the endangered monkey when the discourse also mentioned French scientists) and completed a recognition memory test. In Experiments 1 and 2, font emphasis in the initial presentation increased participants' ability to later reject false statements about salient alternatives but not about unmentioned items (e.g., Portuguese scientists). In Experiment 3, font emphasis helped reject false statements about plausible alternatives, but not about less plausible alternatives that were nevertheless established in the discourse. These results suggest readers encode a narrow set of only those alternatives plausible in the particular discourse. They also indicate that multiple manipulations of linguistic prominence, not just prosody, can lead to consideration of alternatives.
Article
This study focuses on the cognitive representation of causal coherence relations linguistically marked with the connective because. We investigated whether these local causal relations are represented both at the level of the textbase and the situation model. Following earlier studies investigating the psychological validity of levels of discourse representation, we used a sentence recognition paradigm in which the connective used to indicate the relation between sentences was manipulated. The recognition results obtained in two experiments show that participants only detect changes made at the level of the situation model (because versus and), but do not detect differences at the level in surface code (two variants of Dutch because) and text base (because versus after). As no evidence of a separate textbase representation was found, the results suggest that local causal relations are represented at the level of the situation model only.
Article
This paper presents a novel analysis of the contrastive connector but based on the observation that (i) the contrast induced by but relates to the information structure of the conjuncts and (ii) the use of but requires a denial with respect to an implicit question. It is shown that but combines additivity, as in and/also, and exclusion, as in only. This analysis provides a uniform basis to explain the apparently different uses of but, including semantic opposition, denial-of-expectation, and topic change. Moreover, it sheds new light on the concessive use of but.