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      Intervention effects in NPI licensing: A quantitative assessment of the scalar implicature explanation


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          This paper reports on five experiments investigating intervention effects in negative polarity item (NPI) licensing. Such intervention effects involve the unexpected ungrammaticality of sentences that contain an intervener, such as a universal quantifier, in between the NPI and its licensor. For example, the licensing of the NPI any in the sentence * Monkey didn’t give every lion any chocolate is disrupted by intervention. Interveners also happen to be items that trigger scalar implicatures in environments in which NPIs are licensed ( Chierchia 2004; 2013). A natural hypothesis, initially proposed in Chierchia ( 2004), is that there is a link between the two phenomena. In this paper, we investigate whether intervention effects arise when scalar implicatures are derived.

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          Linguistic complexity: locality of syntactic dependencies.

          This paper proposes a new theory of the relationship between the sentence processing mechanism and the available computational resources. This theory--the Syntactic Prediction Locality Theory (SPLT)--has two components: an integration cost component and a component for the memory cost associated with keeping track of obligatory syntactic requirements. Memory cost is hypothesized to be quantified in terms of the number of syntactic categories that are necessary to complete the current input string as a grammatical sentence. Furthermore, in accordance with results from the working memory literature both memory cost and integration cost are hypothesized to be heavily influenced by locality (1) the longer a predicted category must be kept in memory before the prediction is satisfied, the greater is the cost for maintaining that prediction; and (2) the greater the distance between an incoming word and the most local head or dependent to which it attaches, the greater the integration cost. The SPLT is shown to explain a wide range of processing complexity phenomena not previously accounted for under a single theory, including (1) the lower complexity of subject-extracted relative clauses compared to object-extracted relative clauses, (2) numerous processing overload effects across languages, including the unacceptability of multiply center-embedded structures, (3) the lower complexity of cross-serial dependencies relative to center-embedded dependencies, (4) heaviness effects, such that sentences are easier to understand when larger phrases are placed later and (5) numerous ambiguity effects, such as those which have been argued to be evidence for the Active Filler Hypothesis.
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            When People Are More Logical Under Cognitive Load

            Abstract. The present study introduces dual task methodology to test opposing psychological processing predictions concerning the nature of implicatures in pragmatic theories. Implicatures routinely arise in human communication when hearers interpret utterances pragmatically and go beyond the logical meaning of the terms. The neo-Gricean view (e.g., Levinson, 2000 ) assumes that implicatures are generated automatically whereas relevance theory ( Sperber & Wilson, 1986/1995 ) assumes that implicatures are effortful and not automatic. Participants were presented a sentence verification task with underinformative sentences that have the potential to produce scalar implicatures like Some oaks are trees . Depending on the nature of the interpretation of Some (logical or pragmatic) the sentence is judged true or false. Executive cognitive resources were experimentally burdened by the concurrent memorization of complex dot patterns during the interpretation process. Results showed that participants made more logical and fewer pragmatic interpretations under load. Findings provide direct support for the relevance theory view.
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              A test of the relation between working-memory capacity and syntactic island effects


                Author and article information

                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Ubiquity Press
                20 April 2018
                : 3
                : 1
                [1 ]Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (ENS, EHESS, CNRS), Département d’Etudes Cognitives, Ecole Normale Supérieure, PSL Research University, 29 rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris, FR
                [2 ]Institut Jean-Nicod (ENS, EHESS, CNRS), Département d’Etudes Cognitives, Ecole Normale Supérieure, PSL Research University, 29 rue d’Ulm, 75005 Paris, FR
                [3 ]Western Sydney University, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith NSW 2751, AU
                [4 ]ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Australian Hearing Hub, 16 University Avenue, Macquarie University NSW 2109, AU
                Copyright: © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


                General linguistics,Linguistics & Semiotics
                negative polarity items,experimental semantics,scalar implicature,intervention effects


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