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      Processing Non-at-Issue Meanings of Conditional Connectives: The wenn/falls Contrast in German

      Frontiers in Psychology
      Frontiers Media S.A.
      conditional connectives, German, experiment, speaker commitment, non-at-issue meaning

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          Logical connectives in natural language pose challenges to truth-conditional semantics due to pragmatics and gradience in their meaning. This paper reports on a case study of the conditional connectives (CCs) wenn/falls ‘if/when, if/in case’ in German. Using distributional evidence, I argue that wenn and falls differ in lexical pragmatics: They express different degrees of speaker commitment (i.e., credence) toward the modified antecedent proposition at the non-at-issue dimension. This contrast can be modeled using the speaker commitment scale ( Giannakidou and Mari, 2016), i.e., More committed<WENN p, FALLS p> Less committed. Four experiments are reported which tested the wenn/falls contrast, as well as the summary of an additional one from Liu (2019). Experiment 1 tested the naturalness of sentences containing the CCs ( wenn or falls) and conditional antecedents with varying degrees of likelihood (very likely/likely/unlikely). The starting prediction was that falls might be degraded in combination with very likely and likely events in comparison to the other conditions, which was not borne out. Experiment 2 used the forced lexical choice paradigm, testing the choice between wenn and falls in the doxastic agent’s conditional thought, depending on their belief or disbelief in the antecedent. The finding was that subjects chose falls significantly more often than wenn in the disbelief-context, and vice versa in the belief-context. Experiment 3 tested the naturalness of sentences with CCs and an additional relative clause conveying the speaker’s belief or disbelief in the antecedent. An interaction was found: While in the belief-context, wenn was rated more natural than falls, the reverse pattern was found in the disbelief-context. While the results are mixed, the combination of the findings in Experiment 2, Experiment 3 and that of Experiment 4a from Liu (2019) that falls led to lower speaker commitment ratings than wenn, provide evidence for the CC scale. Experiment 4b tested the interaction between two speaker commitment scales, namely, one of connectives (including weil ‘because’ and wenn/falls) and the other of adverbs (factive vs. non-factive, Liu, 2012). While factive and non-factive adverbs were rated equally natural for the factive causal connective, non-factive adverbs were preferred over factive ones by both CCs, with no difference between wenn and falls. This is discussed together with the result in Liu (2019), where the wenn/falls difference occurred in the absence of negative polarity items (NPIs), but disappeared in the presence of NPIs. This raises further questions on how different speaker commitment scales interact and why.

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          Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal.

          Linear mixed-effects models (LMEMs) have become increasingly prominent in psycholinguistics and related areas. However, many researchers do not seem to appreciate how random effects structures affect the generalizability of an analysis. Here, we argue that researchers using LMEMs for confirmatory hypothesis testing should minimally adhere to the standards that have been in place for many decades. Through theoretical arguments and Monte Carlo simulation, we show that LMEMs generalize best when they include the maximal random effects structure justified by the design. The generalization performance of LMEMs including data-driven random effects structures strongly depends upon modeling criteria and sample size, yielding reasonable results on moderately-sized samples when conservative criteria are used, but with little or no power advantage over maximal models. Finally, random-intercepts-only LMEMs used on within-subjects and/or within-items data from populations where subjects and/or items vary in their sensitivity to experimental manipulations always generalize worse than separate F 1 and F 2 tests, and in many cases, even worse than F 1 alone. Maximal LMEMs should be the 'gold standard' for confirmatory hypothesis testing in psycholinguistics and beyond.
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            Mixed-effects modeling with crossed random effects for subjects and items

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              Logic and Conversation


                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                10 August 2021
                : 12
                : 629177
                Department of English and American Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin , Berlin, Germany
                Author notes

                Edited by: Yury Y. Shtyrov, Aarhus University, Denmark

                Reviewed by: Karolina Krzyżanowska, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; Mailin Antomo, University of Göttingen, Germany; Laia Mayol, Pompeu Fabra University, Spain; Jacqueline Visconti, University of Genoa, Italy

                *Correspondence: Mingya Liu, mingya.liu@ 123456hu-berlin.de

                This article was submitted to Language Sciences, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2021 Liu.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 13 November 2020
                : 23 June 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 6, Equations: 0, References: 64, Pages: 18, Words: 0
                Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft 10.13039/501100001659
                Original Research

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                conditional connectives,german,experiment,speaker commitment,non-at-issue meaning


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