Content and context in incremental processing: “the ham sandwich” revisited
- 648 Downloads
The interplay of content and context is observable in a moment to moment manner as propositional content unfolds. The current contribution illustrates this through data from real-time language comprehension indicating that propositional content is not computed in isolation but relies in important ways on context during every step of the computation of meaning. The relevant notion of context that we have to adopt includes all aspects of possible worlds and draws on a variety of knowledge representations, which in a first processing phase serve to generate expectations for upcoming words. In a second phase, the discourse representation is assessed and if necessary updated by means of inferential reasoning and enrichment to reflect the speaker’s intended meaning.
KeywordsPragmatics Meaning shift Context Speaker meaning Inference
A version of this work has been presented at the Content, Context and Conversation Workshop at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg of the Georg-August University Göttingen in 2011. I would like to thank the organizers, Magdalena Kaufmann, Christian Beyer and Markus Steinbach, and the workshop audience for inspiring discussion. The research on meaning shift was carried out as part of a project funded by the German Research Foundation (BU 1853/2-1). I am grateful to Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky (at that time at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig) for generously providing lab space to conduct this study in collaboration with the Clinic for Audiology and Phoniatry (Prof. Manfred Gross) of the Charité Berlin, and Katja Bruening, Elisabeth Dietz, Jona Sassenhagen, and Jan Patrick Zeller for their assistance at various stages of data preparation, collection and analysis.
- Chafe, W. (1976). Givenness, contrastiveness, definiteness, subjects, topics, and point of view. In C. N. Li (Ed.), Subject and topic (pp. 25–55). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Egg, M. (2004). Metonymie als Phänomen der Semantik-Pragmatik-Schnittstelle. Metaphorik, 6, 36–53.Google Scholar
- 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
- Jackendoff, R. S. (1997). The architecture of the language faculty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Schumacher, P. B. (2009). Definiteness marking shows late effects during discourse processing: Evidence from ERPs. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 5847, 91–106.Google Scholar
- Schumacher, P. B. (2011). The hepatitis called…: Electrophysiological evidence for enriched composition. In J. Meibauer & M. Steinbach (Eds.), Experimental pragmatics/semantics (pp. 199–219). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
- Schumacher, P. B. (2012). Context in neurolinguistics: Time-course data from electrophysiology. In R. Finkbeiner, J. Meibauer, & P. B. Schumacher (Eds.), What is a context? Linguistic approaches and challenges (pp. 33–53). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
- Schumacher, P. B., & Meibauer, J. (2013). Pragmatic inferences and expert knowledge. In F. Liedtke & C. Schulze (Eds.), Beyond words. Content, context, and inference (pp. 231–248). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Vallduví, E. (1992). The informational component. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
- Wang, L., & Schumacher, P. B. (2013). New is not always costly: Evidence form online processing of topic and contrast in Japanese. Frontiers in Psychology, 4(363), 1–20.Google Scholar