Alternative Sets in Language Processing

How Focus Alternatives are Represented in the Mind

  • Nicole Gotzner

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Nicole Gotzner
    Pages 1-10
  3. Nicole Gotzner
    Pages 11-40
  4. Nicole Gotzner
    Pages 103-122
  5. Nicole Gotzner
    Pages 123-138
  6. Nicole Gotzner
    Pages 139-159
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 161-162

About this book


This book presents a novel experimental approach to investigating the mental representation of linguistic alternatives. Combining theoretical and psycholinguistic questions concerning the nature of alternative sets, it sheds new light on the theory of focus and the cognitive mechanisms underlying the processing of alternatives. In a series of language comprehension experiments, the author shows that intonational focus and focus particles such as ‘only’ shape the representation of alternatives in a listener’s mind in a fundamental way. This book is relevant to researchers interested in semantics, pragmatics, language processing and memory.

Nicole Gotzner is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin, Germany. She is affiliated with the DFG Priority Programme “New Pragmatic Theories Based on Experimental Evidence”. Her research combines semantic and pragmatic theory with language processing and child language acquisition.


mental representations long-term memory alternative semantics focus intonation prosodic focus delayed recall competitive inhibition implicatures

Authors and affiliations

  • Nicole Gotzner
    • 1
  1. 1.Humboldt UniversityBerlinGermany

Bibliographic information