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Real-Time Commitments in Processing Individual/Degree Polysemy

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Grammatical Approaches to Language Processing

Part of the book series: Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics ((SITP,volume 48))

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Abstract

Individual/degree polysemy is a phenomenon in which individual-denoting Determiner Phrases of any type can, in certain contexts, denote a degree corresponding to some salient measure of that individual. Like deferred reference, individual/degree polysemy conditions agreement: compare Four pizzas are vegetarian to Four pizzas is more than Sue had asked for. In this paper, we test whether readers commit to a single meaning of potentially polysemous DPs during real-time sentence processing. Immediate commitments have been found for other cases of grammatical ambiguity, for example collective or distributive uses of verbs, whereas readers do not necessarily commit to one sense of a lexically polysemous element (e.g., the concrete or abstract sense of newspaper). We present the results of one study of eye movements during reading and one self-paced reading study. Our results provide evidence that there are immediate commitments to the individual sense and the degree sense, depending on the internal properties of the Determiner Phrase. In particular, there is some evidence that definite DPs like the pizzas have a commitment to an individual interpretation, and stronger evidence that numeral DPs like two pizzas have a commitment to a degree interpretation. We discuss our results in light of the Minimal Semantic Commitment hypothesis proposed by Frazier, Pacht and Rayner.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Predicates like be enough and be sufficient can take individuals or degrees as their arguments (Rett, 2014: 247); since the standard of comparison these predicates invoke is often covert (Meier, 2003), it is sometimes hard to tell which reading a given instantiation of the predicate is receiving. Number agreement is one clue; a plural individual argument triggers plural agreement, while a degree interpretation triggers singular agreement. A minimal pair is illustrated below.

    figure d
  2. 2.

    A typical partitive construction, like five of the children, is used to select a sub-part of the specific plurality (e.g., a set of children) denoted by the definite DP. Pseudopartitives like two cups of wine are so named because, although they are similar to partitives in structure, they do not presuppose the existence of a specific plurality out of which a subpart is selected (see e.g., Selkirk, 1977; Brasoveanu, 2009).

  3. 3.

    The p-values reported include corrections for violations of sphericity where appropriate.

  4. 4.

    For the critical DP and first spillover regions, models with random slopes did not converge. Follow-up ANOVAs showed that the reported effects were significant in by-participants and by-items analyses.

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Acknowledgements

Experiment 1 was conducted while the first author was an Assistant Professor (limited-term) at the University of Toronto, and was supported in part by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Internal Grant to the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto. The corresponding author is currently funded by the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Preis 2014 awarded to Prof. Dr. Artemis Alexiadou (AL554/8-1). We thank Elena-Cristina Feraru, Daria Kotcherova and Kelly-Ann Blake for their assistance in running participants. We are grateful for feedback from the audience at the 29th CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing at the University of Florida, the 39th annual conference of the German Linguistic Society, and members of the Research Group on Experimental Syntax and Heritage Languages at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

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Correspondence to Margaret Grant .

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Appendices

Appendix 1: Model Parameter Estimates, Experiment 1

Model parameters for fixed effects, Go-Past Time

  

\( \hat{\beta } \)

SE

t

p

Pre-critical

Intercept

5.933

0.065

91.728

<0.001

DP type: Num

−0.020

0.041

−0.482

0.632

DP type: Many

0.005

0.040

0.136

0.894

Cont.

0.017

0.030

0.560

0.577

DP:Num*CONT

−0.010

0.037

−0.268

0.789

DP:Many*CONT

−0.023

0.037

−0.625

0.532

Critical

Intercept

6.136

0.067

91.279

<0.001

DP type: Num

−0.023

0.038

−0.623

0.536

DP type: Many

0.035

0.037

0.943

0.350

Cont.

0.147

0.046

3.226

0.002

DP:Num*CONT

0.093

0.036

2.571

0.0103

DP:Many*CONT

−0.031

0.035

−0.864

0.388

Post-Crit. 1

Intercept

5.902

0.056

105.886

<0.001

DP type: Num

0.032

0.041

0.780

0.436

DP type: Many

0.006

0.042

0.143

0.887

Cont.

−0.027

0.030

−0.884

0.377

DP:Num*CONT

0.090

0.042

2.149

0.032

DP:Many*CONT

0.013

0.042

0.306

0.760

Post-Crit. 2†

Intercept

6.036

0.068

88.251

<0.001

DP type: Num

0.001

0.047

0.021

0.983

DP type: Many

−0.012

0.047

−0.251

0.802

Cont.

−0.015

0.034

−0.451

0.652

DP:Num*CONT

−0.016

0.049

−0.320

0.749

DP:Many*CONT

0.012

0.047

0.253

0.800

  1. Note † indicates models run without random slopes (supporting ANOVAs reported in the text). Bold indicates statistically significant parameters

Model parameters for fixed effects, Total Time

  

\( \hat{\beta } \)

SE

t

P

Pre-critical†

Intercept

6.093

0.063

96.800

<0.001

DP type: Num

0.005

0.038

0.140

0.889

DP type: Many

0.103

0.038

2.712

0.007

Cont.

−0.021

0.027

−0.768

0.443

DP:Num*CONT

−0.064

0.039

−1.667

0.096

DP:Many*CONT

0.031

0.038

−0.803

0.422

Critical

Intercept

6.286

0.068

92.425

<0.001

DP type: Num

−0.057

0.037

−1.529

0.128

DP type: Many

0.044

0.039

1.112

0.275

Cont.

0.109

0.049

2.227

0.030

DP:Num*CONT

0.164

0.037

4.480

<0.001

DP:Many*CONT

−0.053

0.036

−1.469

0.142

Post-Crit. 1†

Intercept

6.002

0.057

104.559

<0.001

DP type: Num

0.043

0.039

1.102

0.271

DP type: Many

0.057

0.039

1.452

0.147

Cont.

−0.036

0.028

−1.271

0.2040

DP:Num*CONT

−0.071

0.039

−1.802

0.0718

DP:Many*CONT

−0.037

0.039

−0.954

0.3404

Post-Crit. 2

Intercept

6.086

0.058

105.191

<0.001

DP type: Num

−0.047

0.045

−1.049

0.301

DP type: Many

−0.026

0.048

−0.549

0.587

Cont.

−0.036

0.029

−1.235

0.219

DP:Num*CONT

0.037

0.039

0.966

0.334

DP:Many*CONT

−0.005

0.038

−0.127

0.899

  1. Note † indicates models run without random slopes (supporting ANOVAs reported in the text). Bold indicates statistically significant parameters

Appendix 2: Model Parameter Estimates, Experiment 2

  

\( \hat{\beta } \)

SE

t

P

Pre-critical

Intercept

5.905

0.040

149.461

<0.001

DP type

−0.020

0.008

−2.671

0.00973

Cont.

0.003

0.005

0.578

0.56552

DP type*Cont.

0.002

0.005

0.482

0.62959

Post-critical

Intercept

6.053

0.040

151.558

<0.001

DP type

0.013

0.005

2.587

0.0106

Cont.

−0.023

0.008

−2.984

0.0046

DP type*Cont.

0.009

0.005

1.911

0.0561

  1. Note Bold indicates statistically significant parameters

Appendix 3: Sentence Materials, Experiment 1

  1. 1.

    John assumed {the pizzas/four pizzas/many pizzas} would be {enough to feed/delicious food for} the hungry students.

  2. 2.

    Ella assumed {the toothbrushes/thirty toothbrushes/many toothbrushes} would be {enough for/extra soft for} the dentists to give to their patients.

  3. 3.

    Luanna believed {the shirts/ten shirts/many shirts} would be {enough/royal blue} to outfit the entire soccer team.

  4. 4.

    Emma was sure {the ribbons/twenty ribbons/many ribbons} would be {enough/suitable} to decorate the hall for the commemoration.

  5. 5.

    Kate was sure {the roses/four roses/many roses} would be {enough/classic flowers} to make beautiful centerpieces.

  6. 6.

    Beth was sure {the plates/fifty plates/many plates} would be {enough/warmed} for all the guests to take part in the buffet.

  7. 7.

    Victor was sure {the cars/three cars/many cars} would be {enough/vintage sedans} to escort the whole wedding party.

  8. 8.

    Serena assumed {the umbrellas/two umbrellas/many umbrellas} would be {enough to protect/would be striped and would protect} the guests from the harsh sun.

  9. 9.

    Peter assumed {the pears/seven pears/many pears} would be {enough to give/tasty and would give} the punch a nice fruit flavour.

  10. 10.

    Kira believed {the fire crackers/twelve fire crackers/many fire crackers} would be {enough/bright and loud} to make the ceremony very memorable.

  11. 11.

    Thomas was certain {the tennis balls/fifteen tennis balls/many tennis balls} would be {enough/neon yellow} for the Wimbledon final.

  12. 12.

    Mike suspected {the hamburgers/six hamburgers/many hamburgers} would be {more than they needed/fresh and juicy} for the barbecue on Saturday.

  13. 13.

    Brittany argued {the party favours/five party favours/many party favours} would be {more than they needed/fun and festive} for the bachlorette party.

  14. 14.

    Jackie concluded {the coconuts/two coconuts/many coconuts} would be {more than was required/hard to crack open} for the pina colada recipe.

  15. 15.

    Adrian argued {the tools/five tools/many tools} would be {more than they needed/precise and effective} to pull off the big heist.

  16. 16.

    Nick realized {the boxes/nine boxes/many boxes} would be {more than they needed/solid and durable} to store all the papers from the trial.

  17. 17.

    Jenna thought {the purses/two purses/many purses} would be {more than was needed/small and sparkly} for the ladies’ night out.

  18. 18.

    Zoey was certain {the cupcakes/ninety cupcakes/many cupcakes} would be {more than we could sell/sweet and decadent to sell at} at the bake sale.

  19. 19.

    Tess thought {the samosas/three samosas/many samosas} would be {more than she wanted/crispy and savory} to eat as an appetizer.

  20. 20.

    Christine decided {the tickets/five tickets/many tickets} would be {more than they needed/cheap and easy to get} for everyone to watch the game.

  21. 21.

    Quinn thought {the pies/ten pies/many pies} would be {more than they needed/blueberry flavour} for the pie eating contest.

  22. 22.

    Tania worried {the oranges/six oranges/many oranges} would be {less than was needed/sour and too dry} for the chef to make sorbet.

  23. 23.

    Ben thought {the film rolls/five film rolls/many film rolls} would be {less than they needed/black and white} to capture the whole wedding.

  24. 24.

    Joey decided {the books/twenty books/many books} would be {less than was needed/engaging and scholarly} for the library’s collection.

  25. 25.

    Victoria worried {the apples/two apples/many apples} would be {less than they needed/bland and mushy} for the pie.

  26. 26.

    Jackson thought {the candles/fifty candles/many candles} would be {less than they needed/beautiful ambient lighting} to light up the dining hall.

  27. 27.

    Lucas believed {the roast chickens/ten roast chickens/many roast chickens} would be {less than they needed/seasoned with sea salt} for the wedding reception.

  28. 28.

    David realized {the scarves/seven scarves/many scarves} would be {less than we needed/soft and warm} to help the shelter’s clients.

  29. 29.

    Henry suspected {the paintings/seven paintings/many paintings} would be {less than they needed/provocative and modern} for the new exhibit.

  30. 30.

    Josh suspected {the songs/thirty songs/many songs} would be {less than we needed/upbeat and danceable} for a DJ set at the party.

  31. 31.

    Scott thought {the pumpkins/nine pumpkins/many pumpkins} would be {less than the kids needed to/carved into jack-o’-lanterns to} decorate the house for halloween.

  32. 32.

    Fred figured {the markers/three markers/many markers} would be {less than was needed/permanent sharpies} for the students to make the poster.

  33. 33.

    Jane worried {the tacos/twenty tacos/many tacos} would not be {enough food/hot and spicy} for the guests at the party.

  34. 34.

    Brian figured {the carrots/eleven carrots/many carrots} would not be {enough/delicious and crunchy} to feed the horses after the competition.

  35. 35.

    Kim realized {the necklaces/three necklaces/many necklaces} would not be {enough/glamourous and perfect} to complete the outfit.

  36. 36.

    Sean figured {the pans/eight pans/many pans} would not be {enough/greased with butter} to fry all the pancakes.

  37. 37.

    Oliver thought {the hotdogs/twelve hotdogs/many hotdogs} would not be {enough/original and tasty} for people to eat at the barbecue.

  38. 38.

    Sophie suspected {the energy bars/eight energy bars/many energy bars} would not be {enough/satisfying treats} to sustain the marathon runners.

  39. 39.

    Lauren thought {the batteries/nine batteries/many batteries} would not be {enough/fully charged} to power the new electronics.

  40. 40.

    Stefan realized {the pillows/five pillows/many pillows} would not be {enough/lumpy} for the sleepy campers.

  41. 41.

    Amanda believed {the colours/three colours/many colours} would not be {enough/vibrant and warm} for her to finish the painting.

  42. 42.

    Walter concluded {the bananas/eight bananas/many bananas} would not be {enough/mushy and rotten} food for the circus monkeys.

Appendix 4: Sentence Materials, Experiment 2

  1. 1.

    John assumed that the pizzas/four pizzas would be enough/baked in time to feed/the hungry students.

  2. 2.

    Ella thought that the toothbrushes/thirty toothbrushes would be enough/available for the dentists to give to their patients

  3. 3.

    Luanna believed that the shirts/ten shirts would be enough/clean for the elementary school soccer team’s big game.

  4. 4.

    Emma was sure that the ribbons/twenty ribbons would be enough/suitable to decorate the hall for the commemoration.

  5. 5.

    Kate was sure that the roses/four roses would be enough/pleasant for the Mother’s Day arrangement.

  6. 6.

    Beth was sure that the plates/fifty plates would be enough/warmed for the guests at the brunch buffet.

  7. 7.

    Victor was sure that the cars/three cars would be enough/waiting to escort the wedding party to the church.

  8. 8.

    Serena assumed that the canopies/two canopies would be enough/open to protect the guests from the harsh sun.

  9. 9.

    Peter thought that the pears/seven would be enough/ripe for the sangria he wanted to make on Tuesday.

  10. 10.

    Kira believed that the fire crackers/twelve firecrackers would be enough/impressive for the end of the party.

  11. 11.

    Mike thought that the avocados/six avocados would be more than they needed/tasty and fresh for the barbecue on Saturday.

  12. 12.

    Brittany thought that the party favours/five party favours would be more than they needed/fun and festive for the bachelorette party.

  13. 13.

    Jackie was pretty sure that the coconuts/two coconuts would be more than was required/difficult to crack open for making pina coladas.

  14. 14.

    Adrian argued that the tools/five tools would be more than they needed/useful and effective to pull off the big heist.

  15. 15.

    Nick was pretty sure that the boxes/nine boxes would be more than they needed/assembled in time to store all the papers from the trial

  16. 16.

    Jenna thought that the suitcases/two suitcases would be more than was needed/packed and ready for the weekend trip.

  17. 17.

    Zoey was certain that the cupcakes/ninety cupcakes would be more than we could sell/decorated in time at the school’s bake sale

  18. 18.

    Tess thought that the sandwiches/three sandwiches would be more than she could eat/healthy and delicious for lunch today.

  19. 19.

    Christine suspected that the tickets/five tickets would be more than they needed/available at the stadium for the baseball game on Thursday.

  20. 20.

    Quinn thought that the pies/ten pies would be more than they needed/baked in advance for the pie-eating contest.

  21. 21.

    Tania worried that the oranges/six oranges would be less than was needed/overly sour and dry for the chef to make sorbet.

  22. 22.

    Ben was pretty sure that the film rolls/five film rolls would be less than they needed/specialized for low lighting to capture the evening wedding.

  23. 23.

    Joey decided that the books/twenty books would be less than was needed/possible to purchase for the library’s collection.

  24. 24.

    Victoria thought that the apples/two apples would be less than they needed/firm and tart enough for the pie on Saturday.

  25. 25.

    Jackson thought that the candles/ten candles would be less than they needed/beautiful ambient lighting for the formal dinner table.

  26. 26.

    Lucas believed that the roast chickens/ten roast chickens would be less than they needed/seasoned with sea salt for the wedding reception.

  27. 27.

    David was pretty sure that the scarves/seven scarves would be less than we needed/donated by local knitters to help the shelter’s clients.

  28. 28.

    Henry suspected that the paintings/seven paintings would be less than they needed/provocative and modern for the new art exhibit.

  29. 29.

    Josh suspected that the songs/thirty songs would be less than we needed/upbeat and loud for a DJ set at the party.

  30. 30.

    Fred figured that the markers/three markers would be less than was needed/available in the supply closet for the students to make the poster.

  31. 31.

    Jane worried that the tacos/twenty tacos would not be enough/spicy enough for the guests at the party.

  32. 32.

    Brian worried that the carrots/eleven carrots would not be enough/fresh for the horses to eat after the competition.

  33. 33.

    Kim realized that the necklaces/three necklaces would not be enough/glamourous enough for the back-up singers’ costumes.

  34. 34.

    Sean figured that the pans/eight pans would not be enough/greased properly for the cooks to fry all the pancakes.

  35. 35.

    Oliver thought that the hotdogs/twelve hotdogs would not be enough/ready for people to eat at the barbecue.

  36. 36.

    Sophie worried that the energy bars/eight energy bars would not be enough/satisfying nourishment to sustain the marathon runners.

  37. 37.

    Lauren worried that the batteries/nine batteries would not be enough/fully charged to power the new electronics.

  38. 38.

    Stefan thought that the pillows/five pillows would not be enough/soft enough for the sleepy campers.

  39. 39.

    Amanda was sure that the colors/three colors would not be enough/vibrant enough to complete the painting of tropical fish.

  40. 40.

    Walter thought that the/eight bananas would not be enough/ripe in time to feed to the circus monkeys.

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Grant, M., Michniewicz, S., Rett, J. (2019). Real-Time Commitments in Processing Individual/Degree Polysemy. In: Carlson, K., Clifton, Jr., C., Fodor, J. (eds) Grammatical Approaches to Language Processing. Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics, vol 48. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-01563-3_6

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