How do violations of Gricean maxims affect reading?

Kumiko Fukumura (Lead / Corresponding author), Roger P. G. van-Gompel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
124 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Four eye-tracking experiments examined how violations of the Gricean maxim of quantity affect reading. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that first-pass reading times for size-modified definite nouns (the small towel) were longer when the modifier was redundant, as the context contained one rather than two possible referents, whereas first-pass times for bare nouns (the towel) were unaffected by
whether the context contained multiple referents that resulted in ambiguity. Experiment 3 showed that unlike redundant size modifiers, redundant color modifiers did not increase first-pass times. Experiment 4 confirmed this finding, demonstrating that the effect of redundancy was dependent on the meaning of the modifier. We propose that initial referential processing is led by the lexicosemantic representation of the referring expression rather than Gricean expectations about optimal informativeness: Redundancy of a size-modifier immediately disrupts comprehension because the processor fails to activate the referential contrast implied by the meaning of the modifier, whereas referential ambiguity has no immediate effect, as it allows the activation of at least one semanticallycompatible referent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Volume95
Early online date14 Feb 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Fingerprint

Reading
experiment
redundancy
Redundancy
Experiments
Color
activation
comprehension
Chemical activation
Modifier
Gricean Maxims
Violations
Processing
time
Experiment
Referent
Referential

Keywords

  • ambiguity
  • redundancy
  • overspecification
  • Gricean maxims
  • reading
  • discourse

Cite this

@article{3e5778c781684798b44e4e19cc405ae7,
title = "How do violations of Gricean maxims affect reading?",
abstract = "Four eye-tracking experiments examined how violations of the Gricean maxim of quantity affect reading. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that first-pass reading times for size-modified definite nouns (the small towel) were longer when the modifier was redundant, as the context contained one rather than two possible referents, whereas first-pass times for bare nouns (the towel) were unaffected bywhether the context contained multiple referents that resulted in ambiguity. Experiment 3 showed that unlike redundant size modifiers, redundant color modifiers did not increase first-pass times. Experiment 4 confirmed this finding, demonstrating that the effect of redundancy was dependent on the meaning of the modifier. We propose that initial referential processing is led by the lexicosemantic representation of the referring expression rather than Gricean expectations about optimal informativeness: Redundancy of a size-modifier immediately disrupts comprehension because the processor fails to activate the referential contrast implied by the meaning of the modifier, whereas referential ambiguity has no immediate effect, as it allows the activation of at least one semanticallycompatible referent.",
keywords = "ambiguity, redundancy, overspecification, Gricean maxims, reading, discourse",
author = "Kumiko Fukumura and van-Gompel, {Roger P. G.}",
note = "Kumiko Fukumura acknowledges support from Experimental Psychology Society Grant 2015 and Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant RPG-2016-253.",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1016/j.jml.2017.01.008",
language = "English",
volume = "95",
pages = "1--18",
journal = "Journal of Memory and Language",
issn = "0749-596X",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

How do violations of Gricean maxims affect reading? / Fukumura, Kumiko (Lead / Corresponding author); van-Gompel, Roger P. G.

In: Journal of Memory and Language, Vol. 95, 2017, p. 1-18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - How do violations of Gricean maxims affect reading?

AU - Fukumura, Kumiko

AU - van-Gompel, Roger P. G.

N1 - Kumiko Fukumura acknowledges support from Experimental Psychology Society Grant 2015 and Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant RPG-2016-253.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Four eye-tracking experiments examined how violations of the Gricean maxim of quantity affect reading. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that first-pass reading times for size-modified definite nouns (the small towel) were longer when the modifier was redundant, as the context contained one rather than two possible referents, whereas first-pass times for bare nouns (the towel) were unaffected bywhether the context contained multiple referents that resulted in ambiguity. Experiment 3 showed that unlike redundant size modifiers, redundant color modifiers did not increase first-pass times. Experiment 4 confirmed this finding, demonstrating that the effect of redundancy was dependent on the meaning of the modifier. We propose that initial referential processing is led by the lexicosemantic representation of the referring expression rather than Gricean expectations about optimal informativeness: Redundancy of a size-modifier immediately disrupts comprehension because the processor fails to activate the referential contrast implied by the meaning of the modifier, whereas referential ambiguity has no immediate effect, as it allows the activation of at least one semanticallycompatible referent.

AB - Four eye-tracking experiments examined how violations of the Gricean maxim of quantity affect reading. Experiments 1 and 2 showed that first-pass reading times for size-modified definite nouns (the small towel) were longer when the modifier was redundant, as the context contained one rather than two possible referents, whereas first-pass times for bare nouns (the towel) were unaffected bywhether the context contained multiple referents that resulted in ambiguity. Experiment 3 showed that unlike redundant size modifiers, redundant color modifiers did not increase first-pass times. Experiment 4 confirmed this finding, demonstrating that the effect of redundancy was dependent on the meaning of the modifier. We propose that initial referential processing is led by the lexicosemantic representation of the referring expression rather than Gricean expectations about optimal informativeness: Redundancy of a size-modifier immediately disrupts comprehension because the processor fails to activate the referential contrast implied by the meaning of the modifier, whereas referential ambiguity has no immediate effect, as it allows the activation of at least one semanticallycompatible referent.

KW - ambiguity

KW - redundancy

KW - overspecification

KW - Gricean maxims

KW - reading

KW - discourse

U2 - 10.1016/j.jml.2017.01.008

DO - 10.1016/j.jml.2017.01.008

M3 - Article

VL - 95

SP - 1

EP - 18

JO - Journal of Memory and Language

JF - Journal of Memory and Language

SN - 0749-596X

ER -