Events – List View

Events – List View 2016-05-10T15:15:33+00:00
May 30, 2018
  • Ming Xiang (UChicago) "On the Processing Complexity of Negation" - Experimental Syntax & Semantics Lab talk
    May 30, 2018 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
    8th floor seminar room

    egative sentences are often reported to be more difficult to comprehend than their positive counterparts. Traditional findings from sentence-picture verification tasks have often suggested that negation is more complex because it involves an additional stage of operation compared to their affirmative counterparts (e.g. Carpenter and Just 1975; Clark and Chase 1972). Pragmatics-based accounts of negation comprehension, however, argue that negation is only pragmatically felicitous if it is used to deny or contradict a positive proposition that is made salient or “expected” in some way (e.g. Wason, 1965), and when negation is “pragmatically licensed”, the processing complexity associated with them may disappear (Nieuwland and Kuperberg, 2008). This is consistent with some earlier proposals that suggest negation presupposes its affirmative counterparts (Baldwin, 1928; Givón 1979; Horn 1989). Based on the second account, one would predict that the processing difficulty of negation is a function of the degree of expectedness of the affirmative proposition. This effect was reported in Nordmeyer and Frank (2014). In this talk, I will report a set of studies, including both successful and failed replications of N&F's findings, as well as extensions of the original study. I will argue that expectation per se, is not the source of negation processing difficulty. An alternative QUD-based account will be explored.

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