Contextual non-plural interpretations of 'some': Mouse-tracking evidence for quick social reasoning in real time

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Loy et al. (2019) showed that listeners are more likely to make an early commitment to the semantically-allowed meaning of ‘some’ as ‘all’ if it follows disfluent ‘uh’ in a context where larger values are socially undesirable (I ate, uh, some biscuits). Here, we varied the context to one where smaller values are socially undesirable interpretations of ‘some’. In two experiments, we recorded participants’ mouse movements in a web-based task as they heard fluent and disfluent utterances in a job interview context (I have, uh, some qualifications) and clicked on one of four images corresponding to specific interpretations of ‘some’. Here, disfluency has the opposite effect, reducing the value participants associate with 'some': We found that participants are more likely to select images corresponding to one, or zero, qualifications, following disfluent utterances. However, their mouse movements show they are quick to commit to one qualification (experiment 1) and slow to commit to zero (experiment 2). This suggests that social context and manner of speech can combine to affect the interpretation of ‘some’ as an utterance unfolds. Extending its meaning to ‘one’ is relatively easy, but overwriting it with ‘zero’ (in effect, deciding that a speaker is lying) is more demanding.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventAMLaP 2023: Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing 2023 - Kursaal, Donostia–San Sebastián, Spain
Duration: 31 Aug 20232 Sept 2023


ConferenceAMLaP 2023
CityDonostia–San Sebastián
Internet address


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