Intra-sentential context effects on the interpretation of logical metonymy

Mirella Lapata, Frank Keller, Christoph Scheepers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Verbs such as enjoy in the student enjoyed the book exhibit logical metonymy: enjoy is interpreted as enjoy reading. Theoretical work [Computational Linguistics 17 (4) (1991) 409; The Generative Lexicon, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995] predicts that this interpretation can be influenced by intra-sentential context, e.g., by the subject of enjoy. In this article, we test this prediction using a completion experiment and find that the interpretation of a metonymic verb is influenced by the semantic role of its subject. We present a Bayesian model that accounts for the interpretation of logical metonymy and achieves a good fit on our experimental data. We show that the parameters of the model can be estimated from completion data or from corpus data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-668
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2003


  • Logical metonymy
  • Coercion
  • Generative lexicon
  • Context
  • Sentence completion
  • Bayesian modeling
  • Corpus-based modeling


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