Logical Metonymy Resolution in a Words-as-Cues Framework: Evidence From Self-Paced Reading and Probe Recognition

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Abstract

Logical metonymy resolution (begin a bookbegin reading a book or begin writing a book) has traditionally been explained either through complex lexical entries (qualia structures) or through the integration of the implicit event via post-lexical access to world knowledge. We propose that recent work within the words-as-cues paradigm can provide a more dynamic model of logical metonymy, accounting for early and dynamic integration of complex event information depending on previous contextual cues (agent and patient). We first present a self-paced reading experiment on German subordinate sentences, where metonymic sentences and their paraphrased version differ only in the presence or absence of the clause-final target verb (Der Konditor begann die GlasurDer Konditor begann, die Glasur aufzutragen/The baker began the icingThe baker began spreading the icing). Longer reading times at the target verb position in a high-typicality condition (baker + icing spread ) compared to a low-typicality (but still plausible) condition (child + icing spread) suggest that we make use of knowledge activated by lexical cues to build expectations about events. The early and dynamic integration of event knowledge in metonymy interpretation is bolstered by further evidence from a second experiment using the probe recognition paradigm. Presenting covert events as probes following a high-typicality or a low-typicality metonymic sentence (Der Konditor begann die Glasur AUFTRAGEN/The baker began the icingSPREAD), we obtain an analogous effect of typicality at 100 ms interstimulus interval.

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