Publication
Title
Once again on norms and comparison classes
Author
Abstract
A central assumption about relative adjectives (e.g., big, old) is that their positive form is interpreted vis-à-vis a class-specific reference point located in the midzone of a series (norm). More recently, functional-cognitive studies argued that other reference points (e.g., argumentative zero, endpoints) are more relevant in actual language use than a norm. This paper argues that the two positions are not necessarily irreconcilable and experimentally tests a hypothesis that a norm is a default reference point used for the interpretation of relative adjectives in zero contexts. Experiment 1 addressed the location of a norm in the midzone of a series and its category dependence. As predicted by the traditional semantic studies, the cutoff point between big and small is located around the midpoint of a scale. Furthermore, its location is category-dependentand sensitive to prototypicality effects. The results further indicate that adults easily compute a contextually relevant norm by integrating their world knowledge with the visually provided information. Experiment 2 investigated the relevance of a norm in the online processing of relative adjectives. The results suggest that language users indeed exploit norms for the interpretation of relative adjectives in real time.
Language
English
Source (journal)
Linguistics : an interdisciplinary journal of the language sciences. - The Hague, 1963, currens
Publication
The Hague : 2011
ISSN
0024-3949 [print]
1613-396X [online]
Volume/pages
49:3(2011), p. 525-553
ISI
000292688100002
Full text (Publishers DOI)
UAntwerpen
Faculty/Department
Research group
Publication type
Subject
Affiliation
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Record
Identification
Creation 01.09.2011
Last edited 26.05.2017
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