Polysemy Advantage with Abstract But Not Concrete Words

Bernadet Jager, Alexandra A. Cleland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

It is a robust finding that ambiguous words are recognized faster than unambiguous words. More recent studies (e.g., Rodd, Gaskell, & Marslen-Wilson, 2002) now indicate that this ambiguity advantage may in reality be a polysemy advantage: caused by related senses (polysemy) rather than unrelated meanings (homonymy). We report two lexical decision studies that investigated the effects of polysemy with new word sets. In both studies, polysemy was factorially manipulated while homonymy was controlled for. In Experiment 1, where the stimulus set consisted solely of concrete nouns, there was no effect of polysemy. However, in Experiment 2, where the stimulus set consisted of a mix of abstract nouns, verbs, and adjectives, there was a significant polysemy advantage. Together, these two studies strongly suggest that polysemy affects abstract but not concrete nouns. In addition, they rule out several alternative explanations for these polysemy effects, e.g., sense dominance, age-of-acquisition, familiarity, and semantic diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Volume45
Issue number1
Early online date6 Nov 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

Fingerprint

Semantics
stimulus
experiment
semantics
Recognition (Psychology)
Polysemy

Keywords

  • polysemy
  • concreteness
  • ambiguity advantage
  • mental lexicon
  • lexical decision
  • linear mixed-effects models

Cite this

Polysemy Advantage with Abstract But Not Concrete Words. / Jager, Bernadet; Cleland, Alexandra A.

In: Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, Vol. 45, No. 1, 02.2016, p. 143-156.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{fa9ac4cb25ab47189566786bd49adaa7,
title = "Polysemy Advantage with Abstract But Not Concrete Words",
abstract = "It is a robust finding that ambiguous words are recognized faster than unambiguous words. More recent studies (e.g., Rodd, Gaskell, & Marslen-Wilson, 2002) now indicate that this ambiguity advantage may in reality be a polysemy advantage: caused by related senses (polysemy) rather than unrelated meanings (homonymy). We report two lexical decision studies that investigated the effects of polysemy with new word sets. In both studies, polysemy was factorially manipulated while homonymy was controlled for. In Experiment 1, where the stimulus set consisted solely of concrete nouns, there was no effect of polysemy. However, in Experiment 2, where the stimulus set consisted of a mix of abstract nouns, verbs, and adjectives, there was a significant polysemy advantage. Together, these two studies strongly suggest that polysemy affects abstract but not concrete nouns. In addition, they rule out several alternative explanations for these polysemy effects, e.g., sense dominance, age-of-acquisition, familiarity, and semantic diversity.",
keywords = "polysemy , concreteness, ambiguity advantage, mental lexicon, lexical decision, linear mixed-effects models",
author = "Bernadet Jager and Cleland, {Alexandra A.}",
year = "2016",
month = "2",
doi = "10.1007/s10936-014-9337-z",
language = "English",
volume = "45",
pages = "143--156",
journal = "Journal of Psycholinguistic Research",
issn = "0090-6905",
publisher = "Springer New York",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Polysemy Advantage with Abstract But Not Concrete Words

AU - Jager, Bernadet

AU - Cleland, Alexandra A.

PY - 2016/2

Y1 - 2016/2

N2 - It is a robust finding that ambiguous words are recognized faster than unambiguous words. More recent studies (e.g., Rodd, Gaskell, & Marslen-Wilson, 2002) now indicate that this ambiguity advantage may in reality be a polysemy advantage: caused by related senses (polysemy) rather than unrelated meanings (homonymy). We report two lexical decision studies that investigated the effects of polysemy with new word sets. In both studies, polysemy was factorially manipulated while homonymy was controlled for. In Experiment 1, where the stimulus set consisted solely of concrete nouns, there was no effect of polysemy. However, in Experiment 2, where the stimulus set consisted of a mix of abstract nouns, verbs, and adjectives, there was a significant polysemy advantage. Together, these two studies strongly suggest that polysemy affects abstract but not concrete nouns. In addition, they rule out several alternative explanations for these polysemy effects, e.g., sense dominance, age-of-acquisition, familiarity, and semantic diversity.

AB - It is a robust finding that ambiguous words are recognized faster than unambiguous words. More recent studies (e.g., Rodd, Gaskell, & Marslen-Wilson, 2002) now indicate that this ambiguity advantage may in reality be a polysemy advantage: caused by related senses (polysemy) rather than unrelated meanings (homonymy). We report two lexical decision studies that investigated the effects of polysemy with new word sets. In both studies, polysemy was factorially manipulated while homonymy was controlled for. In Experiment 1, where the stimulus set consisted solely of concrete nouns, there was no effect of polysemy. However, in Experiment 2, where the stimulus set consisted of a mix of abstract nouns, verbs, and adjectives, there was a significant polysemy advantage. Together, these two studies strongly suggest that polysemy affects abstract but not concrete nouns. In addition, they rule out several alternative explanations for these polysemy effects, e.g., sense dominance, age-of-acquisition, familiarity, and semantic diversity.

KW - polysemy

KW - concreteness

KW - ambiguity advantage

KW - mental lexicon

KW - lexical decision

KW - linear mixed-effects models

U2 - 10.1007/s10936-014-9337-z

DO - 10.1007/s10936-014-9337-z

M3 - Article

VL - 45

SP - 143

EP - 156

JO - Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

JF - Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

SN - 0090-6905

IS - 1

ER -