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Pragmatics and implicature processing

Language and Psycholinguistics


BCS 152 / LIN 217 / ASL 260 / PSY 152

October 12, 2011

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Pragmatics

Cooperative dialogue and conversational maxims

Scalar implicatures

Common ground

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Levels of linguistic processing

phonology morphology syntax: sentence structure semantics: sentence meaning (propositions) pragmatics:
utterance meaning language in context interaction of sentence meaning, speaker intentions, discourse context, common ground, world knowledge

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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(1) Al: What time is it? Trixie: Some of the guests are already leaving. Its late.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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(1) Al: What time is it? Trixie: Some of the guests are already leaving. Its late. (2) Al: Is the party fun? Trixie: Some of the guests are already leaving. The party is boring.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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(1) Al: What time is it? Trixie: Some of the guests are already leaving. Its late. (2) Al: Is the party fun? Trixie: Some of the guests are already leaving. The party is boring. How do we infer what speakers mean when they produce an utterance?

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Speaker-dependent meaning of utterances

example: yes, no, perhaps

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Speaker-dependent meaning of utterances

example: yes, no, perhaps Attributed to Voltaire (in Spanish): When a diplomat says yes, he means perhaps; when he says perhaps, he means no; when he says no, he is not a diplomat. When a lady says no, she means perhaps; when she says perhaps, she means yes; when she says yes, she is not a lady.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Context-dependent meaning of utterances

(3) John: Do you want to go skiing? Mary: Its snowing! a. No. (because Mary only skis when its sunny) b. Yes. (because the snow is better and there are less people on the slopes)

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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How do we infer what the speaker meant?


Grice (1967): sentence meaning (what is said) vs. speaker meaning (what is meant) speaker meaning consists of conversational implicatures in addition to sentence meaning NB: an implicature is not to be confused with an implication! implicatures are defeasible, implications are not. Compare: (4) a. John: Do you want to go skiing? Mary: Its snowing ( no). . . but I didnt mean to say that I dont want to go skiing. In fact, I love skiing when it snows. ne b. John: Theres a red cube on the table ( there is a cube on the table). . . but there is no cube on the table. strange
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Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Factors that determine which implicatures arise

Who is the speaker? When and where did the utterance occur? What are the speakers intentions? (What does he intend to achieve by saying what he does?) What are the speakers and hearers beliefs? What is in the common ground (shared beliefs)? What is the focus of the conversation or the question under discussion (QUD)?

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

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When Harry met Sally. . .

(Loading movie...)

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How do we infer what the speaker meant?

(5) Jess: When someones not that attractive theyre ALWAYS described as having a good personality. Harry: Look, if you were to ask me what does she look like and I said she has a good personality, that means shes not attractive. But just because I happen to mention that she has a good personality, she could be either. Jess assumes Harry is implicating that Sally isnt attractive Harry makes reference to the QUD to explain away the potential implicature the QUD sets the level of informativeness expected of the speaker

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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How do we compute implicatures?

assumption that interlocutors are


rational cooperative

The Cooperative Principle (Grice) Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

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The conversational maxims: Quality

Try to make your contribution one that is true. Truthfulness Do not say what you believe to be false. Evidencedness Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

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The conversational maxims: Quantity and Relation

Quantity-1 Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange). Quantity-2 Do not make your contribution more informative than is required. Relation Be relevant.

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Pragmatics and implicature processing

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The conversational maxims: Manner


Be perspicuous. Obscurity avoidance Avoid obscurity of expression. Ambiguity avoidance Avoid ambiguity. Brevity Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity). Orderliness Be orderly.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

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Deriving implicatures - an example

(6)

a. Mary met the love of her life and got married.

(7)

a. Mary got married and met the love of her life.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Deriving implicatures - an example

(6)

a. Mary met the love of her life and got married. b. Mary met the love of her life and then got married to that person. a. Mary got married and met the love of her life. b. Mary got married and then met the love of her life (another person).

(7)

A and B is equivalent to B and A - so why the temporal implicature? hearer infers that speaker is following Orderliness and thus is recounting events in the order they occurred

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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A note on the status of the conversational maxims

what they are not:


moral prescriptions on how to communicate descriptive generalizations about speech

what they are:


presumptions about ones interlocutor that can be used in comprehension and production

in comprehension: presumption that the speaker is being cooperative and speaking truthfully, informatively, relevantly and otherwise in an appropriate way in production: when we are planning an utterance that will make our communicative intentions evident, we exploit the fact that our listeners presume these things

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

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Disrespecting the maxims - Bronston vs. United States

(8)

a. Lawyer: Have you ever had any bank accounts in Swiss banks? Bronston: The company did.

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Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Disrespecting the maxims - Bronston vs. United States

(8)

a. Lawyer: Have you ever had any bank accounts in Swiss banks? Bronston: The company did. b. Bronston didnt have bank accounts in Switzerland.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Disrespecting the maxims - Bronston vs. United States

(8)

a. Lawyer: Have you ever had any bank accounts in Swiss banks? Bronston: The company did. b. Bronston didnt have bank accounts in Switzerland.

if it is a case of outing (deliberately breaking a conversational maxim while still being cooperative):

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Disrespecting the maxims - Bronston vs. United States

(8)

a. Lawyer: Have you ever had any bank accounts in Swiss banks? Bronston: The company did. b. Bronston didnt have bank accounts in Switzerland.

if it is a case of outing (deliberately breaking a conversational maxim while still being cooperative):
Bronston is following Quality he is outing Quantity-1 (being uninformative by not answering the question directly). . . . . .in favor of Relation

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Disrespecting the maxims - Bronston vs. United States

(8)

a. Lawyer: Have you ever had any bank accounts in Swiss banks? Bronston: The company did. b. Bronston didnt have bank accounts in Switzerland.

if it is a case of outing (deliberately breaking a conversational maxim while still being cooperative):
Bronston is following Quality he is outing Quantity-1 (being uninformative by not answering the question directly). . . . . .in favor of Relation

else it is a case of maxim violation (resulting in non-cooperative dialogue)

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Scalar implicatures
(9) Mary: Who has John dated? Sarah: He dated some of the girls on his swim team. He dated some, but not all of the girls on his swim team. (10) Mary: Who went to the party? Sarah: John or Peter did. Either John or Peter, but not both, went to the party. generalization: use of a statement with a weak element (on a scale of a strong and a weak element) implicates the negation of the stronger statement scales:
lexical items ordered according to informativeness (strong items rst) all, some and, or
Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152) Pragmatics and implicature processing October 12, 2011 18 / 36

Hearers reasoning

He dated some of the girls on his swim team. Sarah uttered the statement with some instead of all, which would have been relevant (in compliance with Relation) and more informative (outing of Quantity-1) if Sarah knew that John dated all of the girls on his swim team, she would have said so Sarah is well-informed and complies with Quality (i.e. she is honest) thus, it is not the case that John dated all of the girls on his swim team

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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The nature of scales

dierent kinds of scales:


lexicalized, basically context-independent: all, some , and, or not lexicalized, context-dependent: past Santos, past Santorini On a boat tour of some Greek islands: Mary: Where are you? John: Im past Santos. John is past Santos, but not past Santorini. lexicalized, but context-dependent: beautiful, attractive

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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When Harry met Sally. . .

(Loading movie...)

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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When Harry met Sally. . .

(11) Harry: She could be attractive with a good personality, or not attractive with a good personality. Jess: So which one is she? Harry: Attractive. Jess: But not beautiful, right? accounting for Jesss inference:
scale: beautiful, attractive is attractive is not beautiful note: speaker must intend for his intention to be recognized, otherwise the implicature does not arise

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

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The time course of scalar implicatures

evidence for incremental processing and rapid integration of available information from many other domains (e.g. word recognition, syntactic parsing) does this apply to implicature processing, too? is pragmatic information integrated online, in parallel with information from other levels of linguistic processing, or only after the syntax and semantics of the sentence is computed? early studies nd delayed implicatures (Bott & Noveck 2004, Huang & Snedeker 2009) new evidence for rapid integration: visual world study by Grodner et al 2010 testing the implicature of some to some, but not all

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

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October 12, 2011

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Grodner et al - scalar implicature processing

Click on the girl who has some of the balls/all of the balloons. semantic interpretation of some (some and possibly all) does not disambiguate pragmatic interpretation of some (some but not all) does all disambiguates (literal control)

(A)

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Grodner et al - scalar implicature processing

(A)

looks to target increase 200-300ms after quantier onset (both for some and all) rapid computation of the implicature
(B) Figure 1: The displays for (A) the Early-Summa, Alla, and Nunna conditions, and (B) the Late-Summa condition

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

October 12, 2011

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Common ground

essential hearer assumption for deriving scalar implicatures: the speaker knows about whether the stronger statement holds more generally: Gricean reasoning requires taking into account our interlocutors belief state (and vice versa) as well as common ground (shared beliefs) . . .but are we really this sensitive to our interlocutors perspective?

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

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Common vs. privileged ground

Common ground: information (direct and inferred propositions and beliefs) assumed by an interlocutor to be shared by the other interlocutor Privileged ground: information that is assumed to be unavailable to the other interlocutor

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

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Is language processing egocentric?

if comprehenders treat privileged ground dierently from common ground comprehenders take into consideration the state of their interlocutor language processing would not be egocentric early experiments suggested that listeners are egocentric, but these studies had methodological problems (Keysar et al., 2000, 2002) later experiments provided evidence for non-egocentricity (Hanna et al 2002, 2003; Brown-Schmidt & Tanenhaus 2008, Heller et al 2008)

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The general framework: Sedivy et al 1999


reference resolution via pragmatic inference (Quantity-2 maxim) size contrast between only one pair of objects makes pre-nominal modication felicitous for that pair (over-informative otherwise) if were aware of the contrast in the display, we should expect pre-nominal modication only for the objects of the contrast pair

Pick up the small basket.

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One contrast: Point of disambiguation (POD)

Pick up the big duck.

recognition of object already during processing of adjective ( big ) pragmatic inference due to contrast immediately integrated

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

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One vs. two contrasts: Heller et al. 2008

prediction: recognition should be delayed until noun because adjective does not carry sucient information to disambiguate

Pick up the small pot.

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

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Two contrasts: Point of disambiguation (POD)

Pick up the big duck.

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One vs. two contrasts


early eect of adjective due to pragmatic inference about adjective choice in one-contrast condition

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

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Heller et al. 2008: privileged vs. common ground


Put the big duck on the bottom.

same as just discussed

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Heller et al. 2008: privileged vs. common ground


Put the big duck on the bottom.

same as just discussed egocentric and non-egocentric view make same predictions egocentric view predicts late POD non-egocentric view predicts early POD

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

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Result: xations on target


comprehenders consider what the speaker knows

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Summary

knowledge of conversational maxims guides comprehenders interpretations of speaker meaning pragmatic information is processed incrementally language processing is non-egocentric: we keep track of the common ground

Language and Psycholinguistics (BCS 152)

Pragmatics and implicature processing

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