"Maybe" not all scalar implicatures are created equal

Stephen Politzer-Ahles


Most previous neurolinguistic experiments on scalar implicature have focused on the <some,all> scale. We examined the processing of the <maybe,definitely> scale using EEG and MEG. Participants read the word "maybe" in correct contexts, semantically incorrect contexts (where only "definitely not" would have been true), and pragmatically infelicitous contexts (where "definitely" was true). Both violations elicited N400 effects, the effects differed in a late time window (suggesting that the brain was sensitive to different types of meaning, semantic and pragmatic). These findings do not replicate EEG findings on <some,all>, suggesting that different types of scalar inferences may be processed differently.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/exabs.v0i0.2990