Semantic/pragmatic factors affecting the salience of transfer verb arguments

Meghan Salomon, Gregory Ward


Rohde et al. (2006) showed that, for transfer verbs, the salience of the recipient argument is a function of the particular coherence relation posited by participants. Using a priming paradigm with transfer verbs and occupation-denoting NPs in isolated sentences, we find that participants are sensitive to the lexical properties of the transfer verb itself as measured by the relative salience of the associated transfer verb arguments. Alternatively, using a sentence completion paradigm – more strategic task in which participants are guided by discourse-level features – we find participants are sensitive instead to the coherence relations of the relevant event, replicating Rohde et al. (2006). Our findings support the notion that coherence relations drive the interpretation of multi-sentence discourses while sentences considered in isolation are guided by particular features of the linguistic context. 


lexical semantics; argument structure; coherence relations

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