Effects of Context on Processing (non)-Compositional Expressions

Edward Holsinger, Elsi Kaiser


We report a self-paced reading experiment investigating phrasal verbs that are ambiguous between literal/non-literal interpretations (wait on {a bench, a customer}). We tested how/whether contextual biases (towards literal/non-literal interpretations) influence processing ease. Our results suggest an asymmetry in how contextual bias affects processing: When context biases the non-literal interpretation, comprehension proceeds smoothly regardless of whether the verb sequence turns out to be literal or non-literal; when context biases the literal interpretation, processing difficulties arise when the verb sequence turns out to be non-literal. We discuss the implications of our findings for existing models of non-compositional processing.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/exabs.v0i0.492