'Ditropically' ambiguous sentences (each having both a literal and an idiomatic interpretation) were prepared for listener's discrimination judgments, and for silent readers' rankings on an 'idiomaticity' scale. Listeners were unable to discriminate the literal from the idiomatic versions when presented with randomized single sentences excised from paragraph contexts. There was a bias toward interpreting the sentences as idioms, which correlated with the rankings of each sentence for its likelihood of idiomatic use. Listeners were easily able to identify the literal and the idiomatic versions of the same ditropic sentences presented in pairs or singularly, when speakers sought purposively to convey the contrasting meanings.
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