Interpreting conjunctions

Lewis Bott, Steven Frisson, Gregory L. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The interpretation generated from a sentence of the form P and Q can often be different to that generated by Q and P, despite the fact that and has a symmetric truth-conditional meaning. We experimentally investigated to what extent this difference in meaning is due to the connective and and to what extent it is due to order of mention of the events in the sentence. In three experiments, we collected interpretations of sentences in which we varied the presence of the conjunction, the order of mention of the events, and the type of relation holding between the events (temporally vs. causally related events). The results indicated that the effect of using a conjunction was dependent on the discourse relation between the events. Our findings contradict a narrative marker theory of and, but provide partial support for a single-unit theory derived from Carston (2002). The results are discussed in terms of conjunction processing and implicatures of temporal order.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-706
Number of pages26
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume62
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 8 2009

Keywords

  • Discourse
  • Implicature
  • Inference
  • Pragmatics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Physiology (medical)

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