Phantom readings: the case of modified numerals. Marty, P.; Chemla, E.; and Spector, B. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 30(4):462-477, 2015.
Phantom readings: the case of modified numerals [pdf]Paper  abstract   bibtex   1 download  
We investigate the mechanisms proposed in formal semantics to account for the ambiguity generated by simple numerical expressions (e.g., 'three students'). We explain how these mechanisms, when ap- plied to more complex numerical expressions such as 'between n and m' (e.g., 'between three and five students'), predict a surprising ambiguity between a doubly-bounded (e.g., 'at least three and at most five students') and a lower-bounded reading (e.g., 'at least three students'). While the lower-bounded reading is not detectable intuitively, results from three offline experiments and a response time study provide evidence in favor of its existence. Our contribution is twofold. On the experimental side, we present two psycholinguistic methods powerful enough to detect what we call phantom readings, i.e. readings that do not seem to have consequences for actual interpretation, but have detectable effects on processing. On the theoretical side, we show that certain semantic mechanisms that might be thought to overgenerate are in fact vindicated, since they are able to predict certain processing facts that would otherwise remain mysterious. We discuss how these results illustrate the need for a strong integration of formal semantics and psycholinguistic approaches.
@article{Marty-PhantomBetween,
	abstract = {We investigate the mechanisms proposed in formal semantics to account for the ambiguity generated by simple numerical expressions (e.g., 'three students'). We explain how these mechanisms, when ap- plied to more complex numerical expressions such as 'between n and m' (e.g., 'between three and five students'), predict a surprising ambiguity between a doubly-bounded (e.g., 'at least three and at most five students') and a lower-bounded reading (e.g., 'at least three students'). While the lower-bounded reading is not detectable intuitively, results from three offline experiments and a response time study provide evidence in favor of its existence. Our contribution is twofold. On the experimental side, we present two psycholinguistic methods powerful enough to detect what we call phantom readings, i.e. readings that do not seem to have consequences for actual interpretation, but have detectable effects on processing. On the theoretical side, we show that certain semantic mechanisms that might be thought to overgenerate are in fact vindicated, since they are able to predict certain processing facts that would otherwise remain mysterious. We discuss how these results illustrate the need for a strong integration of formal semantics and psycholinguistic approaches.},
	author = {Paul Marty and Emmanuel Chemla and Benjamin Spector},
	date-added = {2014-06-03 08:22:20 +0000},
	date-modified = {2017-02-23 22:46:39 +0000},
	journal = {Language, Cognition and Neuroscience},
	number = {4},
	pages = {462-477},
	title = {Phantom readings: the case of modified numerals},
	url = {http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/jE2YjE1Z/PhantomReadingsMartyChemlaSpector.pdf},
	volume = {30},
	year = {2015},
	Bdsk-Url-1 = {http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/jE2YjE1Z/PhantomReadingsMartyChemlaSpector.pdf}}
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