Exhaustive semantic activation for reading ambiguous verbs in Chinese sentences

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Abstract Studies of lexical ambiguity resolution in sentential contexts have not sufficiently considered the relatedness among an ambiguous word’s meanings as a predicting factor for semantic activation. To better understand the relation between lexical access and discourse processing and the effect of semantic relatedness on lexical ambiguity resolution, a cross-modal lexical priming experiment focusing on Mandarin ambiguous verbs of varying degrees of semantic relatedness was conducted. The results indicated that both meanings of an ambiguous verb were activated regardless of contextual biases and the degrees of semantic relatedness between the associated meanings. Taken together with previous research, the present study suggests that the meanings of an ambiguous word (i.e., homophonic homographs, which share both phonological and orthographic representations) are co-activated exhaustively if they are syntactically licensed by the context. These results thus support the exhaustive semantic activation model of lexical ambiguity resolution and the syntax-first theory of sentence processing.




Lingua Sinica. 2015 Nov 06;1(1):7