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The case of scalar implicature processing : an eye- tracking study
Greta Mazzaggio, Anne Colette Reboul, Chiara Caretta, Mélody Darblade, Jean-Baptiste van der Henst, Anne Cheylus, Penka Stateva, 2019, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: Implicatures like ‘Some politicians are smart’ (interpreted as ‘Some but not all politicians are smart’) are defined scalar implicatures. A heated linguistic debate has focused on how we derive those implicatures: some authors consider the computational process as linguistic in nature (Levinson, 2000), others as pragmatic in nature (Sperber & Wilson, 1995). A growing body of research, prompted by pioneering work by Bott and Noveck (2004), focused on the computational cost related with the computation of scalar implicatures. The present study addresses such topic through the use of different experimental techniques. With Experiment 1 (N = 57) we replicated the third experiment of Bott and Noveck (2004), the first study that identified a cost related to a pragmatic response. With Experiment 2 (N = 58), using a pseudo-word paradigm, we excluded the possibility that the computational cost is due to an experimental artifact, such as an increased difficulty in moving up in the conceptual hierarchy (e.g., ‘Some elephants are mammals’) than in moving down (e.g. ‘Some mammals are elephants’). In Experiment 3 (N = 54), with a Sentence Evaluation Task, we collected reading times, reaction times and eye gaze data. Results showed that the cost of the computation disappears when there is contextual support. Overall, our results seem to support the idea that scalar implicatures are not automatically computed with context playing an important role.
Keywords: scalar implicatures, eye-tracking, experimental pragmatics, reaction times
Published in RUNG: 22.09.2021; Views: 1322; Downloads: 6
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La comprensione dell'ironia in bambini con disturbi dello spettro autistico
Greta Mazzaggio, Francesca Panzeri, Beatrice Giustolisi, Luca Surian, 2018, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: Comprendere l’ironia è un compito complesso che i bambini a sviluppo tipico compiono a partire dai sei anni. Diversi studi hanno evidenziato il ruolo della Teoria della Mente (ToM) e delle abilità linguistiche nella comprensione dell’ironia. Gli individui con Disturbi dello Spettro Autistico ad alto funzionamento (AAF) sono caratterizzati da abilità linguistiche intatte ma deficit nella ToM e nella pragmatica, a volte compensati mediante strategie linguistiche. Obiettivo del nostro studio è indagare la comprensione dell’ironia (sia critiche che complimenti) in questa popolazione, al fine di individuare i fattori che la facilitano. I partecipanti sono 26 bambini con AAF (età media = 7,2) e 26 bambini a sviluppo tipico (ST) di pari età (p = .98), testati per QI non verbale, abilità linguistiche (sintassi e lessico), e ToM. Per la comprensione dell’ironia abbiamo creato un compito composto da 10 brevi storie che si concludono con un commento letterale (4, controllo) o ironico (3 complimenti e 3 critiche), a cui seguivano tre domande che richiedevano il riconoscimento del significato inteso, dell’atteggiamento del parlante, e del contesto (come controllo). Entrambi i gruppi non hanno dimostrato difficoltà nel comprendere le storie letterali (AAF: 99%; ST: 99.5%). Attraverso un’analisi di regressione logistica abbiamo riscontrato una maggiore accuratezza di risposte per entrambe le tipologie di ironia (complimento e critica) nel gruppo a ST rispetto al gruppo di AAF (β = 8.25, SE = 2.52, z = 3.27, p = .001). In entrambi i gruppi l’accuratezza è stata maggiore per le critiche ironiche rispetto ai complimenti ironici (β = 0.90, SE = 0.32, z = 2.83, p = .005). L’analisi di correlazione di Pearson ha individuato come nel gruppo di AAF solo la ToM correli con la comprensione dell’ ironia (p < .001) mentre nel gruppo di bambini a ST, invece, al netto del fattore età solo le abilità sintattiche correlano (p = .03). Nel gruppo di AAF si evidenzia una netta distribuzione bimodale nelle risposte alle storie ironiche: la maggioranza dei bambini (16) ha dimostrato enormi difficoltà (accuratezza < 25%) mentre alcuni bambini (6) hanno dimostrato piena comprensione. I bambini AAF mostrano un pattern atipico rispetto ai controlli a ST. Per spiegare questi dati ipotizziamo che i bambini con AAF con basse abilità di ToM, nella comprensione dell’ironia corrispondano al profilo degli individui AAF con deficit pragmatici e meta-rappresentazionali; i bambini con AAF che hanno una perfetta comprensione dell’ironia e alte abilità di ToM potrebbero utilizzare una strategia compensatoria, forse a seguito di una riabilitazione. Future ricerche di tipo
Keywords: irony, autism spectrum disorder, experimental pragmatics, theory of mind
Published in RUNG: 22.09.2021; Views: 1462; Downloads: 73
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What's behind some (but not all) implicatures
Francesca Foppolo, Greta Mazzaggio, Francesca Panzeri, Luca Surian, 2018, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: Several studies investigated children’s derivation of pragmatic inferences by testing different items in different languages, populations and tasks (Skordos & Papafragou, 2016). In general, pre-schoolers have difficulties in the computation of the scalar implicature (SI) related to some, while a better performance has been documented in the case of non scalar or ad hoc implicatures (AIs), even in younger kids (Horowitz, Schneider and Frank, 2017; Katsos & Bishop, 2011; Stiller, Goodman & Frank, 2015). Children’s difficulty has been accounted for by different hypotheses: children are more tolerant of pragmatic violations than adults ('tolerance account', Katsos & Bishop, 2011); children do not (always) recognize what is conversationally relevant ('relevance account', Skordos & Papafragou, 2016); children have difficulties in lexicalizing the scale and/or retrieving the lexical alternatives ('lexicalist account', Barner et al., 2011; Foppolo et al., 2012; Tieu et al., 2015). Yet, the source and nature of children’s difficulty is still unknown, as well as the interplay of different factors and their impact on different inference types.Different theoretical accounts make different predictions for SIs and AIs. In principle, no difference is expected between implicature types within a pragmatic approach (like the tolerance or the relevance accounts), provided that children’s non adult-like behavior relies in a principle of pragmatic tolerance or in a failure in accessing or recognizing relevant alternatives, that would equally affect all kinds of implicature. Under lexicalist approaches, on the other hand, a difference between AIs and SIs is expected: while in the case of AIs the alternatives depend solely on context, in SIs the set of alternatives is a feature of the language that relies on the lexical representation of scales. The crucial difference is in the access to the alternatives, which depends on a linguistic representation and a lexical retrieval mechanism in the case of scalar quantifiers, while it is purely contextually determined in the case of ad hoc scales. In our study, we compared AIs and SIs by means of a Picture Selection Task modelled after Surian & Job (1987) and Stiller, Goodman & Frank (2015). Participants had to find the target (among 4 pictures) by following instructions. The tasks included 4 implicatures of each type, interspersed with control sentences. To understand the developmental factors beyond children’s performance, children were also administered tests of cognitive and linguistic development (Raven’s Progressive Matrices; BVL for lexicon and morphosyntax; the first four tasks of Wellman & Liu 2004 to test for Theory of Mind, ToM: Diverse Desires-Diverse Beliefs-Knowledge Access-Content False Belief). We tested 141 children aged 3 to 9 (75 in kindergarten: 3;10-6;0, M = 61 months; 66 in primary school: 6;10-9;2, M=90 months). Our findings add an additional piece to the understanding of children’s failure and success with scalar inferencing. In particular, we show that younger children succeed with AIs but have difficulties with SIs. We also found a significant role of linguistic (i.e., morpho-syntactic) abilities for both type of implicatures and a contribution of ToM: KA predicts implicatures derivation, and DB seems to play a role in SIs.The overall picture is rather puzzling: focusing on pre-schoolers, their ability to derive both types of implicatures seems to depend on common mechanisms, such as morpho-syntactic skills and the ability to recognize that another person can know something only if she has access to relevant information. Nevertheless, by controlling for task effects, we confirmed that SIs are harder than AIs. This finding is not easily explained within a pragmatic approach: if children were, in general, more logical or more tolerant than adults, they would be equally so with any kind of implicature; at the same time, if they were not sensitive to informativeness or unable to recognize relevance, they would fail with all pragmatic inferences. A lexical account instead predicts that, beyond general mechanisms common to SIs and AIs, the derivation of SIs requires one further step, that takes time to be acquired or automatized, namely: the lexicalization of the relevant scales. This might be the real source of the observed difference between these types of inferences, although further research is needed to fully capture its impact on children’s performance.
Keywords: scalar implicatures, adhoc implicatures, typically developing children, experimental pragmatics
Published in RUNG: 21.09.2021; Views: 1367; Downloads: 51
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Reading between the lines : conversational implicature processing in typical and atypical populations
Greta Mazzaggio, 2018, doctoral dissertation

Abstract: This thesis' aim is to add some pieces to the complex puzzle on the mechanism behind the comprehension of conversational implicatures. To do so, in a series of experiment we manipulated both the type of implicatures (scalar vs. ad-hoc) and the population under investigation (typical vs. atypical; children vs. adults).
Keywords: scalar implicatures, experimental pragmatics, autism developmental disorder, bilingualism, typically developing children, theory of mind, dissertations
Published in RUNG: 20.09.2021; Views: 1613; Downloads: 0
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A diminished propensityto compute scalar implicaturesis linked to autistic traits
Greta Mazzaggio, Luca Surian, 2018, original scientific article

Abstract: We investigated whether there is an association between autistic traits in the broader pheno- type and the ability to compute scalar implicatures. Previous studies found that the frequency of autistic traits is higher in students of science than of humanities. Here we recorded the frequency of rejection of underinformative scalar items in students enrolled either in a science or in a humanities curriculum and assessed their autistic traits using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient questionnaire. We found that rejec- tions were less frequent in science curricula students than in humanities curricula students. Moreover, rejections were associated negatively with autistic traits and positively with performance on Theory- of-Mind tasks. These findings suggest that autism cognitive phenotype is negatively associated with a propensity to spontaneously derive scalar implicatures.
Keywords: scalar implicatures, quantifiers, Autism-spectrum Quotient, pragmatics, theory of mind
Published in RUNG: 17.09.2021; Views: 1357; Downloads: 0
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Scalar and ad-hoc pragmatic inferences in children: guess which one is easier
Francesca Foppolo, Greta Mazzaggio, Francesca Panzeri, Luca Surian, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: Several studies investigated preschoolers’ ability to compute scalar and ad-hoc implicatures, but only one compared children’s performance with both kinds of implicature with the same task, a picture selection task. In Experiment 1 (N = 58, age: 4;2-6;0), we first show that the truth value judgment task, traditionally employed to investigate children’s pragmatic ability, prompts a rate of pragmatic responses comparable to the picture selection task. In Experiment 2 (N = 141, age: 3;8-9;2) we used the picture selection task to compare scalar and ad-hoc implicatures and linked the ability to derive these implicatures to some cognitive and linguistic measures. We found that four- and five-year-olds children performed better on ad-hoc than on scalar implicatures. Furthermore, we found that morphosyntactic competence was associated with success in both kinds of implicatures, while performance on mental state reasoning was positively associated with success on scalar but not ad-hoc implicatures.
Keywords: acquisition of pragmatics, scalar implicatures, ad-hoc implicatures, experimental pragmatics
Published in RUNG: 17.09.2021; Views: 1327; Downloads: 0
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On the interpretation of scalar implicatures infirst andsecond language
Greta Mazzaggio, Daniele Panizza, Luca Surian, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: We investigated the effect of presenting items in a foreign language (L2) on scalar- implicatures computation. To ensure that L2 processing was more effortful than the pro- cessing of the native language (L1), participants were late learners of L2 immersed in an L1 environment and they were presented with oral stimuli under time constraints. If scalar- implicatures computation requires cognitive effort one should !nd that people are more likely to compute scalar implicatures in L1 than in L2. In two experiments, participants were asked to perform a Sentence Evaluation Task either Italian, their native language, or in a foreign language (English or Spanish). The task included underinformative statements such as “Some dogs are animals” that, if interpreted in a pragmatic way (i.e., “Some but not all dogs are animals”) should be rejected as false. In both experiments, we found more rejections in the native language condition than in the foreign language conditions. These results provide support for models that maintain that scalar-implicature computation is effortful.
Keywords: scalar implicatures, pragmatics, default models, non-default models, second-language comprehension
Published in RUNG: 17.09.2021; Views: 1308; Downloads: 0
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Ad-hoc and scalar implicatures in children with autism spectrum disorder
Greta Mazzaggio, Francesca Foppolo, Remo Job, Luca Surian, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: Previous studies found that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) perform well on pragmatic inference tests that require the use of the linguistic scale . The present study extends previous research by testing two types of implicature: scalar implicatures, based on lexical scales, and ad-hoc implicatures, based on contextual scales. We tested 26 children with ASD aged 4–10 years (mean age 7.1) and 26 typically developing (TD) children – matched on chronological age and with a similar performance in non- verbal IQ and vocabulary – by means of a picture selection task for scalar and ad-hoc implica- tures. We also investigated the effect of children’s scores in standardized tests measuring non- verbal intelligence, lexical, and morphosyntactic abilities and Theory-of-Mind skills on their performance in the implicature tasks. Although more than half of the children with ASD performed above chance on both kinds of implicatures, their performance as a group was significantly lower than the performance of their TD peers. General cognitive abilities were found to affect the performance of children with ASD on both kinds of implicatures, and Theory-of-Mind reasoning skills were found to be linked to their performance on scalar, but not ad-hoc implicatures. We show that children with ASD have difficulty with both kinds of implicatures. These findings may have implications for explanatory theories of pragmatics as well as for clinical work with children with ASD.
Keywords: experimental pragmatics, scalar implicatures, high-functioning autism, theory of mind, development
Published in RUNG: 17.09.2021; Views: 1400; Downloads: 0
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Tanto per intenderci. Breve introduzione alla pragmatica sperimentale.
Greta Mazzaggio, 2021, scientific monograph

Abstract: Ogni giorno, a volte senza nemmeno rendercene conto, comunichiamo alle persone attorno a noi molto più di quello che diciamo. Non veicoliamo messaggi solo attraverso le parole, ma, sorprendentemente, anche con ciò che “non diciamo”, e il contesto condiziona profondamente il messaggio. In che modo linguaggio e contesto si relazionano per risolvere le ambiguità, comprendere ciò che gli altri ci dicono implicitamente, apprezzare la metafora o l’ironia? Tutto questo sembra avvenire senza sforzo alcuno, ma è veramente così? A queste domande prova a rispondere una nuova disciplina di ricerca, la pragmatica sperimentale, la quale adotta metodologie scientifiche per studiare quanto la relazione fra parlanti e contesto sia alla base della comunicazione umana. In questo libro passeremo in rassegna molti fenomeni linguistici e pragmatici, cercando di analizzare come la ricerca possa essere d’aiuto nel capire i meccanismi che ci permettono di comunicare e cosa succede quando questi si inceppano.
Keywords: experimental pragmatics, italian, pragmatics, implicatures, presuppositions, pronouns, speech acts, gricean maxims, irony
Published in RUNG: 14.09.2021; Views: 1513; Downloads: 0
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Do children derive exact meanings pragmatically? Evidence from a dual morphology language
Franc Marušič, Rok Žaucer, Amanda Saksida, Jessica Sullivan, Dimitrios Skordos, Longlong Wang, David Barner, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: Number words allow us to describe exact quantities like sixty-three and (exactly) one. How do we derive exact interpretations? By some views, these words are lexically exact, and are therefore unlike other grammatical forms in language. Other theories, however, argue that numbers are not special and that their exact interpretation arises from pragmatic enrichment, rather than lexically. For example, the word one may gain its exact interpretation because the presence of the immediate successor two licenses the pragmatic inference that one implies “one, and not two”. To investigate the possible role of pragmatic enrichment in the development of exact representations, we looked outside the test case of number to grammatical morphological markers of quantity. In particular, we asked whether children can derive an exact interpretation of singular noun phrases (e.g., “a button”) when their language features an immediate “successor” that encodes sets of two. To do this, we used a series of tasks to compare English-speaking children who have only singular and plural morphology to Slovenian-speaking children who have singular and plural forms, but also dual morphology, that is used when describing sets of two. Replicating previous work, we found that English-speaking preschoolers failed to enrich their interpretation of the singular and did not treat it as exact. New to the present study, we found that 4- and 5-year-old Slovenian-speakers who comprehended the dual treated the singular form as exact, while younger Slovenian children who were still learning the dual did not, providing evidence that young children may derive exact meanings pragmatically.
Keywords: Acquisition of quantity expressions, Acquisition of exactness, Pragmatics of grammatical number, Inferences on quantity, Dual, Slovenian
Published in RUNG: 13.12.2020; Views: 1970; Downloads: 0
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