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Title: Lexical ambiguity processing
Author: Ranjous, Majd
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 0857
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2004
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This thesis examines the processes underlying the interpretation of lexically ambiguous words. Experiments 1, 2 and 3 looked at sentence context effects on the processing of balanced ambiguities. The experiments show clear priming of words related to the meanings of the ambiguous word, but they failed to show any effects of context on meaning activation. Experiments 4 and 5 examined meaning activation when ambiguous words are presented on their own. Of particular interest the experiments examined whether meaning frequency has a major role in the early meaning activation, in other words whether the dominant meaning is activated first. Again the experiments showed significant activation of both meanings of the homograph but there was no evidence that frequency is a major factor in this activation process. Experiments 6 and 7 examined context effects on meaning activation in the form of single word context. Experiment 6 used the same materials as in Experiments 4 and 5while Experiment 7 used a subset of those materials and added new materials. Again, both experiments provided further evidence that both meanings are activated with no significant effects of word-context. Finally, Experiments 8, 9, and 10 investigated the role of subjects' attentive strategy; an important factor in language processing in general, and word recognition and meaning selection in particular. EJ5.periment 8 used materials from Experiment 7 but manipulated the semantic relation in the filler items to focus attention on the semantic relation in the experimental items. Similarly, Experiments 9 and 10 looked at this strategic role but in sentence context rather than word context. Experiment 8 produced results showing that subjects can indeed use this strategy to direct attention to the upcoming target resulting in selective access of the dominant meaning when context biased this meaning. When context biased the subordinate meaning, however, both meanings were accessed. Experiments 9 and 10 produced results showing that subjects can use this strategy but differently. In Experiment 9 there was marginally significant activation for both meanings. When context was manipulated in Experiment 10 both meanings were significantly activated Based on these results, a theoretical account of lexical ambiguity processing is proposed, and the thesis considers its implications for theories of lexical ambiguity and word recognition in general
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available