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Title: Processing lexical ambiguity : the effects of meaning relatedness, word frequency, concreteness, and level of processing
Author: Jager, Bernadet
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 2107
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores the processing of lexical ambiguity: words with several unrelated meanings (homonymy) or many related senses (polysemy). Chapter I provides a literature overview of studies investigating this topic. Chapters 2 and 3 pursue a first goal: to investigate whether effects are influenced by the methodology of defining lexical ambiguity. The results support the hypothesis (Rodd, Gaskell, & Marslen- Wilson, 2002) that studies using questionnaires to define lexical ambiguity (e.g. Rubenstein, Garfield, & Millikan, 1970) found a polysemy advantage rather than a homonymy advantage. Questionnaire-based ambiguity classifications are more similar to dictionary-defined polysemy than to homonymy (Experiment 1). Moreover, earlier findings (e.g. Rodd et al., 2002) of a polysemy advantage and homonymy disadvantage are replicated, and the questionnaire-based classifications result in effects more similar to the former than to the latter (Experiments 2 to 4). Chapters 4 to 6 pursue a second goal: to explore the effects of polysemy and homonymy with new stimuli. Chapters 4 and 5 indicate that polysemy effects are sensitive to concreteness (Experiments 5 & 6), frequency (Experiment 7), and level of processing (Experiment 8). Furthermore, polysemy effects seem to take place relatively late (Experiment 9). In contrast, Chapter 6 does not find any effects of homonymy (Experiments 10 to 12). Chapter 7 pursues a third goal: to test whether the relationship between senses plays a role in word processing. Sense relationship influences word recognition (Experiments 13 & 16), but not semantic categorization (Experiment 14). The temporal locus of the lexical decision effect cannot be determined (Experiment 15). Finally, Chapter 8 shows that the current findings fit reasonably well within an account by Rodd, Gaskell, and Marslen- Wilson (2004), and suggests possible directions for further research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Semantics ; Ambiguity ; Psycholinguistics