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Research

We study how social context affects language comprehension and interpretation in several domains:


Factors related to social groups (funded by the Israeli Science Foundation)

Social groups are categories, such as age, gender, language, or political affiliation, that are used to define self-identities. In this large-scale project, we ask how such social characteristics of the speaker affect language processing and pragmatic inferencing, and what cognitive functions mediate the effects. Conversely, we also ask whether language use affect the social perception of speakers. More specifically we ask: (1) Does intergroup interactive settings, where interlocutors from different social groups converse, hinder the ability to make pragmatic inferencing? (Joint work with Prof. Yoav Bar Anan) (2) Do interactions with non-native and native speakers posit differential linguistic behavior and different cooperation between speakers and listeners? (3) Do social cues of the speaker affect ambiguity resolution?

Factors related to situational context

In this project, we ask how contextual cues affect language processing and pragmatic inferencing. More specifically, we ask: (1) Does pragmatic inferencing is encouraged by contexts that promote politeness or uncertainty? (2) Do disbelief conditions trigger the creation of alternative narratives, and whether this is reflected in patterns of brain synchronization? (Joint work with Dr. Yaara Yeshurun).

Scalar terms (funded by the Israeli Science Foundation)

In this research, we examine the interpretation of weak scalar terms, based on either lexical scales or context-dependent, ad-hoc, scales. Such terms can give rise to a logical/semantic interpretation (i.e., lower-bounded reading) or a pragmatic interpretation (i.e., upper-bounded reading). Using various experimental methods, from simple truth-value judgment to act out drawing task and fMRI techniques, we assess the differences in interpretation with within different types of lexical scalar terms and between lexical and ad-hoc scalar expressions, as well as between speakers. (Joint work with Prof. Mira Ariel).