MoL-2017-09: Quantifiers and verification strategies: connecting the dots (literally)

MoL-2017-09: Talmina, Natalia (2017) Quantifiers and verification strategies: connecting the dots (literally). [Report]

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The meaning of natural language expressions is usually identified with the conditions under which this expression is true. An alternative view – the procedural approach to meaning – identifies the meaning of an expression with an algorithm (or algorithms) for judging whether the expression is true or false. However, the relationship between meaning and verification is a complex one: as Hunter et al. (2016) argue, identifying a verification procedure with the truth conditions of an expression is an oversimplification. Instead, several authors have suggested that meanings come with verification weight that makes certain verification strategies more preferable by default, even when the context of a task would make a different strategy more accurate or efficient. An experimental study by Hackl (2009) illustrates this point by providing evidence that quantifiers most and more than half, albeit truth-conditionally equivalent, trigger distinct default verification profiles.
The problem with this type of evidence, however, is that a number of confounding factors can interact with the choice of a verification strategy: differences in subjects’ cognitive resources, the type of linguistic input, and the kind of task at hand, just to name a few. In this thesis, we will present the results of two experimental studies that partially address this problem by controlling for individual executive resources and making explicit predictions about the strategies underlying the verification of most and more than half. We will argue that while there are differences in how subjects verify most and more than half, they do not result in completely distinct patterns. Finally, we will propose a different approach to the relationship between the meaning and verification of quantifiers. We will propose that instead of corresponding to one default verification strategy, quantifiers are associated with a collection of strategies, some of which overlap for different quantifiers. The choice of a strategy among those is ultimately defined by multiple factors, such as context, the task at hand, personal preferences and resources, and the type of input.

Item Type: Report
Report Nr: MoL-2017-09
Series Name: Master of Logic Thesis (MoL) Series
Year: 2017
Subjects: Language
Depositing User: Dr Marco Vervoort
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2017 15:53
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2017 15:53

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