An Empirically Grounded Approach to Extend the Linguistic Coverage and Lexical Diversity of Verbal Probabilities

Christine EngelmannFriedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
Udo HahnFriedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Abstract

Linguistic expressions indicating uncertainty of states of knowledge or beliefs, such as “possible” or “might suggest”, are usually dealt with in the psycholinguistic community under the heading of ‘verbal probabilities’. Despite a remarkable level of quantitative and experimental rigor, studies dealing with this phenomenon suffer from several methodological shortcomings: The selection of items under scrutiny usually lacks empirical justification besides subjective preferences, the items are often investigated in isolation, i.e. without sufficient linguistic context and focus is typically on only few word classes, usually adjectives and adverbs. Our study introduces a rigorous empirical, corpus-based criterion for the selection of relevant items, thus balancing the variety of word classes and, as a consequence, enlarging the lexical diversity dealt with in this area of research. We also collect preliminary evidence for the impact discourse context has on the properly adjusting verbal probabilities.

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An Empirically Grounded Approach to Extend the Linguistic Coverage and Lexical Diversity of Verbal Probabilities (227 KB)



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