Type and Thematic Fit in Logical Metonymy

Alessandra ZarconeUniversität Stuttgart
Sebastian PadoUniversität Stuttgart
Alessandro LenciUniversità di Pisa

Abstract

Logical metonymies (begin the book → reading) involve the understanding of covert events. Lexicalist approaches claim that the metonymy arises from a type clash (event-selecting verb + entity-denoting object), and place (limited) covert event information in the noun’s lexical entry. Recent work suggests that people exploit generalized knowledge about typical events and their participants (quantifiable as thematic fit) to generate expectations about upcoming input. Covert events should then be events with the best fit with the whole sentence context (not limited to what is assumed by lexicalist approaches). We present a probe recognition experiment showing effects of thematic fit on logical metonymies (the baker began the icing → SPREAD / EAT) and a self-paced reading experiment crossing type and thematic fit (the child began with the toy[ENTITY] / scuffle[EVENT] / medicine[ENTITY] / therapy[EVENT]). Our results indicate that both type and thematic fit play a role in logical metonymy interpretation.

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