A context constructivist account of contextual diversity
- Shaorong Yan, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochcester, Rochester, New York, United States
- Francis Mollica, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, United States
- Michael Tanenhaus, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, United States
AbstractWord frequency effects have long served as an empirical and theoretical test bed for theories of language processing. A number of recent studies have suggested that Contextual Diversity (CD) is a better metric of retrieval processes than word frequency. Motivated by these findings, we sketch an active account of lexical access during sentence processing: language users store statistics about contextualized lexical representations and use lexical-contextual relations to both construct context and predict words given the context. In line with our account, we provide evidence from a frequency judgment experiment suggesting that words are not stored independently of their contexts of use. To further examine CD effects in reading, we analyzed reading times in self-paced reading and eye-tracking corpora. We demonstrate that as context is constructed, the role of CD in lexical retrieval is attenuated, reflecting a trade-off between context construction and contextualized word prediction.
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