The influence of only and even on online semantic interpretation

Filik, Ruth, Paterson, Kevin B. and Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 (2009) The influence of only and even on online semantic interpretation. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16 (4). pp. 678-683. ISSN 1069-9384

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Focus particles such as only and even indicate that the focused element(s) in a sentence should be contrasted with a set of contextually defined alternatives. Only indicates that properties assigned to the focus set are not shared by elements of the alternative set, whereas even indicates that the focus and alternative sets share the properties mentioned in the sentence. <br/><br/>Even has the additional function of marking the focused element as being low on a scale of alternatives ranked in terms of likelihood, thereby signaling that what is being described is somewhat surprising. Using eyetracking, we demonstrate that contrast information associated with only and even is rapidly processed online, with effects for even being delayed, as compared with only (Experiment 1). <br/><br/>This difference in time course was not driven by the underlying semantics of the sentence without the focus particle (Experiment 2) but was probably due to even's more complex semantic function.

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