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This project tests how a sentence-internal cue impacts comprehenders’ resolution of ambiguity between a meaning derivable from a straightforward composition of a sentence’s semantic elements and an interpretation requiring pragmatic inference. The expressions we target are ones that, semantically at least, signal the speaker’s commitment to the truth of the current proposition. We test comprehenders’ interpretation of metaphoric descriptions following expressions like real/literal/actual: Do these adjectives support literal or non-literal interpretations? Our approach is to use sentence ratings and self-paced reading to test the interpretation of descriptions across three conditions:
(1) He is a deceitful weasel… [metaphor-supporting]
(2) He is a real weasel… [truth-endorsing]
(3) He is a furry weasel… [non-metaphoric]