Pragmatic priming and the search for alternatives


Meanings of basic expressions can be enriched by considering what the speaker could have said, but chose not to, that is, the alternatives. We report three experiments testing whether there is a single enrichment procedure that stretches across diverse linguistic phenomena. Participants were primed to understand either the basic meaning or the enriched meaning of a sentence. We found that the enrichment mechanism could be primed across some expressions but not others, arguing against a universal enrichment mechanism. Our results have implications for understanding the processing of implied meaning and how linguistic phenomenon should be grouped together.

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