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Linguistics Colloquium Speaker: Amanda Rysling

Thursday, March 28, 2024 at 4:30pm

Morrill Hall, 106
Cornell University Dept, 159 Central Avenue, Morrill Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4701, USA

The Department of Linguistics proudly presents Dr. Amanda Rysling, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Dr. Rysling will speak on "A new window on linguistic efficiency: what it takes to comprehend (a) focus."

Over the past half-century, psycholinguistic studies of linguistic focus — often described only as the most important or informative material — have found that comprehenders preferentially attend to focused material and process it more "deeply" or "effortfully" than non-focused material. But psycholinguists have investigated only a limited subset of focus constructions, and we have not come to an understanding of how costly focus is to process, what factors govern that cost, or why the language comprehension system behaves in the way that it does, and not others. In this talk, I discuss the problem for language comprehenders presented by the category of focus, and present evidence that focus processing is generally costly, but this cost can be attenuated by the presence of contrastive alternatives to a focus in the context before that upcoming focus, as would be expected on the basis of proposals in formal semantics (see Rooth, 1992, i.m.a.). Evidence from the processing of second-occurrence foci demonstrate that comprehenders seem to work harder than our general models of sentence processing would posit that they should have to in comprehending given focused material. These findings add to our understanding of what it means to be good enough or efficient in language processing, delineating conditions under which comprehenders do (not) find apparently important material to be worth processing deeply or effortfully.

Funded in part by the GPSAFC and Open to the Graduate Community.

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casling, cascal

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Contact Name

Heather Russell

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Amanda Rysling

Speaker Affiliation

University of California Santa Cruz

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Please contact Heather Russell at at least 72 hours in advance of the event for any special arrangements you may require in order to attend this event..

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Cornell Community

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