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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effects of negation and knowledgeability on pragmatic inferences


Language use can be characterised as transparent, stating facts about the world, or non-transparent, requiring additional meaning to be inferred. The challenge faced by addressees is recognizing when language use is transparent or not. The current study investigates two factors that may influence how readily participants interpret utterances as instances of transparent or non-transparent language use; speaker knowledgeability and utterance form. When utterances involved negation participants were more likely to recognize this as non-transparent language use and infer that the situation is usually different. Whereas speaker knowledge did not influence how utterances were understood.

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