Processing conjunctive entailment of disjunction

Chin Ting Jimbo Liu, Li Mei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In a sentence where the disjunction huo 'or' appears under the negation mei 'no' (e.g.: Ta mei chi qingjiao huo qiezi. 'He did not eat green peppers or eggplants.'), the sentence is globally ambiguous between the conjunctive interpretation and the disjunctive interpretation. The primary goal of this study is to investigate if there is a default meaning for simple negative statements containing huo 'or'. Data collected from the self-paced region-by-region reading experiment indicated that the participants consistently preferred the conjunctive interpretation. Additionally, in the conjunction-biased condition where the sentences turned out to favor the disjunctive interpretations at the end, there was reading time penalty at the last region of the sentences and participants spent significantly longer time judging the appropriateness of those sentences. Contrary to Jing's (2008) assertion that both disjunction and conjunction readings are equally prominent in an out-of-the-blue context, the results from the quantitative data revealed that the conjunction reading is the default meaning for simple negative statements containing huo 'or'. The findings of the current experiment provide essential implications to the study of child language acquisition. Specifically, we argue that understanding the adults' linguistic patterns is a prerequisite to the study of children's language acquisition patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-295
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage and Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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