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Polysemy in the mental lexicon: relatedness and frequency affect representational overlap.

Jager, B., Green, M. and Cleland, A.A., 2016. Polysemy in the mental lexicon: relatedness and frequency affect representational overlap. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31 (3), 425 - 429.

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PDF (This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Language, Cognition and Neuroscience on 5.11.15, available online:
polysemy_in_the_mental_lexicon-accepted.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


DOI: 10.1080/23273798.2015.1105986


Meaning relatedness affects storage of ambiguous words in the mental lexicon: unrelated meanings(homonymy) are stored separately whereas related senses (polysemy) are stored as one large representational entry. We hypothesised that word frequency could have similar effects on storage, with low-frequency words having high representational overlap and high-frequency words having low representational overlap. Participants performed lexical decision or semantic categorisation to high- and low-frequency nouns with few and many senses. Results showed a three-way interaction between frequency, task type, and polysemy. Low-frequency words showed a polysemy advantage with lexical decision but a polysemy disadvantage with semantic categorisation, whereas high-frequency words showed the opposite pattern. These results confirmed our hypothesis that relatedness and word frequency have similar effects on storage of ambiguous words.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Polysemy; lexical ambiguity; relatedness; word frequency; representational overlap
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:27801
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:15 Mar 2017 11:38
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:03


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