Whether words can be coerced by constructions into new uses is determined in part by semantic sensicality and statistical preemption. But other factors are also at play. Experimental results reported here suggest that speakers are more confident that a target coinage is acceptable to the degree that attested instances cover the semantic space that includes the target coinage. The relevance of coverage is supported by combined effects of type frequency and variability of attested instances Experiments 1a1b, and an expected interaction between similarity and variability Experiment 3. Similarity to an attested instance is also found to play a role: speakers are more confident of a target coinage when the coinage is more similar to an attested instance Experiment 3. Experiment 2 provides a manipulation check that indicates that participants are in fact basing their confidence ratings on the perceived productivity of constructions. The results reported here lend support to the idea that the productivity of constructions depends on general properties of induction.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language