The time course of discourse priming in the interpretation of conceptual combinations



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Texas A&M University


People often create novel lexical expressions to efficiently communicate their thoughts to others. Noun-noun phrases, also known as conceptual combinations, serve as an example of these novel expressions. Most of the research on conceptual combination has focused on structural features of the phrases. However, other research has demonstrated that discourse context can also influence how these phrases are interpreted. Across two experiments, we demonstrate that discourse context has a greater influence on how people interpret these combinations than does a structural level manipulation. We also examine the strength of this contextually based-effect over a series of time delays. The findings from this study indicate that, while structural features of a given conceptual combination influence how that combination is interpreted, the discourse surrounding the novel combination plays a more influential role in the resulting interpretation. The influence of context is more pronounced than has been suggested in much of the research on conceptual combination.