|M.Sc Student||Kerem Nir|
|Subject||Effects of Typicality on the Interpretation|
of Reciprocal Expressions
|Department||Department of Computer Science||Supervisor||Professor Emeritus Alon Itai|
|Full Thesis text|
The variability in the interpretation of reciprocal expressions such as each other has been extensively addressed in the literature and received detailed semantic accounts. After pointing out a central empirical limitation of previous logical accounts of reciprocity, we argue that these approaches suffer from inadequacies due to ignoring typicality preferences with binary predicate concepts. We claim that typicality preferences are crucial for interpreting reciprocal expressions and introduce a new principle, the Maximal Typicality Hypothesis (MTH), which analyzes reciprocals using an extension of the Strongest Meaning Hypothesis (SMH) proposed in Dalrymple et al.’s article “Reciprocal Expressions and the Concept of
Reciprocity” (Linguistics & Philosophy 1998). Unlike the SMH, which is a principle that implicitly presupposes a classical two-valued (“definitional”) treatment of predicate concepts, the MTH respects the fuzziness of such concepts as manifested by their typicality preferences, and expects strong correlations between these preferences and the range of logical interpretations available for reciprocal expressions. To test our hypothesis, we conducted a series of psycho-linguistic experiments with speakers of Hebrew, designed to test for typicality preferences and interpretation of reciprocal expressions. The results of these experiments indicate a strong, significant correlation between typicality preferences and reciprocal interpretation, supporting the MTH.