[PS-3.85] This week, but not next: Temporal implicatures and their interplay with world knowledge during language comprehension

Czypionka, A. . 1, 2 & Lauer, S. 1

1 University of Constance
2 University of Wroclaw

When hearing ''John ate some of the cake'', speakers understand that John did not eat all of the cake - drawing a scalar implicature (SI) caused by the scalar expression ''some''. In pragmatics, SIs are thought to arise from complex social reasoning, different from linguistically-encoded meaning. Recent psycholinguistic work shows SIs are psychologically real, are processed differently from semantic entailments, and that speakers can distinguish between linguistically-encoded content and SIs.
We present judgment data on a new type of implicature, temporal implicatures (TIs). TIs arise from temporal modification: ''John is tired this week'' implies ''John is not always tired''. Using a modification of Doran et al.'s ''Literal Lucy'' paradigm, we show that
- TIs, like SIs, affect truth-value judgements.
- TIs arise more robustly than SIs.
- TIs arise even if they contradict the speaker?s world-knowledge.
- Hearers can block TIs and SIs when instructed to not draw implicatures
Our data show that TIs and SIs are psychologically real, and that TIs are routinely drawn during language comprehension. Our results suggest that there are genuine pragmatic inferences not cancelled by contradicting world-knowledge. This requires revising theoretical accounts of conversational inference predicting that implicatures are routinely cancelled by incompatible context information.