On the context dependence of artifact noun interpretation


  • Brandon Waldon
  • Cleo Condoravdi
  • Beth Levin
  • Judith Degen




The context dependence of artifact noun category boundaries is underexplored relative to interpretational context dependence in other linguistic domains (e.g., gradable adjectives). Taking inspiration from a normative debate over the role of context in legal interpretation (in particular, the role of legislators’ policy goals), we show experimentally that contextual information as to a rule’s purpose systematically modulates interpreter beliefs about the category boundaries of artifact nouns contained within the rule. We propose a Bayesian pragmatic model of the context-dependent resolution of artifact noun extensions, which we compare against context-independent baselines. Our experimental and modeling results suggest the need for an explicitly context-sensitive, multi-dimensional degree semantics for artifact nouns.




How to Cite

Waldon, B., Condoravdi, C., Levin, B., & Degen, J. (2023). On the context dependence of artifact noun interpretation. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 27, 674–692. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2023.v27.1093