Ksenija Mišić, Dušica Filipović Đurđević

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Previous research with the visual lexical decision task demonstrated that polysemous words (multiple related senses) have a processing advantage when compared to unambiguous words, whereas homonymous words (multiple unrelated meanings) have a processing disadvantage. Although the same pattern of results was observed in Serbian, the two effects were investigated in separate studies. The aim of this study was to test whether the effects can be replicated when both types of ambiguity are presented within the same experimental list. To test this, we conducted three experiments. In the first one, the mixed presentation of unambiguous, homonymous, and polysemous words did not reveal any of the ambiguity effects, leading to the conclusion that the experimental context may affect the emergence of ambiguity effects. The other two experiments were conducted to explicitly control for the experimental context. In both experiments, we presented each ambiguity type within the same block and counterbalanced the order of the block presentation. These experiments revealed the presence of the polysemy advantage, but not the homonymy disadvantage, which is a common pattern in literature. Polysemy effects typically emerge relatively easily, whereas the homonymy disadvantage requires additional conditions. Finally, we conclude that experimental context does play a role in ambiguity processing, although the order of presentation does not affect the overall results.


lexical ambiguity, polysemy, homonymy, experimental context

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