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Beáta Gyuris


The aim of this paper is to provide new insights for the analysis of bias in polar questions by showing that the distinction proposed by Sudo (2013) between evidential and epistemic biases leads to an integrated picture of the Hungarian system of polar interrogatives. For the first time, a comprehensive analysis of this system is given here and it is shown how the contributions of certain formal features, such as the interrogative and the negative particles, can be captured independently. This perspective helps to explain restrictions on the occurrences of the different forms of polar interrogatives in Hungarian with respect to a large number of question uses. The paper derives the biases associated with the individual constituents from different sources and makes some proposals on how their impact could be incorporated into a formal model of dialogue.

Gerard O’Grady

Simon-Vandenbergen (2000: 61) concluded her study of I think in political discourse by noting the importance of further study of its prosodic realisation. Consequently, I investigate the prosodic realisations of I think in political debates. At the same time, I examine the lexico-grammatical form of the construction, and its surrounding co-text. My exploration confirmed that I think is frequent in political speech, and revealed that it projected four types of meanings. Three of the meanings occurred irrespective of the intonational choices, though prosody influenced the likelihood of the occurrence of a particular meaning. There was a greater likelihood of the speaker expressing a tentative statement if think was prominent/tonic. Intonational prominence on I explicitly warranted the source of the evaluation. When the construction did not contain an intonational prominence it tended to signal commitment to a proposition, or if followed by a filled pause or rhythmic disjunction a hesitation marker.

István Kenesei

The recent cognitive turn in linguistics is closely related to research into the creative nature of language. Formal creativity, or in other words, the recursive nature of language (with respect to both words, i.e., the basic units, and sentences, i.e., the end products) is what determines further domains of creativity, viz., at the level of meanings and in the theory of mind, providing for their unlimited and variable nature. Principles of the formal properties of language are presented at the levels of words and sentences, showing that recursion occurs both in words and sentences, indicating the local nature of syntactic relations, and demonstrating their neural correlates. Reference to neurolinguistic experiments is used to argue that metaphorical extensions of meanings are a natural phenomenon placing no burden on mental processing, even though literal meanings are not handled the same way as metaphors. It is claimed that sentential meanings have a primacy over word meanings, while words, and not sentences, are the basic units of the mental lexicon, i.e., long-term memory. In order to understand metaphors it is essential to have theory of mind (ToM), which develops in children parallel with the acquisition of complex syntactic structures involving mental verbs, as is shown by false-belief tasks. The nature and limits of the complexity of ToM is related to the limits of syntactic complexity in natural language.