Homograph processing in single-word context


  • Denhière Guy
  • Thérouanne Pierre

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Contextual constraints on the processing of homophonic homographs were investigated in a series of lexical decision experiments. The context was a word related to the dominant or subordinate meaning, or was not related. In three experiments, meaning access was assessed by target words related to either meaning of the homographs compared with non related targets. Results show a context dependant-access in dominant context and an exhaustive access in subordinate and neutral contexts. In two other experiments, lexical decisions were made on the homographs. Reaction times were shorter on homographs than on unambiguous control words whatever the nature of the context word. Moreover, homographs processing was facilitated in context related to either meaning and no subordinate bias effect (see Binder & Rayner, 1998) was noted. Hence, lexical context can influence homographs meaning access, whereas it cannot provide sufficient constraints to elicit a strictly selective access.

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