Nonliteral Understanding of Number Words - PNAS

Discussion of Julian Jaynes's second hypothesis - that before the development of consciousness, humans operated under a previous mentality called the bicameral mind.
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Nonliteral Understanding of Number Words - PNAS

Post by ETSubmariner »

I came across this peer-reviewed, full text study at PNAS: Nonliteral understanding of number words via this article: How numbers help us spot metaphors and irony

Abstract: "One of the most puzzling and important facts about communication is that people do not always mean what they say; speakers often use imprecise, exaggerated, or otherwise literally false descriptions to communicate experiences and attitudes. Here, we focus on the nonliteral interpretation of number words, in particular hyperbole (interpreting unlikely numbers as exaggerated and conveying affect) and pragmatic halo (interpreting round numbers imprecisely). We provide a computational model of number interpretation as social inference regarding the communicative goal, meaning, and affective subtext of an utterance. We show that our model predicts humans’ interpretation of number words with high accuracy. Our model is the first to our knowledge to incorporate principles of communication and empirically measured background knowledge to quantitatively predict hyperbolic and pragmatic halo effects in number interpretation. This modeling framework provides a unified approach to nonliteral language understanding more generally."
Kenneth Pfaff
Head Librarian, The Grotto Library
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