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Journal Article

Ambiguity effects of rhyme and meter.

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Wallot,  Sebastian
Department of Language and Literature, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;
Interacting Minds Centre, Department of Culture and Society, Aarhus University;

Menninghaus,  Winfried
Department of Language and Literature, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Wallot, S., & Menninghaus, W. (2018). Ambiguity effects of rhyme and meter. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition., 44(12), 1947-1954. doi:10.1037/xlm0000557.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-4D6A-3
Abstract
Previous research has shown that rhyme and meter—although enhancing prosodic processing ease and memorability—also tend to make semantic processing more demanding. Using a set of rhymed and metered proverbs, as well as nonrhymed and nonmetered versions of these proverbs, the present study reveals this hitherto unspecified difficulty of comprehension to be specifically driven by perceived ambiguity. Roman Jakobson was the 1st to propose this hypothesis, in 1960. He suggested that “ambiguity is an intrinsic, inalienable feature” of “parallelistic” diction of which the combination of rhyme and meter is a pronounced example. Our results show that ambiguity indeed explains a substantial portion of the rhyme- and meter-driven difficulty of comprehension. Longer word-reading times differentially reflected ratings for ambiguity and comprehension difficulty. However, the ambiguity effect is not “inalienable.” Rather, many rhymed and metered sentences turned out to be low in ambiguity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)