Exploring the measurement of markedness and its relationship with other linguistic variables

Ingram, J., Hand, C. J. and Maciejewski, G. (2016) Exploring the measurement of markedness and its relationship with other linguistic variables. PLoS ONE, 11(6), e0157141. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157141) (PMID:27280450) (PMCID:PMC4900653)

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Antonym pair members can be differentiated by each word’s markedness–that distinction attributable to the presence or absence of features at morphological or semantic levels. Morphologically marked words incorporate their unmarked counterpart with additional morphs (e.g., “unlucky” vs. “lucky”); properties used to determine semantically marked words (e.g., “short” vs. “long”) are less clearly defined. Despite extensive theoretical scrutiny, the lexical properties of markedness have received scant empirical study. The current paper employs an antonym sequencing approach to measure markedness: establishing markedness probabilities for individual words and evaluating their relationship with other lexical properties (e.g., length, frequency, valence). Regression analyses reveal that markedness probability is, as predicted, related to affixation and also strongly related to valence. Our results support the suggestion that antonym sequence is reflected in discourse, and further analysis demonstrates that markedness probabilities, derived from the antonym sequencing task, reflect the ordering of antonyms within natural language. In line with the Pollyanna Hypothesis, we argue that markedness is closely related to valence; language users demonstrate a tendency to present words evaluated positively ahead of those evaluated negatively if given the choice. Future research should consider the relationship of markedness and valence, and the influence of contextual information in determining which member of an antonym pair is marked or unmarked within discourse.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by funding from the University of Bedfordshire Research Centre for Applied Psychology.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hand, Dr Christopher and Ingram, Dr Joanne
Authors: Ingram, J., Hand, C. J., and Maciejewski, G.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Ingram et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 11(6): e0157141
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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