Cognitive Science 39 (7):1504-1536 (2015)

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Abstract
Quantifier expressions like “many” and “at least” are part of a rich repository of words in language representing magnitude information. The role of numerical processing in comprehending quantifiers was studied in a semantic truth value judgment task, asking adults to quickly verify sentences about visual displays using numerical or proportional quantifiers. The visual displays were composed of systematically varied proportions of yellow and blue circles. The results demonstrated that numerical estimation and numerical reference information are fundamental in encoding the meaning of quantifiers in terms of response times and acceptability judgments. However, a difference emerges in the comparison strategies when a fixed external reference numerosity is used for numerical quantifiers, whereas an internal numerical criterion is invoked for proportional quantifiers. Moreover, for both quantifier types, quantifier semantics and its polarity biased the response direction. Overall, our results indicate that quantifier comprehension involves core numerical and lexical semantic properties, demonstrating integrated processing of language and numbers
Keywords Numerical comparison  Numerical estimation  Semantic polarity  Numerical and proportional quantifiers
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DOI 10.1111/cogs.12219
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