University of Oxford: Applied Linguistics Lunchtime Seminar Series

Prof Jenni Rodd is giving a talk at the Department of Education, University of Oxford

24th May 2021 12-1pm.

‘Settling Into Semantic Space: An Ambiguity-Focused Account of Word-Meaning

Most words are ambiguous: individual wordforms (e.g., “run”) can map onto multiple different interpretations depending on their sentence context (e.g., “the athlete/politician/river runs”). Models of word-meaning access must therefore explain how listeners and readers are able to rapidly settle on a single, contextually appropriate meaning for each word that they encounter. I will present a new account of word-meaning access that places semantic disambiguation at its core.

The model has three key characteristics. (i) Lexical-semantic knowledge is viewed as a high-dimensional space; familiar word meanings correspond to stable states within this lexical-semantic space. (ii) Multiple linguistic and paralinguistic cues can influence the settling process by which the system resolves on one of these familiar meanings. (iii) Learning mechanisms play a vital role in facilitating rapid word-meaning access by shaping and maintaining high quality lexical-semantic knowledge.

More information here

Ambiguity as (Information) Gaps: Processes of Creation and Resolution

Jenni Rodd is an invited speaker at this event on 16/17 November 2018 in the University of Tübingen, Germany.

Image result for tuebingen university

Title: The role of learning mechanisms in understanding ambiguous words


Lexical-semantic knowledge continues to be shaped by personal linguistic experience throughout the lifespan. Not only must new unfamiliar word meanings be integrated into the lexicon, but recent linguistic experiences with familiar word meanings also continues to reshape lexical knowledge. These learning mechanism are vital to supporting skilled, fluent word-meaning disambiguation.



Rachael Hulme Talk at BAAL Vocab SIG Conference


Rachael Hulme recently gave a talk at the British Association for Applied Linguistics–Vocabulary Special Interest Group (BAAL Vocab SIG) conference that took place 9-10 July 2018 at the UCL Institute of Education in London. She was awarded a prize for the joint best student presentation. The title and abstract of the talk can be found below:

Title: Tests assist adults’ learning of new meanings for familiar L1 words from stories.

Abstract: Adults often learn new meanings for familiar words, for example due to language evolving with changes in technology (e.g., the internet-related meaning of “troll”), or when learning a new subject/activity (e.g., the sailing term “boom”). The present studies use a naturalistic web-based story-reading paradigm to examine adults’ incidental acquisition and long-term retention of novel, artificial meanings for familiar words. Our previous research on this topic found remarkably little forgetting of word meanings between immediate tests and delayed tests one day or even one week after training.
Experiment 1 investigated whether testing participants immediately after training contributed to this good long-term retention, and whether this ‘testing effect’ differs between incidental and intentional learning. Participants (N=99) learned new meanings for existing words incidentally through story reading, and intentionally through a definition learning task. They were then tested immediately (without feedback) on half the items. After 24 hours, memory was better for items that had been tested immediately compared with those that had not. This testing effect was non-significantly larger for incidental than intentional learning.
Experiment 2 compared two methods of immediate test: cued recall and recognition. Participants (N=98) learned new meanings for familiar words incidentally through reading stories, and were tested immediately on half the items with either a cued recall or recognition test. They were tested on all items 24 hours later using both test methods. Memory was better for items that were previously tested using either method than for those that had not been tested; the difference was non-significantly larger for the recognition test. The testing effect also generalised across test tasks.
These findings have important implications for word learning studies that compare memory between two test points. This research also emphasises the key role that testing can play in learning new vocabulary from storybooks in educational settings.

Further information about the BAAL Vocab SIG can be found here:

Jenni Rodd to Give Talk at Workshop on Ambiguity at the University of Tübingen

University of Tübingen, Germany

Dr Jenni Rodd will be giving a talk at an international workshop on ‘Ambiguity as (Information) Gaps: Processes of Creation and Resolution’. The workshop will take place at the University of Tübingen, Germany on 16-17 November 2018.

Details about the workshop can be found here:

Symposium at EPS/CSBBCS Conference in St. John’s, Canada 4-7 July 2018

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Dr Jenni Rodd has organised a symposium entitled ‘Accessing the Meanings of Words: Perspectives on Lexical Ambiguity’ for the upcoming joint meeting of the Experimental Psychology Society and the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science. The conference will take place 4-7 July 2018 in St. John’s, Canada.

A preliminary schedule including details on the talks in the symposium can be found here: BBCS_2018_Talk_and_Poster_Schedule.pdf

Symposium at Recent Meeting of the Psychonomic Society

Symposium speakers at the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Dr Jenni Rodd organised a symposium entitled ‘Learning Words from Experience: The Emergence of Lexical Quality’ at the recently-held International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Amsterdam.

Details of the talks that were included in the symposium can be found here: