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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Lyn Frazier

Second Advisor

Ana Arregui

Third Advisor

Rajesh Bhatt

Fourth Advisor

Charles Clifton Jr.

Subject Categories

Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics | Semantics and Pragmatics


This dissertation investigates the role of Focus-sensitivity for a typology of presupposition triggers. The central hypothesis is that Focus-sensitive triggers require a linguistic antecedent in the discourse model, whereas presuppositions of triggers lacking Focus-sensitivity are satisfied as entailments of the Common Ground. This hypothesis is supported by experimental evidence from two borne out predictions. First, Focus-sensitive triggers are sensitive to the salience of the antecedent satisfying their presupposition, as operationalized via the Question Under Discussion, and lead to interference-type effects, while triggers lacking Focus-sensitivity are indifferent to the QUD-structure. Second, Focus-sensitive triggers are harder to globally accommodate than triggers lacking Focus-sensitivity. The picture that emerges from these results is that the same kind of meaning - presuppositions - is grounded in distinct underlying representations of context in relation to an independent property of the trigger - Focus-sensitivity - which directly affects the way a trigger is processed.