Design of a corpus of stimuli for a psycholinguistic study of lexical ambiguity

Keywords: lexical ambiguity, homonymy, polysemy, pyscholinguistics, stimuli, synchrony


Lexical ambiguity takes place when a word has more than one meaning. This phenomenon could therefore lead to multiple difficulties in the processing of information; however, speakers deal almost effortlessly with ambiguous units on a daily basis. In order to understand how ambiguous items are processed by speakers, a clear synchronic definition of homonymy and polysemy is needed. In this paper a methodology to gather subjective information about ambiguous words and the relation within their meanings is proposed. Based on this methodology, a corpus of Spanish stimuli is being developed: this corpus consists of words classified as monosemic, homonymous and polysemous via the subjective interpretation of Spanish speakers. This corpus could be used to conduct experimental tasks to determine the behaviour in on-line processing of items with more than one meaning, in order to later design appropriate methods of approaching this complex phenomenon from the point of view of Psycholinguistics.


Download data is not yet available.


Beretta, Alan, Robert Fiorentino and David Poeppel. 2005. The effects of homonymy and polysemy on lexical access: An MEG study. Cognitive Brain Research 24/1: 57–65.

Cuetos, Fernando, Alberto Domínguez and Manuel de Vega. 1997. El efecto polisemia: Ahora lo ves otra vez. Cognitiva 9/2: 175–194.

Domínguez, Alberto, Fernando Cuetos and Manuel de Vega. 2001. 100 palabras polisémicas con sus acepciones. Revista Electrónica de Metodología Aplicada 6/2: 63–84.

Duchon, Andrew, Manuel Perea, Nuria Sebastián-Gallés, Antonia Martí and Manuel Carreiras. 2013. EsPal: One-stop shopping for Spanish word properties. Behavior Research Methods 45/4: 1246–1258.

Eddington, Chelsea and Natasha Tokowicz. 2015. How meaning similarity influences ambiguous word processing: The current state of the literature. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 22/1: 13–37

Estévez, Adelina. 1991. Estudio normativo sobre ambigüedad en castellano. Cognitiva 3/2: 237–271.

Falkum, Ingrid Lossius and Agustín Vicente. 2015. Polysemy: Current perspectives and approaches. Lingua 157: 1–16.

Foraker, Stephani and Gregory Murphy. 2012. Polysemy in sentence comprehension: Effects of meaning dominance. Journal of Memory and Language 67/4: 407–425.

Fraga, Isabel, Isabel Padrón, Manuel Perea and Montserrat Comesaña. 2017. I saw this somewhere else. The Spanish Ambiguous Words (SAW) database. Lingua 185: 1–10.

Gernsbacher, Morton Ann. 1984. Resolving 20 years of inconsistent interactions between lexical familiarity and orthography, concreteness, and polysemy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 113/2: 256–281.

Gómez-Veiga, Isabel, Nuria Carriedo, Mercedes Rucián and Óscar J. Vila. 2010. Estudio normativo de ambigüedad léxica en castellano en niños y en adultos. Psicológica 31: 25–47.

González-Nosti, María, Analía Barbón, Javier Rodríguez-Ferreiro and Fernando Cuetos. 2014. Effects of the psyscholinguistic variables on the lexical decision task in Spanish: A study with 2765 words. Behaviour Research Methods 46/2: 517–525.

Guasch, Marc, Roger Boada, Pilar Ferré and Rosa Sánchez-Casas. 2013. NIM: A Web-based Swiss Army knife to select stimuli for psycholinguistic studies. Behavior Research Methods 44/3: 756–771.

Gutiérrez Ordóñez, Salvador. 1989. Introducción a la Semántica Funcional. Madrid: Síntesis.

Haro, Juan, Pilar Ferré, Roger Boada and Josep Demestre. 2015. Ambiguity advantage depends on how ambiguous words are categorized. Poster presented at the XII International Symposium of Psycholinguistics, University of València, 3rd July, 2015.

Haro, Juan, Josep Demestre, Roger Boada and Pilar Ferré. 2017a. ERP and behavioral effects of semantic ambiguity in a lexical decision task. Journal of Neurolinguistics 44: 190–202.

Haro, Juan, Pilar Ferré, Roger Boada and Josep Demestre. 2017b. Semantic ambiguity norms for 530 Spanish words. Applied Psycholinguistics 38/2: 457–475.

Hino, Yasushi and Stephen Lupker. 1996. Effects of polysemy in lexical decision and naming: An alternative to lexical access accounts. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 22/6: 1331–1356.

Hino, Yasushi, Stephen Lupker and Penny Pexman. 2002. Ambiguity and synonymy effects in lexical decision, naming and semantic categorization tasks: Interactions between orthography, phonology and semantics. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition 28/4: 686–713.

Jager, Bernardet and Alexandra Cleland. 2016. Polysemy advantage with abstract but not concrete words. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 45/1: 143–156.

Jager, Bernardet, Matt Green and Alexandra Cleland. 2016. Polysemy in the mental lexicon: Relatedness and frequency affect representational overlap. Language Cognition and Neuroscience 31/3: 425–429.

Klepousniotou, Ekaterini and Shari R. Baum. 2007. Disambiguating the ambiguity advantage effect in word recognition: An advantage for polysemous but not homonymous words. Journal of Neurolinguistics 20/1: 1–24.

Lin, Chien-Jer Charles and Kathleen Ahrens. 2010. Ambiguity advantage revisited: Two meanings are better than one when accessing Chinese nouns. Journal of Psycholinguistics Research 39: 1–19.

López-Cortés, Natalia. 2019. La interpretación subjetiva de la ambigüedad léxica: Una aplicación lexicográfica. LinRed: Lingüística en la Red 17: 1–16.

Millis, Michelle L. and Scoti B. Button. 1989. The effect of polysemy on lexical decision time: Now you see it, now you don’t. Memory and Cognition 17/2: 141–147.

Real Academia Española. 2018. Diccionario de la Lengua Española.

Rodd, Jennifer, Gareth Gaskell and William Marslen-Wilson. 2002. Making sense of semantic ambiguity semantic competition in lexical access. Journal of Memory and Language 46/2: 245–266.

Rubenstein, Herbert, Lonnie Garfield and Jane A. Millikan. 1970. Homographic entries in the internal lexicon. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 9/5: 487–494.

Tokowicz, Natasha and Judith F. Kroll. 2007. Number of meanings and concreteness: Consequences of ambiguity within and across language. Language and Cognitive Processes 22/5: 727–779.

How to Cite
López Cortés, N. (2020). Design of a corpus of stimuli for a psycholinguistic study of lexical ambiguity . Research in Corpus Linguistics, 8(1), 1-16.