- Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics
- Copyright Page
- List of figures and tables
- List of abbreviations
- The contributors
- Language Comprehension, Inference, and Alternatives
- Constraint-Based Pragmatic Processing
- Scalar Implicatures
- Event (De)composition
- Presuppositions, Projection, and Accommodation
- Spatial Terms
- Modified Numerals
- Quantifier Spreading
- Adjective Meaning and Scales
- Ironic Utterances
- Verbal Uncertainty
- Word Senses
- Antecedent-Contained Deletion
- Exhaustivity in <i>It</i>-Clefts
- Negative Polarity Items
- Reference and Informativeness
- Prosody and Meaning
- Theory of Mind
- Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics
Abstract and Keywords
When communicating uncertain facts, about risky outcomes or about the likelihood of future prospects, one may use numerical probabilities (e.g. there is a 20% probability) or verbal probabilities (e.g. there is a small chance). The present chapter provides an overview of the research into verbal probabilities; a survey of the methods used to tackle the meaning of verbal probabilities and unveil their usage; and an overview of the key findings in the field, including how people interpret the degree of certainty conveyed by verbal probabilities, the factors that affect this interpretation, how verbal probabilities are directional and can be used to frame uncertainty and the way speakers use verbal probabilities to make predictions.
Marie Juanchich (PhD, Socio-Cognitive Psychology) is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Faculty of Science and Health at the University of Essex. Marie trained as an experimental psychologist in Toulouse, France. Her research generally focuses on uncertainty and risk communication. She is particularly interested in the way people leverage the language of uncertainty to convey subtle information and how this subtle information shapes the judgements and decisions of recipients. One of the reasons this topic is of particular interest is its many potential applications (e.g. medicine, finance, climate change)—given that nothing is certain! Marie’s work draws from the literature in social and cognitive psychology but also from linguistics and mostly uses experimental methodologies.
Miroslav Sirota (PhD, cognitive psychology) is Lecturer in Psychology at the Faculty of Science and Health at the University of Essex. In his research, he is trying to understand how people estimate, judge, reason, and make decisions in situations of uncertainty and risk, how people do these ‘on their own’ and ‘in the presence of the others’, ‘in the lab’ and ‘in the wild’. His recent research focused on improving health risk communication between health carers and the public, and diagnostic and management decision-making of family physicians.
Jean-François Bonnefon (PhD, cognitive psychology) is Research Director at the Toulouse School of Economics (France). He is affiliated with the Toulouse School of Management Research, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse. He studies the rational mind in its various manifestations: reasoning, decision-making, and morality. His recent research applies the insights of moral psychology and behavioural economics to the new challenges of machine ethics and human-AI cooperation.
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