When a person sits down to work on a crossword puzzle the thought probably does not cross their mind that they are calling on various forms of linguistic knowledge in solving the crossword clues. The majority of basic language knowledge and usage is an unconscious phenomenon. It has been said that people "take language for granted because it comes so quickly and automatically." As a result of this unconscious nature of language people rarely give consideration to the actual linguistic process of how they answer the questions that crossword clues pose. However, to anyone who studies linguistics, it seems obvious that there is a connection between crossword puzzles and semantics.
[...] Where crossword puzzles are concerned, pragmatics can be viewed as the ability of the solver to interpret correctly the meaning or sense the constructor had in mind when writing a clue. When a clue appears as a single word without other words to give it a context, the puzzle itself can be thought of as the context. Oftentimes, even a multi-word clue can leave open more than one interpretation of the meaning or sense of the clue and this is part of the art of writing clues. [...]
[...] A lot says Michigan Tech grad and linguist. Electronic document, http://www.sas.it.mtu.edu/urel/breaking/2002/linguist.html, accessed October Gramley, Stephan 2001 The Vocabulary of World English. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. Kurzban, Stan and Mel Rosen 1981 The Compleat Cruciverbalist Or How to Solve and Compose Crossword Puzzles for Fun and Profit. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company McKean, Erin 2001 Verbatim. New York: Harcourt, Inc. Pinker, Steven 1994 The Language Instinct. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. Pinker, Steven 1999 Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. New York: [...]
[...] To be sure, the ambiguities in crossword puzzles are a large part of the semantic and mental workout for people, however, people are naturally adept at disambiguating both spoken and written language. Why is it that computers are not as adept. What do humans have that computers don't? Crossword Puzzles and Artificial Intelligence Proverb, short for “probabilistic cruciverbalist” is the name of the crossword-solving program mentioned earlier in the paper. On average, Proverb is able to fill in 95% of the correct letters in a New York Times crossword puzzle.[?] This may not sound too shabby, but what keeps the program from attaining 100% accuracy? [...]
[...] Choose answer for grid Conclusion For most people, the linguistic process involved in answering the questions crossword clues pose will remain an unconscious phenomenon, however the connection between crossword puzzles and semantics does exist and is obviously a strong one. The analysis of clue types and the cognitive steps a person goes through in solving a clue along with the definitions of the corresponding semantic concepts included in this paper should bring to consciousness the key role of an individuals semantic knowledge in their ability to solve a crossword puzzle. [...]
[...] Prototype Semantics and Memory The reason prototype categories are so semantically useful in solving crossword puzzles has much to do with memory and the way the brain functions. It has been shown that categorization increases recall and recall is better for high frequency associates to the category name than items low in the associative norms.[?] High frequency associates, as the term is used in the previous sentence, should be recognized to mean the more prototypical members of a category. In addition, long term human memory relies mostly on semantic coding, as opposed to short term memory, which relies more on phonemic coding. [...]
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