Presuppositions are a central problem in natural language semantics, which centers around two main questions:
- Triggering Problem: why are the inferences triggered by some expressions treated as presuppositions rather than, say, at-issue entailments?
- Projection Problem: how are the presuppositions of complex sentences inherited from the presuppositions of their component parts and the way they are put together?
Most research has centered on the Projection Problem. In the 1980’s, the analysis of ‘presupposition projection’ led to the development of a new and more powerful type of semantics, called ‘dynamic semantics’. In recent years, various alternatives (some of them pragmatic, some of them not) were developed within non-dynamic semantics. We will provide an introduction to this debate, first by developing an explicit dynamic semantics for presuppositions, and then by considering various alternatives to it, including ones developed within bivalent or trivalent logics. The database will include traditional data, experimental data, and also gestural inferences that enrich the debate (they pertain to presupposition-like inferences that are arguably triggered by co-speech gestures).
In the first week, you will learn about core notions of statistics. The second goal is to learn how to do basics in R such as creating scripts, accessing information in data frames, plotting and calculating descriptive statistics.
The second week is devoted to basic and advanced methods of inferential statistics. We will start out with non-parametric tests, correlations and regression modeling. Another session is devoted to t-tests and ANOVA. Then we move to linear and logit mixed models. You will learn about contrast coding, model comparison and current conventions concerning model fitting. Throughout the entire course, we will allow time for questions concerning your own data sets.
People gesture while they speak. They move their hands and arms in certain ways to accompany their speech. For example, in a route description as in (1)
- Then you will come by a church
the speaker can indicate the shape of the steeples with her hands. To do that, the stroke of the gesture will most naturally synchronize with speech in that it will align with the word that it modifies and the syllable that is stressed most (i.e. “CHURCH”). In this example, the co-speech gesture would be an iconic one, one that indicates the shape of the steeples. Interestingly, the speaker can convey information by means of this gesture that is not included in the speech signal, for example the fact that the church has two steeples, e.g. by indicating the two steeples with her two hands. After having heard (1) and having observed the co-speech gesture, the listener will know that she will pass a church and that this church has two steeples.
- Austin, J. L. (1955): How to do things with words. The William James Lectures delivered at Harvard University (1955). Clarendon Press: Oxford.
- Schleicher, A. (1863): Die Darwinsche Theorie und die Sprachwissenschaft. Offenes Sendschreiben an Herrn Dr. Ernst Haeckel. Hermann Böhlau: Weimar.
In this seminar, we will discuss the thesis that language includes a deductive system to draw inferences from the structures. In current linguistics work, this thesis is often referred to as the «Logicality of Language» proposal (cf. e.g. Gajewski 2008; Chierchia 2013. Cf. also von Fintel 1993). Main evidence in favour of this proposal includes observation that some analytic sentences result in ungrammaticality effects, arguably on account of their analytic status. In our discussion, we will present the proposal in some details, including with formal analysis of the crucial cases. In addition, we will provide a philosophical analysis of the notion of analyticity and we will try to connect the logicality proposal with classical discussion on analyticity (cf. e.g. Carnap 1936; Quine 1960. Cf. Chierchia 2013). In the second part of the seminar, we will discuss scalar implicatures. This phenomenon, traditionally understood as being an exemplum of Gricean reasoning (cf. Grice 1989; Horn 1989; Geurts 2010), has been recently reassigned to the semantic level of composition (cf. Chierchia 2006; Fox 2007; Chierchia et al. 2012). We will discuss the interaction between grammatical approaches to scalar implicatures and the logicality of language proposal. Special emphasis will be put on the contextual blindness of scalar implicatures, i.e. the property whereby scalar implicatures do not access to contextual knowledge and, as a result, contextual contradiction can be generated as scalar implicatures.
Language is a powerful tool. It not only conveys information, but changes social relations. This includes the capacity to harm others, which will be the focus of this course. We will cover pejoratives, slurs, hate speech, sexist and racist language, generics, and code words such as ‘dogwhistles’. Because of the nature of the topic, the course will take the approach of philosophy of language rather than one based on formal semantics.
We will cover the following questions:
- How shall we theorise about the role of attitude-expression and their place with respect to the semantics/pragmatics distinction?
- What kind of speech-acts are performed with slurring acts, sexist speech and generic speech?
- What role does such speech play in oppression and what does this tell us about the nature of meaning?
- How does slurring speech contribute to imposing and reinforcing imbalanced power relations?
For many scholars, pragmatics is a component of the linguistic system that allows us to deal with the interpretation of a given sentence through some well-defined rules or constraints. For others, pragmatics is an exercise in mind-reading, by which the hearer infers the speaker’s intended meaning. It is this latter view, especially, that takes one beyond linguistics and into the cognitive sciences more generally. This view also justifies presenting experimental pragmatics as a cognitive science that adopts approaches from its more fundamental forebears.
The course will discuss the relationship between pragmatics and other cognitive sciences by presenting their historical connections as well as their intersection in the study of human cognition and communication. The course will discuss the way in which pragmatic inference interacts with reasoning and social cognition (Theory of Mind, epistemic vigilance, group cognition) by focusing on a series of different pragmatic phenomena, such as scalar inferences, conditionals and figurative uses of language.