Second round of Short-term Collaboration Program has started!

We are happy to announce that the Short-term collaboration program of the 2nd period of has started. The Steering Board has selected the following projects for funding:

  • An Experimental Investigation of Anti-presuppositions
    Nadine Bade (ObTrEx, Tübingen) and Florian Schwarz (U Pennsylvania)
  • The role of world-knowledge in setting imprecise standards for absolute gradable adjectives: Probabilistic Modeling
    Petra Schumacher (InfoPer2, Cologne), Barbara Tomaszewicz (InfoPer2, Cologne), Michael Franke (Pro3, Tübingen), Judith Degen (Pro3, Stanford University) and Daniel Lassiter (Stanford University)
  • Combining EEG and virtual reality to investigate the processing of quantifiers and scalar implicatures in the context of partial information
    Maria Spychalska (ImplPer, Cologne) and David Peeters (MPI Nijmegen)

More information on the projects’ plans can be found here!

Three questions to intern Alice Rees

From October 2017 to January 2018, Alice Rees is an intern in the project “InfoPer2: Processing speaker’s meaning: Epistemic state, cooperation, commitment“ at the University of Cologne, supervised by Petra Schumacher. Alice is a final year PhD student at the School of Psychology at Cardiff University. The topic of her dissertation project is “Structural priming of pragmatic enrichment.”

Alice ReesQ: Alice, how would you describe the topic of your doctoral thesis in three sentences to your grandmother?
A: My thesis looks at how people make inferences and how the preceding context affects this. I’ve been looking at how deriving an inference influences subsequent interpretations and whether this also influences a speaker’s choice to make use of inferences.
Q: What led you to apply for an internship in our program ?
A: I was really keen to learn EEG and this internship offered the perfect opportunity. I also wanted to work in a different lab so the internship program was ideal.
Q: Your internship has been running for a while now. How do you like it? Does it meet your expectations?
A: I love it. I am having a great time and learning so much. It has exceeded my expectations.

Call for submissions to the workshop “Scalar Implicatures: Formal and Experimental Exploration”

On July 11-13, 2018 the workshop “Scalar Implicatures: Formal and Experimental Exploration” will take place at the University of Siena, Italy. The workshop is organized by associate Salvatore Pistoia-Reda (ZAS Berlin, U Siena), coordinator Uli Sauerland (ZAS Berlin), associate Filippo Domaneschi (U Genoa for and Valentina Bianchi (U Siena). Deadline for submissions is May 1st, 2018. More details and the call for papers can be found here!

Talk by member Cornelia Ebert at ZAS Berlin

On November 15th, at 3:30 p.m. member Cornelia Ebert from project “PSIMS” at ZAS Berlin will give a talk on “Temporal sequence and information status” (with special attention on the interplay of gesture and speech) at ZAS Berlin, room 403.

The temporal sequence of verbal expressions as well as the temporal alignment of gesture and speech is decisive for the information status of the involved expressions. It is by now established that, while appositives are generally seen as contributing non-at-issue, sentence-final appositive clauses are much easier to be interpreted at-issue than sentence-medial ones (AnderBois et al. 2014; Koev2013). Similarly, the temporal synchronization of gesture and speech is not without consequences (cf.Esipova 2017). I will argue that while co-speech gestures are non-at-issue by default (Ebert & Ebert 2014; Schlenker 2016), post-speech gestures are more likely to be interpreted at issue (pace Schlenker 2016). I propose a continuous scale of self-contained gesture interpretation: gestures that have their own time slot are interpreted at issue; the less they are synchronized with speech the more likely it is that they will be interpreted as at issue material(cf. Kendon’s continuum, Kendon 1980). Furthermore I will discuss the possibility and systematic means to shift information from the non-at-issue dimension to the at-issue dimension and vice versa. I will focus my attention on the relationship between gesture and speech and argue that language provides different means of initiating dimension shifting.

An impressive number of members presenting at the Kick-off-Workshop “Cognitive Semantics and Quantities” in Amsterdam

There are several members presenting at the Kick-off workshop of the recently started ERC project on “Cognitive Semantics and Quantities”, which is leaded by Jakub Szymanik, who is an Associate professor in the “Institute for Logic, Language and Computation” at the University of Amsterdam. The workshop will be held on September 28th and 29th. More details can be found here:

On Thursday, September 28 at 11:40 associate Stephanie Solt (ZAS Berlin) will give a talk with the title “Do quantifiers count?”. In the afternoon at 14:40, Mercator Fellow Napoleon Katsos (Cambridge University) will talk on “How children learn `some,’ `all,’ and `most,’ words”, followed by Principal Investigator Olivier Bott from project “CiC” in Tübingen, who will talk about “Empty-Set Effects in Quantifier Interpretation” at 14:40.

On Friday, 29th at 14:40, Principal Investigator Maria Spychalska from project “ImpliPer” at the University of Cologne will talk on “Pragmatic effects on the processing of quantifiers.” Afterwards, member Barbara Tomaszewicz from project “InfoPer” in Cologne will give a talk on “Proportional and Superlative ‘Most’ in Visual Verification Tasks”

Exciting week 2017 in Cologne

The University of Cologne hosted the annual meeting on September 18th and 19th followed by a three-day methods workshop in Experimental Pragmatics. This year’s meeting was special because it was the final meeting of the first phase our program and at the same time the kick-off for the second phase. Project groups of the first phase have presented their remarkable results while the projects of the second phase have introduced their plans for the next three years resulting in a total of 12 talks and 15 posters. The meeting was opened with an exciting talk by first phase’s mercator fellow Jesse Snedeker (Harvard University) titled “Where does recursion come from? Evidence from an emerging sign language“. A second invited talk was given by Kai Vogeley on “Neural Mechanisms of Intersubjectivity“. On Tuesday afternoon, the Programme Director Humanities and Social Sciences 2: Social and Behavioural Sciences of the German Research Foundation (DFG) Helga Weyerts-Schweda gave an overview of the funding opportunities offered by the DFG. Overall, these were two busy days with exciting presentations and many fruitful discussions leading to first plans for collaboration between various projects.

The second half of the week featured a methods workshop on new developments in experimental methods and their links to pragmatic theory. More specifically, member Judith Degen (Stanford University) gave an introductory course on “Probabilistic pragmatics and the Rational Speech Act framework”. Mercator Fellow Lyn Frazier (U Mass Amherst) gave a series of lectures on language processing, in particular the processing of non-at-issue content and the pragmatics of ellipsis among others. The third course held by Mercator Fellow Napoleon Katsos (University of Cambridge) addressed the acquisition of pragmatic competence. The workshop slides can be found here. A further event was an interactive workshop on gender and diversity in academia to prepare researches for related challenges in their role as principal investigator or professor held by Monika Schoop (U Cologne). The methods workshop was a great success attracting more than 50 attendees from all across Europe.