InfoPer: Processing speaker’s meaning: Informativeness and perspective

Principal investigator:
Prof. Dr. Petra Schumacher
University of Cologne

Funding period:
2014-2018; continuation of this project is “InfoPer2: Processing speaker’s meaning: Epistemic state, cooperation, commitment”

Project description:
This project seeks to advance our knowledge of the online comprehension of speaker’s meaning, i.e. the identification and if necessary reconstruction of the intentions of the speaker when making a particular utterance. Our research in experimental pragmatics departs from two distinct points of view. The first line of investigation pursues the role of particular pragmatic aspects of speaker’s meaning in language processing, including the notions of informativeness, speaker perspective, context, and truth conditions (as a reflection of the quality maxim). The second line seeks to assess and advance a neuro-cognitively plausible model of language comprehension and its predictions for pragmatic processing. In its current form, the model accounts for referential processing and makes strong claims about pragmatic adjustments resulting in referential shift (cf. Schumacher 2013). The aim of the current research is to extend this model to pragmatic phenomena above and beyond referential processing. We deliberately turn to investigations involving adjective-noun combination because adjectives are a valuable but largely unexplored area of compositionality that allows us to investigate notions of informativeness, perspective, truth conditions and context-dependence as well as non-referential cases of meaning adjustment.