Workshop on “The semantics and pragmatics of gradable adjectives: Integrating perspectives from linguistic theory, psycholinguistics and modeling”

Nicole Gotzner (SIGames, ZAS), Anton Benz (SIGames, ZAS), Barbara Tomaszewicz (InfoPer2, Cologne), Petra Schumacher (InfoPer2, Cologne) and Stephanie Solt (Degree Attenuaters, ZAS)

Time and venue:
May 23-24, 2019 in Cologne

Gradable adjectives give rise to a variety of fascinating semantic and pragmatic effects and this research area is a show case for the integration of formal work with psycholinguistic experimentation (for an overview see for example Castroviejo, McNally & Sassoon, 2018). The study of adjectival semantics includes aspects of vagueness, scale structure, degree semantics, comparison classes, dimensionality and evaluativity, among others. For instance, a distinction is made between relative and absolute gradable adjectives (Kennedy & McNally, 2005; Kennedy, 2007): while the interpretation of relative adjectives like tall depends on a given comparison class, absolute adjectives like bent incorporate a fixed standard (independent of a particular comparison class – but see Tomaszewicz & Schumacher, 2018 for context-dependence of both types of adjectives). Distinctions between different types of adjectives and degree modification have been found to be acquired early in language development (Syrett, 2006; Barner & Snedeker, 2008; Tribushinina & Gillis, 2012). Our understanding of adjectival semantics has also been advanced by psycholinguistic experiments with adults, for example addressing the questions how relative and absolute adjectives are processed (Rips & Turnbull, 1980; Frazier, Stolterfoht & Clifton, 2008; Aparicio, Xiang & Kennedy, 2018), how adults determine the standard of comparison for different adjectives classes (Toledo & Sassoon, 2011; Solt & Gotzner, 2012; McNabb, 2012; Solt, 2016; Liao & Meskin, 2017; Tomaszewicz & Schumacher, 2018) and how comparatives are processed (Tucker, Tomaszewiecz & Wellwood, 2018).
More recently, experimental research has investigated a variety of pragmatic aspects such as imprecision (Leffel, Xiang & Kennedy, 2016), scalar implicatures (van Tiel et al., 2016; Gotzner, Solt & Benz, 2018; Leffel, Cremers, Gotzner & Romoli, forthcoming) and manner implicatures like negative strengthening (Ruytenbeek, Verheyen & Spector, 2017; Gotzner, Solt & Benz, 2018; Tessler & Franke, 2018). The area of vagueness has also been particularly fruitful for computational modeling that integrates insights of semantic and pragmatic theories (Lassiter & Goodman 2013, 2015, 2017; Lassiter, 2015; Qing & Franke, 2014; Tessler & Franke, 2018).
At our workshop, we especially welcome contributions that integrate perspectives from linguistic theory with psycholinguistics and/or modeling. We invite contributions that build on various sources of data (formal work, experiments with children or adults, corpora, modeling). Topics of special interest to the workshop include the following:

  • Degree semantics and gradability
  • Measurement theory and scale structure
  • Comparison classes
  • Vagueness
  • Granularity and Imprecision
  • Evaluativity
  • Different kinds of implicature
  • Polarity
  • Antonyms
  • Color adjectives
  • Predicates of personal taste

Invited speakers:
Michael Franke
Louise McNally
Kristen Syrett
Steven Verheyen

In case you need child care on site please let us know.