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

Organizers:
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

Description:
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.