Semantics & Pragmatics at ICL 2013: Call for Abstracts

Joey Frazee jfrazee at
Wed Jun 20 17:48:15 EDT 2012

Semantics & Pragmatics at ICL
July 22-27, 2013
Geneva, Switzerland

Next summer, during the 19th International Congress of Linguists (ICL), which 
will take place July 22-27, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, there will be an 
extensive session on formal semantics & pragmatics.

We seek original research papers developing new approaches to formal semantics 
and formal pragmatics: experimental and corpus methods, field methods, 
cross-linguistic comparison, and innovative formal frameworks. We particularly 
encourage submissions that develop dynamic and modal techniques beyond their 
traditional domain, especially as related to the cluster of six subtopics 
listed below.

URL for submissions (through the ICL website):
Deadline for abstract submission: August 15, 2012.
Specifications: 500 words (including examples but excluding title and 
Decisions will be communicated in October 2012.

We look forward to an exciting meeting, one that will be enhanced by the 
presence at the ICL of two keynote speakers whose research exemplifies the type 
of work we seek: Angelika Kratzer and Philippe Schlenker. The multi-day session 
on semantics & pragmatics will feature half hour presentations (20 minute talks 
+ 10 minute discussion) and is organized by the founding editors of the journal 
"Semantics & Pragmatics", David Beaver and Kai von Fintel.

1. Domain Restriction

Natural language quantifiers are subject to contextual domain restriction. 
Issues include whether the restriction occurs via covert material in logical 
form or via some parameter of evaluation, the precise location of the 
restriction (on a nominal, on a quantificational operator), and the question of 
whether domain restriction of modals and quantifiers and possibly other 
constructions should be seen as special cases of the same general phenomenon.

2. Evidentiality, modality, conditionals

The semantics of modals and conditionals have long been subjects of scholarly 
controversy, but until relatively recently the related intensional phenomenon 
of evidentiality (the grammatical marking of source or strength of evidence for 
a proposition) was largely overlooked by semanticists. We are interested in 
work that develops our understanding of any of these three types of 
construction, or that explores the similarities and differences between them.

3. Questions and alternatives

While the semantics of questions, and the pragmatic relationship between 
questions and answers, has been an ongoing area of study for forty years, there 
has been a strong renewal of interest in recent years. This interest centers 
around three related areas: (i) the relationship between questions and focus 
marking, (ii) models of discourse structure in terms of strategies for 
answering questions, and (iii) the advent of the framework of Inquisitive 
Semantics, which extends ideas developed in the context of question semantics 
to a wider range of constructions. We seek proposals that develop question 
semantics in any of these directions.

4. Desiderative constructions

Maintaining our general theme of extending dynamic and modal techniques beyond 
their traditional domain, we are seeking work that sheds light on a wider range 
of constructions, and a wider range of speech-act types, than had been achieved 
in a traditional, classical semantics. One important sub-area is desiderative 
constructions, broadly speaking those constructions that express desire, and 
which we take to include imperatives, optatives, and desiderative attitudes 
such as "want".

5. Formal approaches to politeness

We understand "politeness" in Brown and Levinson's sense as including not only 
traditional honorific marking, but also the more general issue of how 
linguistic form reflects the pragmatics of social relationships. A classic 
example, connecting with Topic 4, is the many forms of expression (direct or 
indirect) of the expression of commands and requests. Politeness issues have 
also come to the fore both because they appear to demand a dynamic, strategic 
view of communication, and because explicit marking of politeness often 
involves information that is conventionalized and yet apparently 
non-truth-conditional, hence posing a problem for traditional semantic methods.

6. Presupposition and Conventional Implicature

Presupposition and Conventional Implicature are among the drivers of work that 
pushes away from a classical conception of meaning. Of particular note is the 
tendency of both Presuppositions and Conventional Implicatures to exhibit 
"projection", which occurs when an inference associated with a construction 
survives even after the construction is embedded within a larger construction 
that would tend to block inferences associated with ordinary truth-conditional 
content. A simple example, (cf. Topic 5) is the way that deference exhibited by 
a use of a polite form in a clause is maintained even when that clause is 
embedded under negation. We seek papers that explore the question of how 
projective inferences should be explained, what causes projection in the first 
place, and what the similarities and differences are between different 
constructions that manifest such behavior.

More information about the HPSG-L mailing list