HSE Semantics & Pragmatics Workshop
On September 30 - October 1, 2016, an international Semantics & Pragmatics Workshop was held at HSE. The event was organized by the School of Linguistics, the School of Philosophy and the Formal Philosophy Research Group.
Linguists, logicians, philosophers, and neuroscientists from Russia, the UK, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, France, and the United States took part in the event.
Bart Geurts, Professor at the Department of Philosophy, University of Nijmegen opened the workshop with his report ‘Speech Acts and Cognitive Development’. According to the Geurts’ hypothesis, children develop the skill of attribution of obligations that is critical in social interaction. The skills of attribution of intentions and beliefs and even more complex communicative competence are developed on the basis of this skill.
Barbara Partee, Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Linguistics and Philosophy at the Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, spoke on the history of formal pragmatics, starting from Aristotelian logic.
Katherine Fraser, graduate student from the University of Stuttgart, presented a report on ‘Sitting and Waiting: Idle Meanings of an English Posture Verb’ in which she covered the results of a corpus study of English posture verbs (such as ‘sit’, ‘lie’, ‘stand’, etc.)
In her report ‘Spatial Measures, Special Measures’ Ora Matushansky (SFL (Paris 8/CNRS) /Utrecht University) developed the topic of regular semantic changes through the example of prepositions which describe spatial relationships (over, around, under, between, etc.)
Yury Shtyrov (Aarhus University) spoke on ‘Automaticity in Language Comprehension: Neurophysiological Evidence’. The report covers neurophysiological experiments aimed at the study of how people automatically learn new words, and the effectiveness of experimental techniques involving noise, distracting stimuli, and repetitive pseudo words.
Bob Beddor and Simon Goldstein from Rutgers University presented a report on ‘Epistemic Modals in Belief Reports’. The authors analyzed situations in which an agent simultaneously holds certain beliefs and at the same time thinks that this belief may be false.
Fabien Schang (HSE Faculty of Humanities) offered an original analysis of humorous remarks as a particular type of speech act (laughative speech-act) in his report ‘Why Are You Laughing? On the Semantics of Humour’.
Paul Weingartner, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Salzburg, dedicated his report ‘Knowledge as Possesing Epistemic Entropy and Epistemic Information’ to the traditional problem of knowledge definition. He considered a few classical approaches to the definition of knowledge (knowledge as justified true opinion, knowledge as the ability to prove, knowledge as the ability to check, knowledge as true direct objective attainment, etc.), and suggested his own interpretation of this concept.