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The semantics and pragmatics of gradable adjectives: Integrating perspectives from linguistic theory, psycholinguistics and modeling (XPrag-ADJ19)


Workshop organized as part of the SPP 1727 "XPrag.de: New Pragmatic Theories based on Experimental Evidence" in Cologne, Germany, May 23-24, 2019.

Organizers: Anton Benz (Leibniz-ZAS Berlin), Nicole Gotzner (Leibniz-ZAS Berlin), Petra Schumacher (Cologne) and Stephanie Solt (Leibniz-ZAS Berlin), Barbara Tomaszewicz-Özakın (Cologne)

Scope and goals of the workshop

Gradable adjectives give rise to a variety of fascinating semantic and pragmatic effects and this research area is a showcase 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. 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).

Invited Speakers:  

Michael Franke (Osnabrück)

Louise McNally (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Kristen Syrett (Rutgers University)  

Steven Verheyen (KU Leuven)


Call for abstracts
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


Abstracts must not exceed two pages in PDF format, including examples and references, with 1 inch margins on all sides and 12 point font size. Please make your submission via https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=xpragadj19 by 28th February 2019


For any inquiries, please contact Nicole Gotzner (gotzner( at )leibniz-zas.de) or Barbara Tomaszewiscz-Özakın (btomasze( at )uni-koeln.de)