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XPrag Meets Historical Pragmatics

Workshop organized as part of the SPP 1727 "XPrag.de: New Pragmatic Theories based on Experimental Evidence" in Cologne, Germany, November 14-15, 2016.


Organizers: Gerhard Jäger (Tübingen), Ira Noveck (CNRS Lyon) & Petra B. Schumacher (Cologne) 

In 2014, Eitan Grossman and Ira Noveck organized a first roundtable “Historical linguistics meets experimental pragmatics” in Jerusalem, which brought together researchers working on pragmatic approaches to language change and on experimental pragmatics.  This triggered discussion of potential links between semantic change that is motivated by pragmatic principles on the one hand and the processing of pragmatic operations on the other hand.

We would like to host another meeting in this tradition, bringing together historical linguists and experimentally oriented researchers with the aim of exchanging ideas and hypotheses from the different disciplines and identifying areas of interest for joined research. Semantic but also grammatical change has been associated with principles of language use; for example meaning alternations may start out within a focused group of users and the initially specialized meaning may, across time, be adopted by the entire speech community (Koch 2004). These different stages of dispersion and language use may be reflected in the underlying processes (cf. Schumacher 2013, 2015 for lexicalized vs. ad-hoc alternations).  Psycholinguistic investigation may also inform the directionality of semantic change (Jäger & Rosenbach 2008). The interplay between linguistic form, pragmatic function and language processing may thus open up new avenues for the study of language in use from which both disciplines (historical pragmatics and experimental pragmatics) may benefit.

Invited Participants:  

Billy Clark (Middlesex University London)

Johannes Dellert (Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen)

Ashwini Deo (Ohio State University) ***canceled***

Eitan Grossman (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Gareth Roberts (University of Pennsylvania)


Venue: Klosterstrasse 79b


Sunday, Nov. 13

7 pm

Informal get-together



Restaurant Café Im Bauturm

(Aachener Straße 24, 50674 Cologne)




Monday, Nov. 14

2 pm



2:30 pm

Gerhard Jäger (University of Tübingen)



Talk: „Data driven estimation of directional biases in semantic change“


3:30 pm

Coffee break


4 pm

Hanna Weiland-Breckle (University of Cologne)



Talk: „Why psycholinguists should be interested in Wacken“


5 pm

Johannes Dellert (University of Tübingen)



Talk: „Synchronic Lexical Associations and the Directionality of Semantic Change“


7 pm

Workshop Dinner



Weinstube Bacchus

(Rathenauplatz 17, 50674 Köln)




Tuesday, Nov. 15

10 am

Ans van Kemenade (Radboud University Nijmegen) ***canceled***



Talk: „Word Order Change Online: Language Change, Second Language Acquisition, Computational Modelling and Simulation“


11 am

Gareth Roberts (University of Pennsylvania)



Talk: „Language change and the pragmatics of social meaning: An Experimental Semiotic approach“


12 am

Lunch break


2 pm

Billy Clark (Middlesex University London)



Talk: „Relevance theory and semantic change



Eitan Grossmann (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)  



Talk: TBA


3 pm

Coffee Break


3:30 pm

Open discussion