Meaning

We are interested in a range of topics relating to meaning, including semantic and pragmatic theory, the semantics-pragmatics interface, information structure, intonational meaning, game-theoretical approaches to pragmatics and their empirical verification, quantification, comparatives, events, number, focus, modality, reference, anaphora, and conditionals. We use a variety of methodologies including:

  • experimental semantics and pragmatics
  • formal semantics and pragmatics, logic, philosophy of language
  • language acquisition
  • psycholinguistics
  • computational methods for extracting semantic information from text
  • cross-linguistic comparison

Lab spaces and resources include:

Gregory Ward's research interests situate themselves along the pragmatics-semantics frontier: identifying and distinguishing between those aspects of meaning that are a function of the linguistic system (semantics) and those that are a function of the use of that system in context (pragmatics). He is the faculty advisor to the Truth Conditional Project, an empirical investigation of the impact that various types of conversational implicature have on the assignment of truth conditions. His other research interests include pragmatic theory, information structure (especially word order variation), intonational meaning, and reference.

Alexis Wellwood studies the relationship between linguistic form and meaning, and between linguistic meaning and the rest of the mind. Her research in semantics focuses on the language we use to express notions of measurement and quantification, in particular the logical contribution of degree words like "more", determiners like "most", and modals like "might". At the interface, she considers how these expressions might be mapped to nonlinguistic systems for representing different types of magnitudes. In language acquisition, she aims to understand the relationship between language learning and regularities in the mapping from syntax to semantics. Often, this research investigates preschoolers' hypotheses about novel words in different syntactic contexts.