July 8 to July 19, 2019

Speech Acts 2019

While communicating, people not only exchange information, they also deal with linguistic utterances and thus regulate social coexistence. This activity includes very different acts such as informing, asking, requesting, promising or baptizing, which sometimes have very different constitutive properties. Since the groundbreaking work of Austin and Searle in the 1960s, speech acts have been an established research topic of pragmatics, which is now once again moving to the forefront of recent linguistic investigation. The interaction of sentence type, sentence mood and illocution, the form and function of different illocutionary indicators (such as sentence types, particles and intonation) and the formal modeling of sentence type, sentence mood and speech act play a central role at the interface between semantics and pragmatics. In addition, there is an increased interest in a broad empirical-experimental foundation of these models within the framework of more recent developments in experimental pragmatics. One last important point is the research of the basics of our linguistic activity against the background of current developments in the field of political communication, as the discussions about lies, fake news and bullshit show.

This Summer School was part of a series of Summer Schools in Linguistics devoted to current theoretical and empirical advancements in Linguistic Research. Topics of previous Summer Schools were:


In the first week, in addition to the courses held by lecturers from Göttingen, an overview of the state of research is offered with two basic courses on syntax-semantics and semantics-pragmatics. The first course "Interaction, Appraisal, and Grammar" was given by Jonathan Ginzburg (Paris-Diderot) and will deal with the interaction of sentence type and sentence mood. The second course “Public commitments, meaning and speech acts” by Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford) built on this and shed more light on the relationship between sentence mood and illocution. Both courses focused on formal modeling of sentence type, sentence mood and speech act in syntax, semantics and pragmatics.
In the second week, two special topics were dealt with in advanced and in-depth courses on “Information Structure and Sentence Types” and “Experimental approaches to speech acts”. The course “Information Structure and Sentence Types” by Silvio Cruschina (Helsinki) focused on the relationship between syntax, information structure and speech acts. The second course “Experimental approaches to speech acts” by Berry Claus (Berlin) focused on the one hand on recent relevant work in the field of experimental pragmatics and on the other hand on the formal modeling of results at the interface between semantics and pragmatics.

Additionally, in a seminar-like activity, specific thematic contents of the summer school, predefined by the lecturers, were discussed on the basis of input presentations by the participants. Participants had the opportunity to present their own work individually and to discuss it with experts. This format offered the opportunity to discuss problems and perspectives of one’s own research and career planning as well as general questions about experiments, presentations, publications and funding possibilities.

Finally, social activities such as the welcome reception, the guided tours etc. served on the one hand to introduce Göttingen and its scientific tradition, as well as to get to know each other, and on the other hand to promote (intercultural) exchange in a sociable environment.


  • Prof. Dr. Jonathan Ginzburg (Paris-Diderot)
  • Prof. Dr. Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford, CA)
  • Prof. Dr. Silvio Cruschina (Helsinki)
  • Prof. Dr. Berry Claus (HU Berlin)
  • Prof. Dr. Anke Holler (Göttingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Marco Coniglio (Göttingen)
  • Prof. Dr. Markus Steinbach (Göttingen)


Prof. Dr. Marco Coniglio, Seminar für Deutsche Philologie

Prof. Dr. Anke Holler, Seminar für Deutsche Philologie, Courant Research Centre "Text Structures"

Prof. Dr. Markus Steinbach, Seminar für Deutsche Philologie

This Summer School was supported financially by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds provided by the German Federal Foreign Office.