Göttingen fall school in linguistics 2021

Anaphora and presuppositions

Dates: August 30 – September 3, 2021
Location: University of Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

The fall school brings together research on two broad empirical phenomena: anaphora and presuppositions. At one point, these phenomena were seen to be subject to similar constraints and therefore necessitate parallel accounts, in particular in the literature on DRT/dynamic semantics. This view has lost some of its appeal over the years due to the observation that certain fundamental assumptions found in the literature are not fully explanatory. Because of these diverging paths in accounting for the properties of the two kinds of phenomena, the mentioned parallelisms between them have not been satisfyingly treated. Recently, the debate how closely anaphora and presuppositions are related has therefore resurfaced.

Four renowned researchers from outside Göttingen each teach one five-day-long course (Monday to Friday) on anaphora and presuppositions (for course descriptions see bottom) with local faculty providing comments and input for discussion. The language of instruction is English. There are both theoretical and experimental courses covering the topic from cross-linguistic and cross-modular perspectives. There will be two parallel sessions. The first from 4 to 5pm Göttingen time, the second from 5:30 to 6:30pm Göttingen time. Students will each select one course from parallel session 1 and one from parallel session 2. The courses will all be online with at least two courses planned to feature a hybrid model. Moreover, the fall school will feature a limited social program.

Cornelia Ebert (University of Frankfurt)
Gurmeet Kaur (University of Göttingen)
Clemens Mayr (University of Göttingen)
Hazel Pearson (Queen Mary)
Jacopo Romoli (Ulster University)
Markus Steinbach (University of Göttingen)
Yasutada Sudo (University College London)
Hedde Zeijlstra (University of Göttingen)

Inquiries: Any inquiries should be directed to Ms Jessica Fenske jessica.fenske@uni-goettingen.de

Course descriptions:
Course 1: Discourse Referents (instructor: Sudo)
'Discourse referents' are necessary one way or another to understand pronominal anaphora in discourse. In this course we will first review a simple dynamic semantic theory as a model of discourse referents, and then discuss how it can be extended to account for three linguistic phenomena: (i) paycheck pronouns and other 'E-type' pronouns, (ii) plurality, and (iii) scalar implicatures.

Course 2: Logophoricity (instructor: Pearson)
Logophoric pronouns, long-distance reflexives, shifted indexicals and the like make up a class of anaphoric expressions that provide a window onto perspectival phenomena and the semantics of attitude reports. We will survey a cross-linguistic sample of some of these cases and introduce the theoretical tools that have been employed to analyse them. One goal of the course will be to consider how these cases bear on the analysis of so-called 'de se' attitudes first discussed by Lewis (1979) and Perry (1979). In this way, in-depth cross-linguistic investigation sheds light on a classic philosophical debate, while also furthering understanding of anaphoric dependencies as a core topic at the intersection of syntax and semantics.

Course 3: Two approaches to free choice (instructor: Romoli)
As is well known, disjunctions in the scope of possibility modals give rise to a conjunctive inference, generally referred to as `Free choice.' For example, Angie can take Spanish or Calculus suggests that Angie can take Spanish and can take Calculus (and hence that she can `choose' between the two). This inference is problematic, since it is not validated by a classical semantics for modals, in combination with a Boolean analysis of disjunction. Free choice has sparked a whole industry of theories in philosophy of language and formal semantics/pragmatics since the seventies. A theory of free choice should answer questions such as: is free choice part of the semantics of sentences like the one above or does it arise as an extra inference? And what is the status of this reading? How does it interact with other aspects of meaning? There are two main approaches in the literature, differing in particular as to whether they derive free choice as part of the literal meaning of disjunction and modals, or as an extra implicature. This course will outline the two approaches and their divergent predictions and explore how they fare against the various experimental evidence in the literature. In addition, it will discuss the interaction between free choice and presuppositions. The main goal of the course is to enable students to conduct their own experimental or theoretical research on this complex and fascinating topic in semantics/pragmatics.

Course 4: Gesture (instructor: Ebert)
In this course, we will take a closer look at gestures and their semantic potential, in particular that of speech-accompanying gestures. We will discuss current formal semantic approaches of gesture semantics and investigate different types of gestures, and different ways of alignment of gesture and speech. We will mainly be concerned with current formal semantic theories that aim at capturing gesture contributions and the question how these theories may further our understanding of the different dimensions of meaning. This includes discussions of the question how the semantic impact of gestures is handled best – as a specific kind of presupposition (Schlenker 2018) or as conventional implicatures (Ebert & Ebert 2014) – as well as examinations of anaphoric binding phenomena among different dimensions.