Göttingen fall school in linguistics 2021

Anaphora and presuppositions

Dates: August 30 – September 4, 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 four-day-long course (Monday to Thursday) 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. Students will all take course 1 and moreover select one from courses 2 to 4. On Friday and Saturday an international workshop on the topic will take place. For this workshop an open call will be issued. The students accepted to the fall school are encouraged to submit abstracts for the workshop. They are guaranteed a poster presentation as a minimum. Moreover, the fall school will feature a social and cultural program.

Insofar as predictions are possible at this point in time (February 2021), the school will mostly likely use a hybrid model, integrating both online and offline formats for teaching and talks. If worse comes to worst the school will happen in a fully online format. That being said, we will strive to have as much of this school in Göttingen as possible. All the planning takes social distancing measures into account thereby guaranteeing as much safety as possible to participants. Applicants who get accepted but might not be allowed to travel for some reason will be invited to join the school online regardless of how much of the school can take place offline.

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)

Accommodation, expenses, fees:
Students will be accommodated in single rooms at Leine-Hotel close to the town center. Accommodation costs are fully covered. Moreover, there is the possibility for (partial) reimbursement of travel costs. There are no participation fees for this fall school.

Who can apply:
Students holding at least a BA in linguistics or a closely related field; background in formal semantics/pragmatics is an asset.

Deadline for applications: March 21, 2021

Notification of acceptance: first half of April 2021

How to apply:
Send a short at most one-page CV and a half page describing why you would like to be part of this fall school (preferably in one document). Send your applications to the following address:
Ms Jessica Fenske-Schöbitz
Email: jessica.fenske@uni-goettingen.de

Inquiries: Any inquiries should be directed to jessica.fenske@uni-goettingen.de as well.

Accommodation, expenses, fees:
Students from abroad will be accommodated in rooms at Leine-Hotel close to the town center. Their Accommodation costs are fully covered. Moreover, there is the possibility for (partial) reimbursement of travel costs for foreign students. German students, while very welcome to apply, are not eligible for financial aid including housing costs. There are no participation fees for this fall school.

Course descriptions:
Course 1: Introduction to Dynamic Semantics (instructor: Sudo) In this course we will discuss dynamic aspects of semantics and pragmatics, especially focusing on anaphora (Lectures 1 and 2) and presupposition projection (Lectures 3 and 4). We will introduce different versions of dynamic semantics as analytical tools for understanding these phenomena in natural language. No prior familiarity with dynamic semantics is required.

Course 2: Logophoricity and the semantics of attitude reports (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 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.