Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Pragmatics and Semantics (ETAPS)

The ETAPS project addresses six open questions of current research on semantics and pragmatics: 1) presupposition projection and the interaction of presupposition and implicature, 2) formal models of vagueness such as supervaluations and fuzzy logic and their interaction with sentence semantics, 3) the status of variables especially in the role of positions/indices in the light of sign language and gestural data, 4) question embedding across languages and the semantic properties of embedded questions, 5) indexicality and embedding, especially indexical shift across languages, and 6) quantificational adverbs and the borderline between determiner and adverbial quantification for example with proportional quantifiers such as "Die Vorstellung wurde von zwei Drittel Journalisten besucht" / "Ce film a été vu par deux tiers de journalistes".

In several of these areas members of the Paris team and the Berlin team have disagreed on the best analysis in the past: e.g. for presupposition projection Spector & Sudo (2015) advocate Strong Kleene semantics, but Mayr & Sauerland (2015, Proc. Amsterdam Colloq.) argue for noncontextual domain restrictions, for vagueness Egré and Sauerland debated competing models in the J. of Philos. Logic (Cobreros, Egré et al 2012, 2013, Alxatib, Pagin & Sauerland 2013). On all six topics, our debates have remained unresolved up to now because only new experimental evidence could decisively speak to them.

In the present project, we approach these six areas jointly in the spirit of an adversarial collaboration. In an adversarial collaboration ideally two researchers who hold opposing views jointly design and then carry out a study that would decide the critical issue to both researchers satisfaction. Early stage researchers may also suggest additional topics of investigation based on their interest. The participants of the project split for part for the project into at least six workgroups each consisting of both established and early stage researchers from both countries. Each workgroup will take up a cutting edge and controversial issue within current semantic research, narrow down specific predictions of two opposing theoretical views, and design and carry out one or more experimental studies to resolve the debate, and then jointly publish the findings. In this way, we expect that the project will substantially help to advance the field of semantics/pragmatics with a set of high-quality contributions, and further establish the Paris and Berlin groups as leading centers in semantics and pragmatics resarch.

Participants from ZAS: Sauerland (PI), Krifka, Mayr, Nicolae, Solt, Yatsushiro, and five other early stage researchers

Participants from Paris: Gehrke (PI), Chemla, Egré, Spector, Schlenker, Burnett, Paperno, Križ, Cremers


DAAD Projekt 57316845




PD Dr. Uli Sauerland (PI ZAS) & Dr. Berit Gehrke (PI Paris)