Exploring the Interfaces 2:
Implicatures, Alternatives, and
the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface
May 23 - 25, 2013
The McGill Syntactic Interfaces Research Group (McSIRG) will hold the second of three international workshops exploring the interfaces. This year's workshop will take place May 23 - 25, 2013, at The Thomson House, located on the McGill University campus.
Research on generative linguistics has traditionally assumed a modular organization of the basic levels of linguistic representation: syntactic representations reflect sentence structure, morphological representations deal with word internal structure, phonological representations with the properties of the sound system, and semantics with meanings. In recent years, the connection between these modules (the so-called grammatical interfaces) has been subject to intense scrutiny. The McGill Syntactic Interfaces Research Group (McSIRG) (Profs. Alonso-Ovalle, Newell, Piggott, Schwarz, Shimoyama, Travis, and Wagner, in alphabetical order), funded by a grant from Quebec's Fonds de Recherche Societé et Culture (FQRSC) (Programme Soutien aux Équipes de Recherche Grant 144646, principal investigator: Lisa Travis), has been actively engaged in the past years in the investigation of the properties of grammatical interfaces.
The research activity of McSIRG is organized around three axes:
Last year, McSIRG organized a workshop to probe into the current state of affairs of the topics investigated under Axis I. (See here for details.)
This year, McSIRG is organizing a second, three-day workshop focusing on the topics investigated under Axis III. A central goal of Axis III is the investigation of the semantics/pragmatics interface: the relation between the grammatical modules responsible for the computation of literal (semantic) and non-literal (pragmatic) meanings. This topic has received great attention in the recent semantic literature through the investigation of the computation of a particular type of non-literal meanings, the so-called conversational implicatures, inferences that are drawn on the basis of literal meanings together with the assumptions about the rational behavior of speakers. In recent years, research on the computation of conversational implicatures has widened its traditional empirical domain by considering new data that challenges established views on the semantics/pragmatic interfaces. Probing into this new data has pushed forward a methodological shift that favors adopting experimental research methods in the study of pragmatics. The overall goal of the second McSIRG workshop is to evaluate the justification for these paradigm shifts.