Tutorials, NYU, May 29, 2014
(in conjunction with SALT 24, May 30 - June 1st, 2014 at NYU)
organized jointly by the ERC Advanced Grant Project ‘New Frontiers of Formal Semantics’
and New York University
Kathryn Davidson (Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale)
Jeremy Kuhn (Graduate Student, NYU)
Itamar Kastner (Graduate Student, NYU)
Methods of formal semantics have recently been extended beyond the realm of spoken language. These tutorials are intended to give a snapshot of two new research directions: the formal semantics of sign languages; and the formal semantics of pictures, gestures and diagrams. While the former direction pertains to human language and the latter doesn’t, we believe that researchers from these fields can benefit from each other’s work. First, it has long been established that sign languages share the general formal properties (phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic) of other human languages, and that they have a key role to play in studies of linguistic universals – which they sometimes illuminate in a new way due to the unique properties of the signed modality. But sign languages also have an iconic dimension which is only beginning to be captured in formal studies of meaning; some of the formal tools developed in research on pictures, gestures and diagrams might prove helpful in this endeavor. One key theoretical question lies in the relation between iconic and grammatical rules in sign language: are they separate systems that happen to coexist in the same modality, or are they integrated within one unified system – and if so what does that tell us about Universal Grammar? Second, researchers on pictures, gestures and diagrams have emphasized the rich semantic content of these mediums, and they have sometimes attempted to devise logical systems to capture them. But sign languages have a considerably richer logical structure (at least as rich as that of spoken languages), one which undoubtedly has a gestural/pictorial/diagrammatic component – and which could thus serve as a useful point of comparison for these non-linguistic studies.
Note: For financial reasons, the tutorials are all given by researchers working in the US at the time of the meeting.
Registration: please register here if you wish to attend. Registration is free (but we need to have an estimate of the number of people who will attend).
Venue: All talks will occur at New York University; the workshop room is yet to be announced. Further information on the venue can be found here.
ASL interpreting and CART captioning will be provided for all talks.
Program (PROVISIONAL schedule)