Research interests

I am a linguist and a philosopher. My interests lie in the area of semantics (mostly truth-conditional), pragmatics (mostly Gricean), philosophy of language, philosophy of time, and metaphysics of time. I can define myself as a post-Gricean pragmaticist, truth-conditional semanticist of a dynamic semantics orientation, and a supporter of contextualism in the representation of meaning, i. e. the idea that the interesting truth conditions are those of an utterance rather than a sentence: information from pragmatic inference and other contextual input contributes to the truth-conditional content. My other project concerns representation of time of language and discourse and how it relates to the human concept of time and the metaphysics of time.

I am interested in modelling of the process of meaning construction in discourse that takes into account the intentionality of acts of communication as well as the compositional character of meaning. I work mainly on the semantics of propositional attitude constructions and other intensional contexts; referring expressions; semantic ambiguity and underspecification; semantics/pragmatics interface; the saying/implicating distinction, and defaults in communication. In my theory of Default Semantics (OUP, 2005, pb 2007), I implemented the dynamic semantic approach of Discourse Representation Theory to a wide category of acts of communication, accounting for the pragmatic origin of some components of truth-conditional meaning as proposed in truth-conditional pragmatics. My long-term project stemming from this theory concerns mapping of various aspects of meaning of acts of communication onto relevant processes and modelling their interaction.

One of my recent projects concerned semantic representation of time. In Representing Time (OUP, 2009), I developed an account of temporality understood as epistemic modality: a degree of detachment from the situation conveyed by the utterance. My other related interests concern compositionality of language and thought, conceptualization of time in various languages, and contrastive semantics and pragmatics. I have supervised many undergraduate, MPhil and PhD dissertations in the above areas of research.

I have also worked on first-person reference from the philosophical as well as cross-linguistic perspective, addressing such questions as the linguistic means that are used to refer to oneself in different cultures, the status of first-person beliefs (beliefs 'de se'), and the semantic properties of reports on beliefs de se. It is evident from the study of the means that languages employ for first-person reference that there is no bi-unique mapping between expression types and the concept of 'referring to oneself'; there are also degrees to which the concept of first-person reference is salient and conveyed in discourse. This leads to a pragmatic category of indexicals, proposed in my new book Meaning in Linguistic Interaction: Semantics, Metasemantics, Philosophy of Language (OUP, 2016, pb 2018).

I was recently Principal Investigator in two projects: (i) Rethinking Being Gricean: New Challenges for Metapragmatics funded by the School of Arts and Humanities, University of Cambridge, in which we investigated the challenges to the Gricean program posed by some post-Gricean developments in semantics and and pragmatics and (ii) Expressing the Self: Cultural Diversity and Cognitive Universals funded by The Leverhulme Trust, in which we investigated self-reference across a range of languages from different language families.

I have also developed the concept of the so-called 'fluid character', in response to Kaplan's content-character distinction, in order to account for the flexibility of the unit that constitutes the base for pragmatic modification of meaning.

Updated 1 October 2020