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Conference Information

Full Title: Workshop: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Logical Words

Short Title: LogWords
Location: Geneva, Switzerland
Start Date: 22-Jul-2013 - 26-Jul-2013
Contact: Jacques Moeschler
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: Logical words such as not and the connectives and, or, and if have linguistic counterparts in most if not all natural languages. Nevertheless, their linguistic properties are not identical: many cross-linguistic differences characterize their linguistic realizations (see Mauri 2008). The first purpose of the workshop is to give a general picture about the various ways in which natural languages express logical meanings such as negation, conjunction, disjunction and condition. The second purpose of the workshop is to explore the connection, if there is some, between the logical semantics of negation and connectives and their pragmatic meaning. One observation is that their pragmatic meaning is a restriction on their semantic one: a negative sentence is used to communicate a true negative proposition, and not a false one; a disjunction is typically used in its exclusive and not in inclusive meaning; conditionals are interpreted as bi-conditionals or as counterfactuals, which are both restrictions on the truth-conditions of the material implication; finally, and is pragmatically non symmetrical, because of its temporal and causal meanings. Are these restrictions in meaning universal? And how can we explain the way logical meaning can be connected to the specific uses and meanings of logical words? The third purpose of the workshop is to explore the various ways in which natural languages express the meanings of logical words beyond the content covered in logic: some languages heavily rely on pragmatics (as in French and English), whereas other languages (such as Serbo-Croatian) have specific connectives for pragmatic meanings (cf. the pa/a opposition, respectively, for sequential and non-sequential meanings of and, or the use of the conditional mood both in the antecedent and the consequence in French). Cross-linguistic variation in linguistic form and in the nature of the meaning (linguistic vs. pragmatic) should be systematically and cautiously explored (cf. also Mauri and van der Auwera 2012). Finally, as far as negation is concerned, the relation between the descriptive uses and the metalinguistic ones is still an open question (cf. Moeschler 2010). Is metalinguistic negation a specific echoic use? Or does it involve a much broader domain, that of presupposition and implicature cancellation and of uptailing vs. downtailing uses? If metalinguistic uses cover a broader domain, how can one explain the relations between these multiple uses? And how can we explain the scope properties of negation related to its descriptive and metalinguistic uses? The organizers are expecting contributions on the following topics:

1. Cross-linguistic variation in the morphosyntactic realization of negation and logical connectives
2. Cross-linguistic variation in the realization of pragmatic meaning for conjunction, disjunction and conditionals
3. The semantic-pragmatic interface of logical words: how to derive pragmatic meanings from logical ones?
4. Scope properties of negation, at the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels
5. The relation between descriptive and metalinguistic uses of negation
6. The connection between presupposition and implicature cancelling uses of metalinguistic negation

Invited Scholars:

Denis Delfitto (Verona, confirmed), Laurence Horn (Yale, confirmed), Toshio Ohori (confirmed, Japon)


Mauri, Caterina (2008). Coordination Relations in the Languages of Europe and Beyond. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Mauri, Caterina & van der Auwera, Johan (2012). Connectives. In: Kasia. M. Jaszczolt and Keith Allan (eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Moeschler, Jacques (2010). Negation, scope and the descriptive/metalinguistic distinction. Generative Grammar in Geneva 6, 29-48
Linguistic Subfield: Pragmatics; Semantics; Typology
LL Issue: 23.2607

This is a session of the following meeting:
19th International Congress of Linguists

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