LINGUIST List 25.2978

Mon Jul 21 2014

Calls: Semantics, Pragmatics, Philosophy of Lang, Text/Corpus Ling/Belgium

Editor for this issue: Anna White <>

Date: 18-Jul-2014
From: Luca Sbordone <>
Subject: Adaptability, Contextualism, and the Composition of Discourse Meaning
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Full Title: Adaptability, Contextualism, and the Composition of Discourse Meaning

Date: 26-Jul-2015 - 31-Jul-2015
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
Contact Person: Luca Sbordone
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Philosophy of Language; Pragmatics; Semantics; Text/Corpus Linguistics

Call Deadline: 15-Sep-2014

Meeting Description:

Full title: Adaptability, contextualism, and the composition of discourse meaning

Contextualism about meaning is a view according to which substantial contribution of pragmatic information is allowed in the truth-evaluable content of an utterance. The orientation subsumes many different approaches but according to all of them pragmatic aspects of the representation that undergoes a truth-conditional analysis go beyond the basic list that includes personal and demonstrative pronouns, adverbs such as ‘here’, ‘there’, ‘now’, and some other, but very few, expression types (see Cappelen and Lepore 2005 and Kaplan 1989). Until recently, the debate concerning the degree to which pragmatics ‘intrudes’ in the semantic representation focused on the putative existence of covert variables in the logical form (e.g. Stanley 2000). This gave rise to the debate between the so-called indexicalists and those for whom pragmatic components of meaning are free from structural constraints and operate ‘top-down’ either as a modulation of the logical form (Recanati 2004, 2010) or as the output of sources of meaning that jointly produce a truth-evaluable representation (Jaszczolt 2005, 2010). However, in the most recent literature a greater burden has been placed on the properties of lexical items themselves. Recanati (2012) proposes that utterance meanings are both compositional and flexible: they enter the process of (pragmatic) composition only after the context-driven modulation has taken place.

This panel attempts to shed more light on some pertinent and as yet unresolved questions in these recent debates (Please see the Call for Papers for more information).

Selected References:

Cappelen, H. & E. Lepore. 2005. Insensitive Semantics: A Defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism. Oxford: Blackwell.
Jaszczolt, K. M. 2005. Default Semantics: Foundations of a Compositional Theory of Acts of Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jaszczolt, K. M. 2010. ‘Default Semantics’. In: B. Heine & H. Narrog (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 193-221.
Kaplan, D. 1989. Demonstratives. In: J. Almog, J. Perry & H. Wettstein (eds). Themes from Kaplan. New York: Oxford University Press. 481-563.
Recanati, F. 2004. Literal Meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Recanati, F. 2010. Truth-Conditional Pragmatics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Recanati, F. 2012. ‘Compositionality, flexibility, and context-dependence’. In: M. Werning, W. Hinzen & E. Machery (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 175-191.
Stanley, J. 2000. ‘Context and logical form’. Linguistics and Philosophy 23. 391-434.
Szabó, Z. 2001. ‘Adjectives in context’. In: I. Kenesei and R. M. Harnish (eds). Perspectives on
Semantics, Pragmatics and Discourse: A Festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 119–146.

Call for Papers:

Papers are invited on semantic, pragmatic and philosophical approaches to the contextualism debate. Of particular interest are questions such as:

(i) What is the exact relation between the flexibility of meaning of linguistic expressions and the input they bring to the composition process? We know that context imposes constraints on adaptability but neither the starting point for this adaptation (context-free conceptual content, on the assumption it can be individuated) nor the extent of the modifications (the resulting context-dependent concept) have been properly discussed;

(ii) Does compositionality require the contextual adaptability of word meaning to be rigidly constrained by lexical semantics, in the spirit of indexicalism, or is there room for a more liberal, pragmatics-oriented understanding of compositionality (Szabó 2001)?

(iii) Is it correct to talk about the ‘adaptability of word meaning’ or should the unit that undergoes such adaptation be understood more dynamically – especially as regards idiomatic, metaphorical and formulaic expressions?

(iv) How is compositionality of meaning of incomplete utterances to be approached when the missing material, unlike in the case of ellipsis, cannot be regarded as uniquely recoverable?

(v) How does the adaptability of meaning fare with the strict indexical/nonindexical distinction? Data-based enquiries provide increasing evidence that words mix indexical and non-indexical properties. How is this linguistic fact to be reconciled with the binary distinction on the level of concept types?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this panel, please send your abstract (max. 500 words, not including references and data) by 15 September 2014 to the following address:

Please Note:

a) All abstracts, even if accepted by the panel organizer, will have to be submitted individually (web-based submission to IPrA) by 15 October 2014.
b) IPrA membership is required both for the web-based submission and, later on, for presentation at the 14th International Pragmatics Conference.

Page Updated: 21-Jul-2014