Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

Workshop on Speech Act Related Operators

Organisator(en) Tue Trinh & Clemens Steiner-Mayr (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)
Veranstaltungsbeginn 27.06.2024, 10.00 Uhr
Veranstaltungsende 29.06.2024, 18.00 Uhr
Ort ZAS, Pariser Str. 1, 10719 Berlin; Room: Ilse-Zimmermann-Raum 0.32 (Ground floor)

The focus of this workshop is on grammatical operators which, in some sense or others, mimic interpretive effects that could be, and have been, considered inferences drawn from pragmatic reasoning on the speech act performer. Examples include "illocutionary operators" such as ASSERT, ASK, and COMMAND (Ross, 1970; Lakoff, 1970; Sadock, 1974; Krifka, 1995, 2001, 2020; Miyagawa, 2022), the "exhaustification operator" EXH (Fox 2007) and its presuppositional variant PEX (Bassi et al. 2021), the "belief operator" K (Meyer 2013), the "presupposition accommodation operator" A (Beaver & Krahmer, 2001; Fox, 2013), the "answer operator" ANS (Heim, 1994; Dayal, 1996), the "non-redundancy operator" R (Blumberg & Goldstein, 2021), and the "minimal likelihood operator" EVEN (Crnic 2014, 2020), among others. We will call such operators "speech act related operators", short SAROs. The strategy of postulating SAROs has proved successful and, also, is enjoying increasing popularity. But the fact that they typically have no phonemic structure has raised skepticism among a number of researchers about their syntactic reality. See, for example, Bergen et al. (2016) for arguments against EXH, Chatain & Schlenker (2023) for arguments against A and R, Condoravdi & Lauer (2012) and Lauer (2013) for arguments against illocutionary operators such as ASSERT, ASK, and COMMAND. Our impression is that an overview of arguments for and against SAROs is lacking, and that a forum which gives researchers from both sides of the debate a chance to address specific and general questions about the dividing line between semantics and pragmatics is called for.  

The Workshop on Speech Act Related Operators, which we are announcing, is intended to provide such a forum. Each talk in the workshop will consist of (i) a 50-minute presentation, (ii) a 20-minute commentary, and (iii) a 20-minute Q&A session. At the end of the workshop, there will be a panel discussion. Presenters and commentators are by invitation only and include Maria Aloni, Keny Chatain, Cleo Condoravdi, Luka Crnic, Veneeta Dayal, Maria-Teresa Espinal, Kai von Fintel, Danny Fox, Virginia Hill, Roni Katzir, Manfred Krifka, Jess Law, Marie-Christine Meyer, Shigeru Miyagawa, Andreea Nicolae, Guillermo Del Pinal, Paul Portner, Sophie Repp, Jacopo Romoli, Uli Sauerland, Philippe Schlenker, Benjamin Spector, Andreas Trotzke, and Martina Wiltschko.

As we plan to have at least one poster session, we are calling for abstracts for poster presentations. We especially encourage graduate students and junior researchers to submit abstracts. Topics that are welcome include, but are not limited to, the following.

– The inventory of SAROs

– Arguments for and against SAROs

– Constraints on the distribution of SAROs

– Syntactic, morphological, and intonational reflexes of SAROs

– Conceptual underpinnings of SAROs

– The conspicuous silence of SAROs across languages

– The variation in meanings of SAROs across languages

– The role of "pragmatics"

Please send your abstract to saro.berlin.2024@gmail.com before 15.05.2024.
Abstracts should be two pages in length (letter size or A4 paper, 2.5cm or 1 inch margins on all sides, 12 point font, Times New Roman or similar), with an additional third page used references, figures, and tables.

If you want to attend the workshop without presenting anything, please register by sending us an email to the same email address (saro.berlin.2024@gmail.com) with "SARO: attendance only'' in the subject line and your name and affiliation in the text body. Attendance is free of charge but we would appreciate it if you register.

The workshop is jointly funded and organized by the ERC project Speech Acts in Grammar and Discourse (SPAGAD) at the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft and the DFG project Exceptive-additive Constructions at the University of Göttingen. It will take place on June 27–29, 2024, at the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (Address: Pariser Str. 1, 10719 Berlin, Germany).


Bassi, Itai, Guillermo Del Pinal, and Uli Sauerland. 2023. Free choice and presuppositional exhaustification. Accepted for publication in Semantics and Pragmatics.

Beaver, David, and Emiel Krahmer. 2001. A partial account of presupposition projection. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 10:147–182.

Bergen, Leon, Roger Levy, and Noah Goodman. 2016. Pragmatic reasoning through semantic inference. Semantics and Pragmatics 9, Article 20:1–83.

Blumberg, Kyle, and Simon Goldstein. 2021. A semantic theory of redundancy. Manuscript, Australian Catholic University.

Chatain, Keny, and Philippe Schlenker. 2023. Local pragmatics redux: Presupposition accommodation and non-redundancy without covert operators. Manuscript, ENS.

Chierchia, Gennaro, Danny Fox, and Benjamin Spector. 2012. The grammatical view of scalar implicatures and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics. In Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, ed. P. Portner, C. Maienborn, and K. v. Heusinger, 2297–2332. De Gruyter.

Condoravdi, Cleo and Lauer, Sven. 2012. Imperatives: Meaning and illocutionary force, in Empirical Issues in Syntax and Semantics 9, ed. C. Piñon, 37–58. CNRS.

Crnic, Luka. 2020. Number in NPI licensing. Lingbuzz/004954.

Crnic, Luka. 2014. Against a dogma on NPI licensing. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 71:117–145.

Dayal, Veneeta. 1996. Locality in Wh quantification, volume 62 of Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy. Kluwer.

Fox, Danny. 2007. Free choice disjunction and the theory of scalar implicatures. In Presupposition and Implicature in Compositional Semantics, ed. U. Sauerland and P. Stateva, 71–120. Palgrave-Macmillan.

Fox, Danny. 2012. Presupposition projection from quantificational sentences: Trivalence, local accommodation, and presupposition strengthening. Manuscript, MIT.

Heim, Irene. 1994. Interrogative semantics and Karttunen’s semantics for know. Proceedings of IATL 1:128 – 144.

Krifka, Manfred. 1995. The semantics and pragmatics of polarity items. Linguistic Analysis 25:209–257.

Krifka, Manfred. 2001. Quantifying into question acts. Natural Language Semantics, 9:1–40.

Krifka, Manfred. 2020. Layers of assertive clauses: propositions, judgements, commitments, acts. In Propositionale Argumente im Sprachvergleich: Theorie und Empirie, ed. J. Hartman and A. Wöllstein, 1–46. Gunter Narr Verlag.

Lakoff, George. 1970. Linguistics and natural logic. Synthese 22:151–271.

Lauer, Sven. 2013. Towards a Dynamic Pragmatics. Doctoral Dissertation, Stanford University.

Meyer, Marie-Christine. 2013. Ignorance and Grammar. Doctoral Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Miyagawa, Shigeru. 2022. Syntax in the Treetops. MIT Press.

Ross, John. 1970. On declarative sentences. In Readings in English Transformational Grammar, ed. R. A. Jacobs and P. S. Rosenbaum, 222–272. Ginn and Company.

Sadock, Jerold. 1974. Toward a Linguistic Theory of Speech Acts. Academic Press.