QUDs and exhaustivity: experiments, computation, and theory

Organizer(s)Anton Benz (ZAS Berlin) & Edgar Onea (Universität Graz)
Start of event 25.09.2020, 09.00 o'clock
End of event 26.09.2020, 18.00 o'clock
Venue Universität Graz
Workshop webpage

***Please note that we are closely monitoring the impact of and response to COVID-19 and will put in place an appropriate contingency plan as the situation evolves. In the not unlikely event that travelling is not recommended, the workshop will happen online.***

Planned invited speakers:

David Beaver (U Texas at Austin), Nicole Gotzner (ZAS, Berlin), Benjamin Spector (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris)


In grammatical theories, exhaustivity inferences are usually linked to two major components: some sort of exhaustivity operator and a set of alternatives. The set of alternatives can be lexically constrained, as in the case of scalar implicatures, but is usually a set of focus-alternatives and thus naturally connected to the Question under Discussion. By definition, at least at the global level, the congruent question is a sub-set of the focus alternatives of a sentence. Hence, exhaustivity can be conceptualized for such cases as completeness of answers to questions. In other cases, however, in embedded environments, it is not obvious whether and how a relevant question under discussion can be found. Thus, the relation between focus alternatives relevant to exhaustification and the question under discussion is not transparent.
In the workshop we wish to bring together pragmatic and grammatical approaches to exhaustivity inferences associated with different constructions: scalar implicatures, clefts, focus constructions, embedded questions, presuppositions, discourse relations etc. Thereby, we assume that the relevance of a set of alternatives and the QUD may be a link between different types of approaches that needs further exploration.

Call for submissions

We welcome theoretical, computational, and experimental talks that further our understanding of the role of alternatives in pragmatics and semantics. Specific topics might relate to, but are not limited to:

  • What is the role of QUD in Bayesian models of communication?
  • What is the role of the QUD in the case of embedded implicatures?
  • How exhaustive are questions and embedded questions in particular? Can there be rational global pragmatic analyses of this phenomenon?
  • What are the best state of the art models for pragmatic and grammatical exhaustification?
  • If the QUD is connected to at-issueness and projection, is exhaustivity also connected to these phenomena and if so in what way?
  • How can we predict the choice of quantifiers and optimal descriptions of complex situations and how does this depend on the QUD?
  • QUDs as discourse structuring devices create constraints on expected content. Which exhaustivity implicature can thereby be triggered at the discourse level?

We invite submissions of extended abstracts (2 pages), outlining original research and innovative approaches. Abstracts can be uploaded until July 15th, 2020 at: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=grazqud20

Important dates:

July 15th: Deadline for submissions
August 5th: Notification of acceptance
September 1st: Camera-ready versions of abstracts
September 25-26: Workshop