Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

PerSNaL - Perspective and the Self in Natural Language

This project investigates the encoding of perspective in natural language, with particular emphasis on the semantics of attitude reports (eg 'John thinks that it is raining', 'Mary said that she was smart'). Data from linguistic fieldwork and psycholinguistics are employed. The topic is closely connected to attitudes de se - thoughts, expectations, hopes and the like that are inherently first personal, as with 'John claims to be a good semanticist'. The hypothesis to be investigated is that linguistic reports of attitudes de se are a special case of perspectival language. We investigate to what extent the formal tools that have been developed for the analysis of attitudes de se can be applied to other perspectival phenomena. Our expectation is that some perspectival language will be shown to call for a distinct analysis from those currently available for attitudes de se. The challenge would then be to develop novel formal tools with which to model these expressions. The results are expected to have consequences for not only theoretical linguistics, but also philosophy of language and cognitive science.