The Research Area Semantics and Pragmatics is concerned with linguistic meaning and the connection between language and non-linguistic thinking. The results of our foundational research can be applied in various fields: Information technology, comprehensibility optimisation (medical guidelines or textbooks), language diagnostics.
By combining small units such as single words or parts of words to larger units such as sentences, dialogues, and texts, complex thoughts can be expressed. Their meaning is mainly derived compositionally from the meaning of the parts and the way they are assembled (semantics). Non-verbal signals such as emphasis, gestures and context also have an influence on meaning (pragmatics).
This project investigates in a formal study of the matches and mismatches between natural language and Boolean logic, as it is underpinned by a strong cross-linguistic investigation. The three main ways we will proceed with this investigation are the following: (i) interaction between connectives and negation and identifying mismatches between the predicted interpretation of the Boolean connective and the actual natural language interpretation, (ii) the function of complex connectives as opposed to simplex connectives, and (iii) the extent of the poly-functionality of connectives.
EU Horizon 2020 project
This project develops a new linguistic theory to explain language and its acquisition. Our central hypothesis is that language radically compresses thought structures to sound or sign. We assume that thought is mapped to language by only realizing some pieces of conceptual representations.
One typical approach to text structure is to view the text as an answer to a Question under Discussion (QUD). The text achieves a complete answer by dividing the central QUD into sub-questions and answering them in turn. The aim of this project is to test the validity of QUD approaches by testing whether an extracted question-subquestion hierarchy (QUD tree), representing text structure, can be used to recreate the original text.
(CRC 1412-Register A05)
The subproject in the CRC 1412 „Register: Language-Users’ Knowledge of Situational-Functional Variation" investigates situationally and functionally driven intra-individual variation involving alternatives that differ in their core logical or truth-conditional content. In particular, the following two sub-questions will be addressed: i) How are existing alternatives recruited for register purposes, and ii) How do language users choose between register variants?
EU Horizon 2020 project
The SPAGAD project will investigate speech acts, the basic linguistic units with communicative function. The project will propose a formal model for speech acts. In the light of this model it will investigate the role of speech acts in three areas: (1) in grammar in typologically diverse languages, (2) in discourse and (3) in communication.