Adrian Brasoveanu and Jakub Dotlacil will be teaching a class at ESSLLI 2018 titled “Computing Dynamic Meanings: Building Integrated Competence-Performance Theories for Semantics”. A brief description of the course content is given below:

The course will introduce a theoretical and computational framework for developing integrated competence-performance theories for natural language semantics. Specifically, the framework explicitly models semantic interpretation as part of a general cognitive architecture. This computationally-implemented theory of semantic interpretation as a cognitive process satisfies the following properties: (i) it is incremental (e.g., it proceeds in the standard, left-to-right fashion); (ii) it models cognitive processes needed in interpretation (in particular, access to and retrieval from declarative memory); (iii) it can be tested against performance data (online behavioral measures collected, for instance, in self-paced reading or eye-tracking experiments). The theory is built by connecting dynamic semantics approaches to natural language meaning and interpretation (DRT, Kamp 1981, Kamp and Reyle, 1993, FCS, Heim 1982, DPL, Groenendijk and Stokhof, 1991) with the cognitive architecture ACT-R (Anderson and Lebiere, 1998). This overall research program of explicitly modeling natural language interpretation as a cognitive process branches in many directions, since it can be applied to a variety of detailed experimental (performance/behavioral) data related to natural language meaning and interpretation.


Several UCSC linguists flew into Hawaii for the 25th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference. The Accent Research Group — Junko Ito, Armin Mester, Nick Kalivoda and Jeff Adler (in absentia) — presented their work (with a talk and poster) on the endangered Japanese dialects of Kagoshima at the satellite workshop on prosody and prosodic interfaces. They met up with familiar Santa Cruz-related folks — Haruo Kubozono (NINJAL), former LRC visitor and workshop organizer, and Larry Hyman (UCB), the workshop commentator. Kohei Nishimura, former LRC visiting graduate student also gave a talk based on the NINJAL corpus of Spoken Japanese. At the main conference, they were joined by Hitomi Hirayama, who gave both a poster on “Discourse effects of biased questions in Japanese” at the main session and a talk (joint with Adrian Brasoveanu) at an East Asian Psycholinguistics satellite workshop on “Expressing ignorance in Japanese: contrastive wa vs. sukunakutomo.”

Pictured above: Hitomi Hirayama, Nick Kalivoda

Pictured above: Haruo Kubozono, Nick Kalivoda, Larry Hyman, Armin Mester, Junko Ito





Last week Pranav Anand attended the first workshop at the University of Siena on Evaluatives in Deliberative Contexts. He reports:

“I spent Thursday and Friday at a workshop on Evaluatives in Deliberative Contexts organized by Valentina Bianchi at University of Siena. The workshop’s goal was to create a forum for formal semanticists, formal syntacticians, corpus linguists, political scientists, and economists to come together to talk about how to model the devices people use to express opinion in political discussions. I spoke about my joint work with Jeannie Fox Tree, Lyn Walker, and Steve Whittaker on modeling political argumentation and, more recently, narrator mood. It was great to be on the ground as an interdisciplinary collaboration is just getting started and to talk with formal linguists about these tricky pragmatic issues.”


Adrian Brasoveanu and Jessica Rett (UCLA) have published a paper on “Evaluativity across adjective and construction types” in Journal of Linguistics. An adjectival construction is evaluative iff it conveys that the property associated with the adjective exceeds a relevant threshold. The paper presents the first experimental tests of the scope and nature of evaluativity across adjectival constructions and adjective types. The studies confirm that evaluativity is conditioned by adjective type (relative or absolute, Kennedy & McNally 2005) and is not restricted to the positive construction. However, they also show several new and surprising aspects of evaluativity: that it is perhaps better characterized as a gradable property than a binary one; that the ways in which relative and absolute adjectives differ in their evaluativity vary across construction; and that, contrary to standard intuitions, subjects are willing to attribute evaluativity to the subject position of comparative constructions like Sue is taller than Bill.