[Resources for class projects are now primarily on Zotero. I'm leaving the descriptions below for general orientation purposes, but you should browse the papers on Zotero for following up on ideas more thoroughly]
Most of you will run a survey or questionnaire of one type or another. This can nowadays be conveniently done online. There are various resources available to you in this regard, including generally free online services as well as more sophisticated systems available through Penn. In particular, Penn has a license for Qualtrics. Below are links to some of the options:
If you are planning to collect data that includes reaction times, Qualtrics actually lets you collect timing information. For a more accurate setup on your own computer, you can use another free program, which is fairly simple to use (if you’re not afraid of setting things up in a slightly more abstract format): Linger
Below are some potential areas for project topics, which mainly relate to our topic in the next few weeks – Implicatures. You are by no means limited to these, though! You can of course investigate something related to what we have done so far, or come up with a topic of your own (you may want to double check with me before spending too much time on it to make sure you’re on the right track). The links to potential readings below starts with some background and overviews, and then lists a number of papers from the current research literature on experiments relating to pragmatic inferences. There also are a couple of papers relating to reference resolution and to inferences and autism. The papers very in length and level of technical difficulty. Don’t worry if you start looking at something and don’t understand everything. You could skip to the sections describing the experiments (often with pictures), and start trying to think about variations or similar ideas. We will cover both the theoretical background and the basics of experimental design, so it’s ok if your project proposal isn’t fully spelled out in this regard if you choose a topic in the areas below.
Logical Meanings and Pragmatic Inferences
- What is the relationship between connectives and quantifiers in logic (such as ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘every’, ‘some’) and their natural language counterparts?
- In what contexts do these expressions have a ‘purely logical’ meaning? In what contexts are these meanings strengthened by additional inferences?
- Are there differences between the systematic implicatures that arise with such operators and other implicatures that seem to depend more on a specific context?
- How is ‘or’ interpreted in the scope of negation? This has been subject of various legal debates (for the most recent case, see http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2125)
Possible Background Readings:
Levinson (2000): Presumptive Meanings
Overviews of work in experimental pragmatics:
Crain, Gualmini, & Meroni (2000) The Acquisition of Logical Words
Noveck & Reboul (2008): Experimental Pragmatics: A Gricean Turn in the Study of Language
Some Recent Papers on Experiments in Semantics & Pragmatics
Quantifiers & Numbers
Sedivy 2007: Implicature Processing
Huang & Snedeker: From Meaning to Inference
Geurts et al.: Scalar Quantifiers – Logic, Acquisition and Processing
Papafragou & Musolino: Scalar Implicatures (Experiments)
Hurewitz et al.: Asymmetries in the Acquisition of Numbers and Quantifiers
Huang, Spelke, Snedeker: When is ‘four’ far more than ‘three’?
Huang Spelke & Snedeker in press.pdf
Huang & Snedeker: Semantic Meaning and Pragmatic Interpretation in 5-Year-Olds
Huang Snedeker 2009b Dev.pd
Hanna et al. The effects of common ground and perspective on domains of referential interpretation
Guasti et al: Why children and adults sometimes (but not always) compute implicatures
Papafragou & Tantalou: Children’s Computation of Implicatures
Gualmini & Crain: Why No Child or Adult Must Learn De Morgan’s Laws
Autism and Inferencing
Pijnacker et al.: Inference and Autism
Noveck et al. 2007: Autism and ‘every … not’ sentences
Language and the Law
Various interesting questions about the interpretation of English sentences arise in legal contexts. We saw an example in class, and another one was linked to from the announcements section. There’s quite a bit of literature on this. Good starting points are