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Séjour long

Penka
Stateva

Linguistics - Slovenia

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PROJECT

RE-THINKING NATURAL LANGUAGE QUANTIFIERS: A NOVEL VIEW INTEGRATING FORMAL SEMANTICS, PRAGMATICS AND PSYCHOMETRICS

The standard semantic approach to meanings of determiners like some, few, many, half, most, etc. treats them as relations between sets of individuals. E.g. the determiner some, as in Some balloons are red, relates the set of balloons and the set of relevant red objects in a way which requires that the intersection of the two sets is not empty for the sentence to be True in a given situation. Mainstream pragmatic theories specify an additional, though optional, component to the meaning of the quantificational expressions that enriches the proposition of which they are part with some pragmatic inferences. The pragmatically strengthened meaning of the sentence above is Some but not all balloons are red. A similar enrichment process applies to all items on the closed quantificational scale which do not occupy its end-points.
At the same time, previous experimental research on the “psychometric” dimension of quantifiers established that a mapping should hold between a quantifier and a respective range of numerical values. The respective numerical range-referring representations of quantifier meanings can be formulated, for instance, as membership functions used in fuzzy logic.
On the one hand, however, the semantic/pragmatic approach to quantification misses an empirical generalization concerning identifiable numerical ranges of quantifiers. On the other hand, the psychometric approach cannot be married with the standard compositional semantic theory which denies the concept of partial truth.
The primary goals of this project are a) to investigate the role of the numerical component in the linguistic definition of a (vague) quantifier in a descriptively and explanatory adequate manner from a cross-linguistic perspective; and b) to lay out the basics of a novel theory about the way we perceive, understand and use vague quantificational expressions in everyday communication, effectively integrating their semantic, pragmatic and psychometric aspects.

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BIOGRAPHY

Penka Stateva is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the Center for Cognitive Science of Language at the University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia. The main focus of her research is in the area of formal semantics, (experimental) pragmatics and the interaction between syntax and semantics. Topics of research interest include the semantics of comparison constructions, degrees and quantification, vagueness and approximation, mechanisms of pragmatic strengthening. She has completed her doctoral studies in Linguistics at the University of Connecticut, USA in 2002. Before assuming the position at UNG, she has worked as a researcher at Humboldt University, the Center for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin, Tübingen University and the University of Konstanz. Her research has been funded by various state or European projects. Since 2014 she has been contributing to a series of collaborative studies on different linguistic and cognitive aspects of bilingualism in the large-scale project ATHEME (www.atheme.eu) funded within the 7th Framework Program.

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