Compositionality of meaning (COMPOSING)

Funded research project "Compositionality of meaning and semantic operations at the syntax-semantics and grammar-cognition interface (COMPOSING)"

Jun 18 2015

PhD position in semantics

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

One PhD position is available at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain. This PhD position is associated to a newly funded project grant to M.Teresa Espinal, reference number: FFI2014-52015-P; title: La composicionalidad del significado. Perspectivas teóricas y empíricas (

The general topic of the thesis will be related to the locus of semantic variation in and outside grammar.

Those with interests in the following areas are encouraged to apply:
– syntax-semantics interface, grammar-cognition interface,
– parallels between the nominal and the verbal domains,
– reference to generic expressions in languages with articles and without articles.

Some recent representative publications of members of the team on these topics are the following:
– BOGATYREVA, L. & M.T. ESPINAL (2014), “Weak referentiality and Russian instrumental nominals”. In A. Aguilar, B. Le Bruyn & J. Zwarts (eds.), Weak referentiality. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 101-127.
– BORIK, O. & M.T. ESPINAL (2015), “Reference to kinds and to other generic expressions in Spanish: definiteness and number”. The Linguistic Review, 32.2, 167-225.
– BORIK, O. & B. GEHRKE (eds.), The Syntax and Semantics of Pseudo-Incorporation. Syntax and Semantics, 40.
– CYRINO, S. & M.T. ESPINAL (2015), “Bare nominals in Brazilian Portuguese: more on the DP/NP analysis”. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 33:471-521. DOI: 10.1007/s11049-014-9264-6.
– ESPINAL, M.T.& L. McNALLY (2011), “Bare nominals and incorporating verbs in Catalan and Spanish”. Journal of Linguistics, 47, 87-128.
– ESPINAL, M.T., & X. VILLALBA (2015), “Ambiguity resolution and information structure”. In J. Fortuny & B. Coromines (eds.), On the locus of ambiguity and the design of language. Thematic issue of The Linguistic Review, 32(1), 61-85

For further information, please contact either M. Teresa Espinal or Xavier Villalba:


The PhD researcher
– will enroll at the Cognitive Science and Language PhD program, and
– will become a member of the Center for Theoretical Linguistics, a lively academic environment for developing a PhD project.

Duration: 4 years, starting on the academic course 2015-16.

Economic conditions: the annual gross income is 16422 euros, and the beneficiary will get public medical assistance for the whole period. Moreover, they will have a stipend of 4.750 euros for research stays in other centers.

Application: from June 15th until June 29th, 2015.

Requirements: Applicants should have an MA degree (or equivalent) in Linguistics (or related areas) by the start date and be accepted at the CS&L PhD program of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Solid background in linguistics is required. See the full general conditions of these PhD positions at the following link.

How to apply: After registering at, applicants should apply electronically at the following portal.

by submitting:
– Application form, linked to the project reference FFI2014-52015-P
– CV (in Spanish or English)
– Copy of the passport (only for non-Spanish nationals)
– Academic certificate (with full details: courses, qualifications, dates) of degrees obtained so far, plus official translation into Spanish or English (if the original is in a third language)

For practical matters, please contact:

Cristina Real
phone: +34 935812372
fax: +34 935812782

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Apr 22 2015

Program of the XPRAG 2015

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

Here you have the program of the XPRAG 2015:

Thursday, July 16
All talks will take place in Room 621, University of Chicago Gleacher Center.

12:00-1:00 Registration
1:00-1:10 Opening Remarks

Session 1

1:10-2:10 Invited speaker: David Beaver (Texas)
2:10-2:40 Judith Tonhauser (OSU), David Beaver (Texas), Judith Degen (Stanford), Marie-Catherine de Marneffe (OSU), Craige Roberts (OSU) and Mandy Simons (Carnegie Mellon), “Negated evaluative adjective sentences: What projects, and why?”

2:40-3:00 Break

Session 2
3:00-3:30 Sonja Tiemann and Nadine Bade (Tübingen), “Experimental evidence for the difference between soft and hard triggers”
3:30-4:00 Nicole Gotzner (ZAS) and Jacopo Romoli (Ulster), “Testing theories of alternatives on sentences with multiple scalar items”

4:00-4:15 Break

Session 3
4:15-4:45 Alice Rees and Lewis Bott (Cardiff), “The role of the alternative in the derivation of scalar implicatures”
4:45-5:15 Bob van Tiel (ZAS) and Walter Schaeken (Leuven), “Processing quantity inferences”

5:15-6:45 Poster Session 1
Stavroula Alexandropoulou, “Pragmatic inferences attested homogeneously with Class B numeral modifiers”
Anna-Christina Boell (Göttingen), Joseph Deveaugh-Geiss (Potsdam), Edgar Onea Gáspár (Göttingen) and Malte Zimmermann (Potsdam), “Contradicting (not-)at-issueness in exclusives and clefts: An empirical study”
Emilie Destruel and Thomas Farmer (Iowa), “Processing exhaustivity in the English it-cleft”
Nicole Gotzner (ZAS), David Barner (UCSD) and Stephen Crain (Macquarie), “What’s the alternative? How children compute implicatures with different scales”
William Horton, Chris Schmader and Gregory Ward (Northwestern), “On the incorporation of generalized conversational implicatures into WHAT IS SAID: An experimental investigation”
Tania Ionin (Illinois) and Luisa Marti (Queen Mary), “An experimental study of Russian wh-indefinites”
Yaron McNabb (Utrecht), “Scalar inferences and scalar modifiers”
Prerna Nadathur and Daniel Lassiter (Stanford), “Unless as a restrictor of non-universal quantifiers”
Edgar Onea and Bastian Mayerhofer (Göttingen), “Indefinites and questions. An experimental approach.”
Nausicaa Pouscoulous, Keith Jensen and Elena Lieven, “Give some, keep some: Scalar implicatures and sharing in children”
Petra Schumacher and Hanna Weiland-Breckle (Cologne), “Are there traces of historical change in the processing of metonymy?”
Lyn Tieu and Erin Zaroukian (École Normale Supérieure), “‘Sorta’ hedging objects, verbs, and whole sentences”
John Michael Tomlinson and Camilo Rodriguez-Ronderos (ZAS), “Exhaustive and ignorance implicatures in partial answers”
Xavier Villalba (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), “Levels of meaning in exclamatives: an experimental study”
Yimei Xiang (Harvard), “Sensitivity to false answers”
Sara Sanchez-Alonso, Ashwini Deo and Maria M. Pinango (Yale), “Context Modulation and the ser/estar distinction in Iberian Spanish”
6:30-7:30 Reception

Friday, July 17
All talks will take place in Room 621, University of Chicago Gleacher Center.

9:30-9:00 Breakfast

Session 4
9:00-10:00 Invited speaker: Yi Ting Huang (Maryland)
10:00-10:30 Chris Cummins (Edinburgh), “Pragmatic enrichments of modified fractions”

10:30-11:00 Break

Session 5
11:00-11:30 Alexandre Cremers, Lyn Tieu and Emmanuel Chemla (École Normale Supérieure), “Children’s exhaustive readings of embedded questions”
11:30-12:00 Ye Tian (Paris Diderot) and Richard Beheny (UCL), “Representing polar questions and inferring states of inquiry”
12:00-12:30 Gregory Scontras and Noah Goodman (Stanford), “The role of context in plural predication”

12:30-2:00 Lunch

2:00-3:30 Poster Session 2
Nadine Bade and Sonja Tiemann (Tübingen), “Domain Restriction Presupposed”
Ana Besserman (USC), Tracy Love (SDSU) and Lew Shapiro (SDSU), “Anticipatory processes in language comprehension: The English existential as an indicator of newness”
Tasos Chatzikonstantinou (Chicago), Michaela Nerantzini (Northwestern), Jordan Fenlon (Chicago) and Napoleon Katsos (Cambridge), “On Nouwen’s Class A and B quantifiers: Psycholinguistic and sign-language data”
Emily Fedele and Elsi Kaiser (USC), ” The pragmatic consequences of crossing a sentence boundary: Investigating reference resolution in English and Italian”
Tania Ionin and Tatiana Luchkina (Illinois), “The relationship between quantifier scope and information structure in Russian: an experimental perspective”
Justine Kao, Judith Degen and Noah Goodman (Stanford), “When all means not all: nonliteral interpretations of universal quantifiers”
Mindaugas Mozuraitis and Daphna Heller (Toronto), “How common ground regarding object category affects the form of referring expressions”
Michael McCourt, Jeffrey Green, Ellen Lau and Alexander Williams (Maryland), “Implicit Control: Semantics or Pragmatics?”
Yaron McNabb, Rick Nouwen, Stavroula Alexandopoulou, Dominique Blok and Sophia Bimpikou (Utrecht), “The likelihood of upper-bound construals among different modified numerals”
Larry Muhlstein (UCSD), Christopher Potts (Stanford), Michael Frank (Stanford) and Roger Levy (UCSD), “Pragmatic coordination on context via definite reference”
Nausicaa Pouscoulous and Alexandra Perovic (UCL), “Comprehension of novel metaphor in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down Syndrome”
Andreea Nicolae and Uli Sauerland (ZAS), “Levels of exclusivity”
Maria Spychalska (Ruhr University Bochum), Jarmo Kontinen (Ruhr University Bochum), Ira Noveck (CNRS Lyon), Ludmila Rösch (Ruhr University Bochum) and Markus Werning (Ruhr University Bochum), “Exploring the ambiguity between the ‘at least’ and ‘exactly’ interpretation of bare numerals: Evidence from event-related brain potentials”
Stephanie Solt (ZAS), “Faultless comparatives and the subjectivity of gradable adjective”
Jérémy Zehr (Penn), “Vagueness, presupposition and truth-value gaps: An empirical investigation”
Xiaobei Zheng and Irene Symeonidou (UCL), “Questions and Speaker Ignorance”

Session 6
3:30-4:00 Florian Schwarz (Penn), Cory Bill (Macquarie), and Jacopo Romoli (Ulster), “Reluctant acceptance of the literal truth: Eye tracking in the Covered Box Paradigm”
4:00-5:00 Invited speaker: Michael Tanenhaus (Rochester)
Saturday, July 18
All talks will take place in Room 621, University of Chicago Gleacher Center.

8:30-9:00 Breakfast

Session 7
9:00-10:00 Invited speaker: Noah Goodman (Stanford)
10:00-10:30 Till Poppels and Roger Levy (UCSD), “Resolving Quantity and Informativeness implicature in indefinite reference”

10:30-11:00 Break

Session 8
11:00-11:30 Bart Geurts (Nijmegen) and Bob van Tiel (ZAS), “Automatic inferences about speakers’ beliefs”
11:30-12:00 Mindaugas Mozuraitis, Craig Chambers and Meredyth Daneman (Toronto), “Sensitivity to knowledge mismatch about identity in narrative comprehension”
12:00-12:30 Tiffany Morisseau (Central European University) and Ira Noveck (CNRS Lyon), “How speaker-listener affiliations affect pragmatic inference-making”

12:30-2:00 Lunch

Session 9
2:00-2:30 Danielle Moed and Daphna Heller (Toronto), “Is the empty cage the same as the cage without the dog? How types of modifiers affect the representation of alternatives”
2:30-3:00 Amanda Pogue, Chigusa Kurumada and Michael Tanenhaus (Rochester) “Speaker-specific pragmatic generalizations based on under- vs. over-informative utterances”
3:00-3:30 Steve Frisson (Birmingham) and Petra Schumacher (Cologne), “Eye-tracking the ham sandwich: The on-line processing of contextually instantiated metonymies”

3:30-4:00 Break

Session 10
4:00-5:00 Invited speaker: Hannah Rohde (Edinburgh)

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Apr 17 2015

Congress BCGL 8: The grammar of idioms (Brussels, June 4-5, 2015)

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

M. Teresa and Xavier will present the paper “DEFINITE FEMININE CLITICS AND TELICITY IN IDIOMS” at the congress BCGL 8: The grammar of idioms (Brussels, June 4-5, 2015), organized by CRISSP (KU Leuven) and UiL OTS (Universiteit Utrecht), as part of the joint NWO/FWO project ‘The Syntax of Idioms’.

Here you have the provisional programme:


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Feb 13 2015

Workshop: Redrawing Pragmasemantic Borders. March 19-20, 2015, Groningen, The Netherland

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

The aim of the workshop is to discuss how to cut the pragmasemantic pie. More specifically, we solicit submissions dealing with:

— formal arguments or empirical data that support unifying different information types based on for instance projection properties
— formal arguments or empirical data suggesting new distinctions
— work that integrates the analysis of different meaning types with contextual or discourse effects
— new theoretical approaches to representing and integrating different types of information (e.g. multi-dimensional semantics)


— Craige Roberts (Ohio State University, currently Central European University, Budapest)
— Judith Tonhauser (Ohio State University, currently ZAS, Berlin)
— Hans-Martin Gärtner (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest).

University of Groningen, The Netherlands

— Workshop: Thu, March 19, 2015 — Fri, March 20th, 2015

— Jennifer Spenader:
— Emar Maier:


ERC (project BLENDS)


The workshop will last two full days, March 19-20, approximately 9:30 – 18:00, with a small poster session on Thursday afternoon and a conference dinner Thursday evening. Detailed program and abstract booklet will follow.

Invited Speakers:
Craige Roberts
Judith Tonhauser
Hans-Martin Gärtner

Contributed Talks (some still to be confirmed):
Eric Acton. Non-entailed content — “A socio-pragmatic framework”

Gabor Alberti and Judit Kleiber — “The Pragmasemantic Pie as is Cut in ReALIS (The Intensional Profiles of Hungarian Imperative Sentence Types)”

Jirka Maršík and Maxime Amblard — “Pragmatic Side Effects”

Ann Reed — “Weak Definites are strong enough”

Janneke van Wijnbergen-Huitink — “Conditionals and inferred connections”

Rob van der Sandt — “Presuppositional strategies”

Tamás Káldi — “The exhaustive interpretation of the Hungarian pre-verbal focus: entailment or implicature?”

Nadine Bade and Sonja Tiemann — “Obligatory triggers under negation”

James Griffiths — “Appositives, two-utterance monologues, and different types of meaning”

Xavier Villalba — “Cancelling and projecting in exclamatives: levels of meaning under experimental study”

Chris Cummins and Patricia Amaral — “(Re)drawing the boundaries among presupposition triggers”

Henk Zeevat — “Causal and Identity Inferences block Presupposition Projection”

Todor Koev — “On Appositive Projection and Its Exceptions”

Noortje Venhuizen, Johan Bos, Petra Hendriks and Harm Brouwer — “Differentiating projection phenomena in a unified semantic framework”

Shinobu Mizuguchi — “Contextual Domain Restriction in Classifier Languages”

Karolina Jaworska — “Semantic Repetition in Media Arabic”

Andrea Nadalini, Luisa Lugli and Malvina Nissim — “Word knowledge- and lexical-based inferences: the case of bridging anaphora”

Livio Robaldo, Jakub Szymanik and Ben Meijering — “An experimental study of the pragmatic influence on the interpretation of multi-quantifier sentences”

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Jan 31 2015

New volume of The Linguistic Review edited by Jordi Fortuny and Bernat Corominas-Murtra

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |


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Nov 18 2014

Call for applications: 20 fellowships for 2015/16 SIAS Summer Institute

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

The Investigation of Linguistic Meaning: In the Armchair, in the Field, and in the Lab

Call for Applications

The Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin and the National Humanities Center in North Carolina are soliciting applications for the 2015/16 SIAS Summer Institute: The Investigation of Linguistic Meaning: In the Armchair, in the Field, and in the Lab. The Summer Institute wants to attract junior postdoctoral researchers (PhD 2009 or later) from one of three fields: (a) Theoretical Linguistics, especially Semantics and its interfaces with Pragmatics, Syntax, and Phonology, (b) Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, and (c) Linguistic and Anthropological Fieldwork. SIAS Summer Institutes are designed to support the development of scholarly networks and collaborative projects among young scholars from the United States and Europe. The institutes are open to scholars who have received a Ph.D. within the past five years and Ph.D. candidates who are now studying or teaching at a European or American institution of higher education. In spite of the name, a SIAS Summer Institute is not a summer school. It is better characterized as a 2-year mentoring and networking program for 20 postdoctoral fellows, who will be brought together in two two-week summer institutes in two consecutive years (in 2015 and 2016). One goal of the 2015/16 Summer Institute will be interdisciplinary team building, resulting in joint publications at the end of the project. A second goal will be capacity building, especially the acquisition of methods in the neighboring fields.

July 20 to 31, 2015, Berlin, Germany, organized by the Wissenschaftskolleg and ZAS
July 18 to 29, 2016, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina

Application deadline: January 6, 2015.


Angelika KRATZER, Professor of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Manfred KRIFKA, Professor of General Linguistics at Humboldt Universität Berlin and Director of the Zentrum für Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin (ZAS).

Guest lecturers
Emmanuel CHEMLA, Research Scientist (CNRS), Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, École Normale Supérieure, Paris
Lisa MATTHEWSON, Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of British Columbia
Jesse SNEDEKER, Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University
Malte ZIMMERMANN, Professor of Semantics and Theory of Grammar, Universität Potsdam

Stipends and expenses
The program will cover the cost of travel, meals, lodging, and texts for both the United States and European meetings. Fellows will also receive a small stipend.

Sponsors and administration
In the United States the institutes are administered by the National Humanities Center. In Europe they are administered by the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. The program is made possible by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The SIAS Summer Institutes are sponsored by SIAS (Some Institutes for Advanced Study) consisting of the following institutes:
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, CA
Institute for Advanced Study, Hebrew University Jerusalem, Israel
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ
National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Wassenaar, Netherlands
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, MA
Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany

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Nov 12 2014

Workshop on Negation

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

The Workshop on Negation: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations will take place on December 18-19 at the Residència d’Investigadors (Residence for Researchers), in the heart of Ciutat Vella, Barcelona (c/ Hospital, 64 — 08001 Barcelona).

It is organized by M. Teresa Espinal and Susagna Tubau from the Centre de Lingüística Teòrica of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. It is funded by the research projects FFI2011-23356–COMPOSING and 2014-SGR1013.

PROGRAM (abstracts can be downloaded from the program webpage)

December 18: Diachrony and Experimental

9:00-9:15 Opening word by the organisers
9:15-10:15 Marie Labelle
The fine print of the Jespersen cycle applied to French
10:15-11:15 Ana Maria Martins
A feature-based typology of polarity items
11:15-11:45 Coffee break
11:45-12:45 Montserrat Batllori
A featural approach to the diachronic evolution of Catalan minimizers
12:45-13:45 Pierre Larrivée
Pathways of evolution of n-words: functions, features and bridging contexts
13:45-15:30 Lunch
15:30 -16:30 Richard Ingham
Surface change and structural change in the syntax of negation
16:30-17:00 Coffee break
17:00-18:00 Pilar Prieto
Intonational and gestural meaning contributions to the interpretation of denial
18:00-19:00 Ira Noveck
Investigating not experimentally: Eliminating the negative and accentuating the positive

December 19: Synchrony and Experimental
9:00-10:00 Giuseppe Longobardi
Parametric minimalism and Romance negation
10:00-11:00 Anastasia Giannakidou
Focus and negation in Greek NPIs: scalar and non-scalar negations
11:00-11:30 Coffee break
11:30-12:30 Hedde Zeijlstra
Types of negative dependences
12:30-13:30 M. Teresa Espinal
Building the meaning of n-words in Romance languages
13:30-15:15 Lunch
15:15 -16:15 Viviane Déprez
Interpreting French and English Negative dependencies: an experimental approach
16:15-17:15 Susagna Tubau
Experimentally investigating Double Negation in Catalan
17:15-17:45 Coffee break
17:45-18:45 Larry Horn
Neg-raising, NPIs, and the semantics-pragmatics interface: What’s at issue?
18:45-19:00 Closing of the workshop

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Oct 16 2014

New article by Sonia Cyrino and M. Teresa Espinal in NL&LT

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

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Sep 21 2014

New article by M. Teresa

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

Volume 145, June 2014, Pages 194–225

Diachronic changes in negative expressions: The case of French
Marie Labelle, M. Teresa Espinal

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Sep 21 2014

New article by Olga

Posted in General by Francesc Xavier Villalba Nicolás |

SI: Aspect and Argument Structure of Adjectives and Participles

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