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Revising formal semantic and pragmatic theories from a neurocognitive perspective




Over the last few decades we observe a growing interest in using experimental methods to investigate semantic and pragmatic theories. Experimental pragmatics has become a flourishing interdisciplinary research area. Aside from behavioral methods, such as reaction time measurement, eye-tracking and acceptability judgments, researchers have become increasingly interested in investigating language processing on the neural level and by this means shedding more light on semantic and pragmatic theories. To this end, they employ techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Although this enterprise has resulted in a large amount of interesting data about linguistic processing, the interpretation of these results remains debated with respect to their relevance for more formal theories of meaning.  On the one hand, it often is difficult to formulate clear processing predictions for semantic and pragmatic theories, on the other hand, the theoretical interpretation of the activations observed with neuroimaging tools is not fully understood. As a result, the neurolinguistics and formal semantic/pragmatic communities remain still rather disjoint. In this workshop we would like to bridge the gap and discuss the challenges of combining the two approaches.

Invited Speakers

Valentina Bambini

Harm Brouwer

Ira Noveck

Steve Politzer-Ahles

Petra Schumacher

Call for papers

We invite abstracts for contributed talks and posters related to the workshop’s theme, addressing problems in semantics and pragmatics with experimental neurocognitive methods. We welcome papers presenting novel experimental results, talks covering methodological aspects of such studies as well as explanatory talks that aim at discussing existing data from the perspective of refined formal semantic or pragmatic theories.

Relevant topics include (but are not limited to)

  • The semantics/pragmatics interface
  • Theories of implicatures and presuppositions
  • Bayesian Pragmatics
  • Semantic and pragmatic aspects of negation
  • Quantifiers in natural language
  • Reference resolution
  • Semantic and pragmaitc aspects of conditional sentences
  • Pragmatic enrichment in sentence meaning composition
  • Metonymy & metaphor
  • Human reasoning (defeasible reasoning, syllogistic, deductive & inductive reasoning)


Abstracts should have maximally 1 page (1 inch margins on all sides, font size 11) plus 1 page with additional figures/tables/references.

Please submit your abstracts at:









Bochum, 19-20 June 2017

Maria Spychalska & Markus Werning


Deadline: 31.03.2017   10.04.2017
Notification: 15.04.2017  31.04.2017

Registration (coffee break fee):

Students: 35 €

Non-students: 45 €

Dinner: tba