Referential Semantics One Step Further:
Incorporating Insights from Conceptual and Distributional Approaches to Meaning

Louise McNally and Carla Umbach

  • Workshop
  • Week: 2
  • Time: 11:00 – 12:30
  • Room: C2.06


Workshop Program

Monday, 22.8
11.00 – 11.15 Louise McNally,
Carla Umbach
11.20 – 11.40 Alexandra Spalek (Oslo)
Barbara Tomaszwicz (Cologne)
Coercion in Polish versus English: processing complex lexical content (slides)
11.45 – 12.30 Barbara Partee
(UMass Amherst)
Lexical Semantics in Formal Semantics: History and Challenges (slides)
Tuesday, 23.8
11.00 – 11.30 Staffan Larsson (Göteborg) Connecting Language, Perception and Interaction using Type Theory with Records(slides)
11.35 – 12.20 Alessandro Lenci (Pisa) “Going Dynamic” in Distributional Semantics(slides)
12.20– 12.30 Discussion: Distributional semantics
Wednesday, 24.8
11.00 – 11.20 Matthew Gotham (Oslo) Conceptualization, Individuation and quantification(slides)
11.25 – 11.55 Stephanie Solt (ZAS Berlin) Degree and Quantity – Semantics and Conceptual Representation(slides)
12.00 – 12.30 Michael Glanzberg (Northwestern) The Cognitive Roots of Adjectival Meaning(slides)
Thursday, 25.8
11.00 – 11.30 Antje Roßdeutscher, Tillmann Pross, Sebastian Pado, Gabriella Lapesa, Max Kisselew (Stuttgart) ‘Over reference’: a comparative study on German prefix-verbs(handout)
11.35 – 12.20 Marcus Kracht (Bielefeld) Simplicity of Meaning(slides)
12.20– 12.30 Discussion: Lexical semantics
Friday, 26.8
11.00 – 11.30 Yoad Winter (Utrecht) A Role for Protoroles: Lexical Reciprocity and Logical Symmetry(slides)
11.35 – 12.20 Mark Steedman (Edinburgh) A Theory of Content(slides)
12.20– 12.30 Wrap-up


Workshop Description

Though referential approaches to semantics have proven very successful at providing meaningful analyses for a wide range of natural language data, some important phenomena, particularly involving the lexicon, have eluded insightful treatment. Notions going beyond reference and truth have been influencing referential semantics for years, but the interest in incorporating results and ideas from conceptually-oriented semantics into referential approaches is noticeably increasing, as seen in the recent series of workshops devoted to the issue (see also e.g. Hamm et al. 2009, Carlson 2010). In parallel, interest has also grown in bringing related insights from cognitively-informed distributional models of meaning into formal semantics (Lenci 2008, Copestake & Herbelot 2012, Baroni et al. 2014).
The aim of this workshop is to promote a 3-way dialog among these approaches in order to clarify natural points of contact and to generate specific hypotheses about how to improve the explanatory capacity of referential models in a principled and testable manner. We build from referential models given the empirical evidence that reference (whether to real or imaginary objects) is a fundamental part of linguistic communication. Crucially, however, reference makes use of complex descriptive content. Cognitive/conceptual approaches place greater emphasis precisely on the richness of descriptive content and richer theories of descriptive content clearly lead to richer accounts of compositional phenomena (see e.g. Kamp & Partee 1995, Zwarts & Winter 2000, Asher 2011, Del Pinal 2015, Gust & Umbach 2015, McNally, to appear). On the other hand, cognitive models are laborious to construct, difficult to implement/test, and face challenges in grounding. Compositional distributional models can help with the analysis of rich descriptive content but are not currently suited to dealing with reference. We therefore consider the incorporation of insights from conceptual and distributional models into referential approaches, rather than the reverse, the most viable strategy.


Invited Speakers

Barbara Partee, Marcus Kracht, Alessandro Lenci, Mark Steedman


Louise McNally (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Carla Umbach (ZAS Berlin / University of Cologne)

Scientific Committee

Guillermo Del Pinal, Marcus Kracht, Alessandro Lenci, Emar Maier, Louise McNally, Barbara Partee, Antje Rossdeutscher, Galit W. Sassoon, Martin Schäfer, Stephanie Solt, Mark Steedman, Carla Umbach