Judith Tonhauser (Ohio State University & Universität Stuttgart),
The constraint-based approach to pragmatics assumes that listeners
integrate probabilistic information from multiple sources to identify speaker
meaning (e.g., Degen & Tanenhaus, 2019). This talk motivates a constraint-based
approach to projection, the phenomenon whereby listeners can infer that speakers
are committed to an utterance content even when that content is in the scope of
an entailment-canceling operator. For instance, to identify whether Cam, who
utters the question in (1), is committed to the content of the clausal
complement, listeners integrate information from multiple sources (see, e.g.,
Tonhauser, Beaver, & Degen, 2018).
(1) Cam: Did Kim discover that Sandy’s work is plagiarized?
From the constraint-based perspective, the overarching research question then
is: which information sources do listeners rely on in drawing projection
inferences in the domain under investigation and how is the information from
these sources integrated? In this talk, the constrained-based approach is
empirically motivated on the basis of the findings of two comprehension
experiments that reveal two novel information sources that influence
listeners’ projection inferences: (i) the lexical content of the predicate
and (ii) listeners’ prior beliefs. By forcing us to confront the multiple
sources of information that listeners rely on in drawing projecting inferences,
the constraint-based approach brings out a multitude of new research questions
about projection cross-linguistically.
Degen, J., & Tanenhaus, M. K. (2019). Constraint-based pragmatic processing.
In C. Cummins & N. Katsos (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of experimental semantics
and pragmatics (pp. 21–38). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Tonhauser, J., Beaver, D. I., & Degen, J. (2018). How projective is projective
content? Gradience in projectivity and at-issueness.
Journal of Semantics, 35(3), 495–542.