Sarah Zobel
University of Tübingen
Deutsches Seminar
Wilhelmstraße 50
72074 Tübingen

Email: sarah.zobel [AT]

EGG 2018

Week 2: Introduction to pragmatics

In this course, I introduce the classical pragmatic phenomena -- presuppositions, (conversational and conventional) implicatures, and speech acts -- in connection with a basic Neo-Gricean model of discourse.


Week 1: The Semantics of Perspective Sensitivity

In this class, we will explore the question of how to capture the semantic behavior of perspective-sensitive expressions -- i.e., expressions that are sensitive to the physical or mental perspective of certain individuals. The main effect of using such an expression is that a sentence that contains them cannot be said to be true or false "absolutely". Consider, for instance, A's utterance in the context in (1).

(1) A and B sit across from each other. Between them on the table are two gift boxes. A and B need to decide which of these two boxes to use for the gift they bought for C. A says, "The left box is prettier."

A's utterance in (1) contains two perspective-sensitive items, the relative locative expression left and the predicate of personal taste/aesthetic adjective pretty. Hence, A's utterance can be said to depend on A's perspective in two ways: (i) which box A means by the left box depends on A's position and orientation in space, and (ii) whether A is truthful in calling that box prettier than the other box on the table arguably on A's preferences/aesthetic judgment. Thus, if we assume that A says something true, the truth is contingent on A's perspective; so, if B had uttered the same sentence in the same context, B would have said something different and also potentially something false.

To start out, we will introduce the main properties of perspective sensitive expressions and discuss how they can be delineated from other expressions. We will then look at the analyses for a selection of perspective-sensitive items in the relativist approach to perspective sensitivity given in Lasersohn 2017. In the course of discussing these analyses, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages to a relativist approach to perspective-sensitive expressions and also consider alternative proposals to capture their "shifty" semantic behavior.

Updated: August 10, 2018