2010/2011

Meaning and Understanding across Languages

Humanities

Principal investigators

Cathrine Fabricius Hansen

Professor
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS

Abstract

Our use of language is an everyday affair – but we still do not have a clear picture of how we ’encode’ complex thoughts etc. into linguistic signals and how we interpret such signals in appropriate ways. The project "Meaning and Understanding across Languages" addresses three core questions relating to this problem:
• How can the interaction between syntax-semantics on the one hand and pragmatics on the other be spelled out in a theory of the relation between language and meaning, i.e. what is the interplay between the linguistic ’code’ and the context in which language is used? We approached this central problem of the semantics-pragmatics interface partly from an overarching theoretical point of view, partly from an empirical perspective with a special focus on perspective in reported speech, specificity of reference, (adversative, additive and causal) discourse particles, and non-restrictive modification (Research area 1: coherence, competition and compensation)
• What impact do specific grammatical features of a speaker’s mother tongue have on how s/he conceptualizes reality and organizes her/his description of it, i.e. in how far does so-called ‘linguistic relativism’ hold as far as grammar is concerned. Research in this area has had a renaissance recently due to important methodological progress in cognitive and experimental psycholinguistic research. It has centred on tense and aspect in oral and written narrative. The present project extended experimental research to other text types and other grammatical categories (Research area 2: Language-specific perspectivation in text production).
• How do specific structural features and patterns of the speakers’ mother tongue affect the way they process and interpret texts in their second and third languages? Such questions have been investigated experimentally on the basis of single sentences, by and large out of context. The aim of the present research group was to develop precise hypotheses and robust methods of investigating speakers’ processing of second and third language texts (Research area 3: Language-specific constraints on text comprehension).

Research areas 2 and 3 take up cognitively oriented issues concerning mother tongue impact on the productive and receptive construal of meaning. A cross-linguistic approach is essential in both areas. Research area 1 involves the working out of a theoretical model for how complex linguistic expressions are assigned an interpretation. Research in the past has demonstrated quite clearly that a context-oriented cross-linguistic approach is an essential condition for real progress even in theory design.

Fellows

Bergljot Behrens

Associate Professor
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS

Kaja Borthen

Associate Professor
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Year at CAS

Oliver Bott

Dr.
University of Tübingen
Year at CAS

Regine Eckardt

Professor
University of Göttingen
Year at CAS
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Lyn Frazier

Professor
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Year at CAS

Thorstein Fretheim

Professor
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Year at CAS

Atle Grønn

Associate Professor
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS
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Barbara Hemforth

Professor
Paris Descartes University
Year at CAS
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Arnt Lykke Jakobsen

Professor
Copenhagen Business School
Year at CAS
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Jekaterina Jasinskaja

Dr.
University of Stuttgart
Year at CAS

Johan Anthony Wellem Kamp

Professor
University of Stuttgart
Year at CAS

Elena Ilkova Karagjosova

Dr.
University of Stuttgart
Year at CAS

Maria Filiouchkina Krave

Research Fellow
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS

Antje Eva Regine Roẞdeutscher

Privat Dozent
University of Stuttgart
Year at CAS

Barbara Schmiedtova

Associate Professor
University of Heidelberg
Year at CAS

Torgrim Solstad

Research Fellow
University of Stuttgart
Year at CAS

Kjell Johan Sæbø

Professor
University of Oslo (UiO)
Year at CAS

Arnim von Stechow

Professor
University of Tübingen
Year at CAS

Henk Zeevat

Professor
University of Amsterdam
Year at CAS

Events

2010

19 - 20

August
TBA
Turrent Room, CAS, Oslo
2011

08 - 10

March
TBA
Turrent Room, CAS, Oslo