Call for Papers
Models in formal Semantics and Pragmatics
Workshop held at ESSLLI 26
August 18-22, Tuebingen, Germany
* Magdalena Kaufmann, University of Connecticut
* Stefan Kaufmann, University of Connecticut
* Michael Glanzberg, Northwestern University
* Stanley Peters, Stanford University
* Thomas Ede Zimmermann, Frankfurt University
Whatever happened to «model-theoretic» semantics? Since Montague’s
groundbreaking work and throughout much of its history, the field of
formal semantics (and later pragmatics) was characterized by the use
of models — abstract mathematical structures in which linguistic
expressions are interpreted and which serve as the backdrop for
stating generalizations about their semantic properties and relations.
Over the last couple of decades, however, the once-prominent status of
models has been eroding. In the research literature, explicitly
defined fragments and models were the norm in the early days (Partee
1975, 1976; Dowty, 1979), but are now the exception rather than the
rule. In teaching, one of the most widely used textbooks, Heim and
Kratzer (1998), makes no mention of models, in stark contrast with
early standard works like Dowty, Wall and Peters (1981). Aside from
such signs of waning interest, there is a small but formidable body of
work which actively questions the status of models and finds them to
be of limited use at best (Lepore 1983; Higginbotham 1988; Zimmermann
1999, 2011; Glanzberg, t.a.).
Such explicit reflections are rare, however. The overall decline of
models in the field is not driven by a general debate, let alone
consensus. Nor is the turn away from models a turn towards some
non-model-theoretic alternative. What we do see instead is a tendency
to stay loosely within the model-theoretic framework, but to enrich it
with notions and tools whose formal properties remain largely implicit.
The goal of this workshop is to promote and generate discussion of the
past, present, and future of models in natural-language semantics and
pragmatics, specifically the implications of their apparent demise for
the foundations and goals of the field. Topics for discussion include,
but are in no way limited to the following:
* What are models, anyway? Commitments about language, reality, and
the nature of meaning that a model-theoretic approach to semantic
analysis implies. The (special?) status of possible worlds and their
relationship to extensional models.
* What are models good for? Linguistic phenomena or aspects of meaning
in whose analysis a model-theoretic approach has been, or would be,
crucial or at least beneficial. The (potential) use of models in
treating meaning as variable (e.g., in the analysis of uncertainty
about language, or in cross-linguistic and diachronic comparative
* Where do models get in the way? Desiderata for semantic theory and
limitations of the model-theoretic approach. Risks and side effects
of specific methods associated with the model-theoretic approach
(e.g., meaning postulates).
* Are we safe without models? Advantages and potential pitfalls of
innovative uses of formal techniques or metalinguistic expressions,
whose repercussions are underexplored (various kinds
of states and events, partial functions, etc.)
* What are the alternatives?
The workshop is part of ESSLLI and open to all ESSLLI participants. It
will consist of five 90-minute sessions held over five consecutive
days in the second week of ESSLLI. The three invited talks are
allotted one hour each, including discussion. On the first day, the
workshop organizers will give a 30-minute introduction to the
topic. This leaves room for eight submitted papers of 30 minutes each,
Authors are invited to submit an abstract of up to three pages,
including examples and/or references (single-spaced, at least 11pt
font, on US letter of A4 paper with margins at least 1in or 2.5cm on
all sides, in .pdf, .txt, .doc or .odt format). Abstracts must be
submitted by February 15, 2014, electronically at the following
Authors who are unable to comply with these requirements are welcome
to contact the organizers.
Abstracts will be reviewed by members of the program committee and,
where appropriate, outside reviewers. Reviewing will be anonymous
unless authors include self-identifying information in their
abstracts. Decisions will be made by the program committee and
announced to authors on April 15, 2014.
* Feb 15, 2014: Submission deadline
* Apr 15, 2014: Notification of acceptance
* Jun 15, 2014: End of ESSLLI early registration period
* Aug 18-22, 2014: Workshop
* Magdalena Kaufmann
* Stefan Kaufmann
* Nicholas Asher, Philosophy, Centre National de la Recherche
* Jon Gajewski, Linguistics, University of Connecticut
* Michael Glanzberg, Philosophy, Northwestern University
* Hans Kamp, Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin
* Magdalena Kaufmann, Linguistics, University of Connecticut
* Stefan Kaufmann, Linguistics, University of Connecticut
* Angelika Kratzer, Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
* Ernest Lepore, Philosophy, Rutgers University
* Barbara Partee, Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
* Paul Portner, Linguistics, Georgetown University
* Stanley Peters, Linguistics, Stanford University
* Dave Ripley, Philosophy, University of Connecticut
* Thomas Ede Zimmermann, Linguistics, Frankfurt University
* Dowty, David. 1979. Word Meaning and Montague Grammar. D. Reidel.
* Dowty, David, Robert Wall, and Stanley Peters. 1981. Introduction to
Montague Semantics. D. Reidel.
* Glanzberg, Michael. To appear. Explanation and partiality in
semantic theory. In Burgess, Alexis and Brett Sherman (eds.),
«Metasemantics: New Essays on the Foundations of Meaning.» Oxford
* Heim, Irene and Angelika Kratzer. 1998. Semantics in Generative
* Higginbotham, James. 1988. Contexts, models, and meanings: A note on
the data of semantics. In Kempson, Ruth M. (ed.), «Mental
Representations: The Interface Between Language and
Reality.» Cambridge University Press.
* Lepore, Ernest. 1983. What model theoretic semantics cannot do?
* Partee, Barbara. 1975. Montague Grammar and Transformational
Grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 6(2):203-300.
* Partee, Barbara (ed.). 1976. Montague Grammar. Academic Press.
* Zimmermann, Thomas Ede. 1999. Meaning postulates and the
model-theoretic approach to natural language semantics. Linguistics
and Philosophy 22(5):529-561.
* Zimmermann, Thomas Ede. 2011. Model-theoretic semantics. In von
Heusinger, Klaus, Claudia Maienborn, and Paul Portner (eds.),
«Semantics,» Vol. 1. De Gruyter.