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ESSLLI 2020 — Workshop on Computational and Experimental Explanations in Semantics and Pragmatics

10th August 2020   -   14th August 2020
Utrecht, Netherlands


The field of natural language semantics has undergone what some refer to as an ‘experimental turn’ and is arguably currently undergoing a ‘computational turn’. By expanding the toolbox available to the semanticist, these two turns have the effect of expanding the phenomena that can be explained and the varieties of semantic explanation that can be offered. For example, experimental methods can help distinguish between alternative explanations of semantic effects, e.g. whether to classify controversial phenomena as implicatures or presuppositions. Similarly, computational models of semantics can generate fine-grained and non-categorical predictions that can fruitfully be tested experimentally. And both kinds of methods can be used to ask questions about the emergence of semantic structures in language, including which factors influence their distribution and typology. Given this wider toolbox and purview, we aim to gather a workshop to showcase exciting new work that develops new semantic explanations using experimental and computational methods, as well as to invite broader reflection on the methodology of semantics now and in its future.