July 27, 2007: Yurie Hara, The Emergence of the Evidential Intonation;
Uli Sauerland, Vagueness and Approximation

[Japanese | English]

3:30pm, July 6, 2007
Lecture Room 1 (1212), 12th floor, National Institute of Informatics, (National Center of Sciences Bldg.).
Talk 1
Yurie Hara, Kyoto University
The Emergence of the Evidential Intonation
We discuss a new intonational pattern for a baised question which recently emerged among young speakers of Tokyo dialect: Rise with Deaccentuation (RwD). In this intonational pattern, the lexical accent of the predicate is deleted while keeping the intonational rise utterance-finally. We observe that RwD is licit only when the speaker has direct evidence for the proposition being asked: RwD is a direct evidential marker which contributes to the expressive level of meaning (Potts 2005). Furthermore, we attempt to explain how the new semantic evidential meaning arose spontaneously. We speculate that evidential meaning can be decomposed into bias, contributed by negative rising question intonation, and giveness, expressed by deaccentuation.
(Joint work with Shigeto Kawahara (University of Massachusetts, Amherst/University of Georgia).)
Talk 2
Uli Sauerland, Centre for General Linguistics, Typology and Universals Research
Vagueness and Approximation
This paper is about vagueness in natural language as characterized by giving rise to the Sorites-Paradox. More specifically, we discuss lexical means of making vague assertions more or less precise. We call such expressions for the purposes of this paper Approximators. Examples of approximators are "exactly", "approximately", "definitely", and "roughly speaking". Our main claim is that the distribution of such expressions provides evidence for the view that vagueness in language comes in at least two varieties, which we call scalar and epistemic vagueness. Scalar vagueness, we analyze as a use of inherently precise expressions like "6 o'clock" or "bald" to refer to an interval on a scale determined by the current level of granularity. As cases of epistemic vagueness, we analyze expressions like "heap" and "tall" for which a precise meaning is not known.
(Joint work with Penka Stateva.)

Semantics Research Group

Last modified: 2007-07-24 11:08:07 JST