Research Projects of the SFB 833

Section A

Inbuilt Dynamics: Context Dependency and Variability of Meaning

The meaning of linguistic entities displays a high degree of variability and openness. In language usage, this uncertainty of meaning is dissolved by context sensitive interpretations in favour of very little variance. Especially for the domain of sentences, it is not yet clear how this identification of specific meaning takes place. Which linguistic mechanisms are responsible for these context sensitive interpretations? How do combinatory principles of sentence meaning interact with pragmatic strategies in an evaluation of meaning?

Projects in Section A

Project A1 (Maienborn): Combinatory Meaning Adaptions at the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface

Project A2 (Bauer/Beck): Interpretability in Context

Project A3 (Hinrichs): Corpus-based Semantic Composition Models for Phrases

Project A4 (Meurers): Comparing Meaning in Context: Generalization of Information Structure and Reference Text

Project A5 (Rapp):  Meaning Constitution with Non-Finite Verb Forms: Variable Assignment and Meaning Enrichment with Non-Finite Constructions and Other Embedded Structures

Project A7 (Winkler): Focus and Extraction in Complex Constructions and Islands

Section B

Dynamics of Cognitive Processes in Sentence Comprehension

A lot is known in syntax about the characteristics of cognitive processes that are triggered by linguistic structures; the sub-processes of online interpretation, in particular the composition of meaning, are far less well-understood. One central question is how the supposed incrementality of cognitive processes can be related to theories of compositional processing. Existing interpretations of Frege's principle of compositionality are based on the sentence as a whole and ignore the temporal dimension of semantic processing almost completely. The size and nature of sub-sentential units to which the various aspects of an incremental computation of meaning refer, and the processes that control the actual composition of meaning in time, are therefore unresolved issues.

Projects in Section B

Project B1 (Hohaus/Stolterfoht/Ulrich): Incrementality in Semantic Processing

Project B2 (Bott/Franke/Jäger/Janczyk): Time Course of Presupposition Processing

Project B4 (Kaup/Leuthold): The Experiential Simulation View of Language Comprehension: How is Sentence Meaning Composed?

Project B5 (Lidzba/Winkler/Krägeloh-Mann): The Syntax and Semantics of Reorganized Language and its Neuronal Architecture (2009-2013)

Project B7 (Ulrich/Maienborn): Language Processing and Temporal Cognition

Project B8 (Stolterfoht): Position and Interpretation: Syntactic, Semantic and Information-Structural Constraints in Processing Adjuncts (2011-2021)

Project B9 (Friedrich/Weber): Getting a Grip on Non-Literal Meaning: The Dynamics of Understanding Idiomatic Expressions in Language Learners (2014-2021)

Section C

The Grammar as a Dynamic System: Semantic Variation and Variability

Research in crosslinguistic variation has traditionally focused on morphology and syntax. Mechanisms of interpretation have commonly been regarded as universal. However, linguistic structures describing the same state of affairs often seem to differ substantially in individual languages. It is therefore reasonable to also expect variation within the semantic component of grammar. - What are the possibilities and limitations of such semantic variation? Where and how is semantic variation located in a given grammar? How did it develop, and what possibilities are there for language change? In how far does language change obey universal laws or tendencies?

Projects in Section C

Project C1 (Beck): Variation in the Interpretation Component of the Grammar

Project C2 (Berger): Verbal Aspect in Context: Contextual Dynamization vs. Grammar

Project C3 (Kabatek): Variation and Dynamics of Nominal Determination (2009-2014)

Project C4 (Koch/Jäger/Winter-Froemel/Dessì Schmid): Phenomena of Ambiguity in the Diachrony of Romance Languages: Verbs and Participants / Phenomena of Ambiguity in Diachrony and in Typological Comparison: Existence and Location (2009-2017)

Project C6 (Axel-Tober/Featherston): The Expression of Extra-propositional Meaning – Diachrony and Synchrony (2013-2021)

Project C7 (Dessì Schmid/Mihatsch): Verbal and Nominal Aspectuality Between Lexicon and Grammar (2015-2021)