Research Projects of the SFB 833

Section A

Inbuilt Dynamics: Context Dependency and Variability of Meaning

The meaning of linguistic entities features a high degree of variability and openness. In language usage, this uncertainty of meaning is dissolved by context sensitive interpretations in favour of a 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

A1 (Maienborn): Kombinatorische Bedeutungsvariation an der Semantik/Pragmatik-Schnittstelle
Hier geht es zum Projekt A1

A2 (Bauer/Beck): Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Interpretierbarkeit im Kontext
Hier geht es zum Projekt A2

A3 (Hinrichs): Korpusbasierte semantische Kompositionsmodelle für Phrasen
Hier geht es zum Projekt A3

A4 (Meurers): Bedeutungsvergleich im Kontext: Generalisierung von Informationsstruktur und Bezugstext
Hier geht es zum Projekt A4

A5 (Rapp): Variablenbelegung und Bedeutungsanreicherung bei infiniten Konstruktionen und anderen Einbettungsstrukturen
Hier geht es zum Projekt A5

A7 (Winkler): Fokus and Extraktion in komplexen Konstruktionen und Inselkonfigurationen
Hier geht es zum Projekt A7

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 the compositional processing. Existing interpretations of Frege's principle of compositionality are based on the sentence as a whole and ignore the temporal dimension of the 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.

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 universals laws or tendencies?