Logic and Language

Matthijs Westera: Meanings as proposals: an algebraic inquisitive semantics

Speaker: Matthijs Westera
Title: Meanings as proposals: an algebraic inquisitive semantics
Time: 16:00 - 16:00
Location: room A1.10, Science Park 904, Amsterdam

This is the 14th LeGO talk of this year. We look forward to seeing you there!

Your legonneurs, Inés and Paul

[Those who agreed upon this unanimously on Monday November 24 (1997) are all committed to be there.]


Within the framework of inquisitive semantics, two views on meaning exist that give rise to slightly different semantics. Basic inquisitive semantics, InqB, follows from the view that to utter a sentence is to provide and request information (Roelofsen, 2011). Unrestricted inquisitive semantics, InqU, follows from the view that to utter a sentence is to propose to update the common ground in any one of several ways (Ciardelli, Groenendijk, & Roelofsen, 2009). The latter, InqU, draws certain semantic distinctions that the former cannot - a fine-grainedness that has been used so far to give a semantics of the epistemic modal `might'. In this talk I will focus on the potential of InqU as a semantic foundation for a theory of discourse coherence.

However, the clauses of InqU have not been motivated conceptually with as much rigour as those of InqB, and they are technically not as well understood. I will precise its conceptual motivation and, based on it, derive the definition of InqU driven by general algebraic concerns. The algebraic backbone of InqU turns out to be a commutative, idempotent semiring, that gives rise to two natural orders, one corresponding to entailment, the other to a 'compliance' relation that captures a basic form of discourse coherence. Aside from a deeper technical understanding, the algebraic result facilitates an integration of inquisitive semantics with other formalisms. I will discuss its relation with propositional dynamic logic.

For more information, write to inescrespo at uva.nl or P.J.E.Dekker at uva.nl.