LIRa Session: Shane Steinert-Threlkeld

Speaker: Shane Steinert-Threlkeld (ILLC)

Date and Time: Thursday, March 7th 2019, 16:30-18:00

Venue: ILLC Seminar Room F1.15, Science Park 107.

Title: Explaining Semantic Universals.

Abstract. Semantic universals are properties of meaning that are attested in all of the languages of the world.  In this talk, I develop an explanation for why such universals arise: expressions satisfying them are easier to learn than those that do not.  Using techniques from machine learning, I show that this answer can provide a unified explanation of universals in three disparate linguistic domains, encompassing both function and content words: quantifiers, responsive predicates, and color terms.  I conclude by canvassing ongoing work on this project.