This page displays the upcoming and past meetings of the NihiL seminar. The meetings take place biweekly, usually on Tuesday at 16:00 in the ILLC seminar room F1.15 in Science Park 107 and online. If you would like to attend a particular session online or to be added to the mailing list please contact Søren Brinck Knudstorp. The seminar meetings alternate with the meetings of New Trends in Formal Semantics reading group.

ILLC seminar room F1.15 in Science Park 107 Zoom: https://uva-live.zoom.us/j/87618965843

Formalizing and reasoning epistemic might in multi-agent scenarios

**Abstract:** The goal of this work is to explore the properties of epistemic might and its interaction with knowledge and belief in multi-agent scenarios. Analogous to the predicate of taste, epistemic might is argued to be sensitive to an agent’s perspectives. In a multi-agent setting, the perspective-sensitivity could potentially reshape our conventional understanding of epistemic might. For example, epistemic contradictions may disappear in a dialogue environment, and factive inferences for know-might sentences are valid only under specific constraints.
To tackle these issues, we propose a framework that merges BSEL models—an epistemic variant of BSML—and a two-dimensional semantics for Epistemic Friendship Logic (Seligman et al., 2011, 2013). The resulting model bring the locality of epistemic might and a mechanism of perspective shifting together to model the perspective sensitivity. In addition, the knower(s) of an might-claim can be explicitly represented in the model. Through this point, we can more deeply distinguish between a believe-might sentence and a know-might sentence. This is a joint work with Maria Aloni and Fenrong Liu.

ILLC seminar room F1.15 in Science Park 107 Zoom: https://uva-live.zoom.us/j/87618965843

TBD

**Abstract:** TBD

ILLC seminar room F1.15 in Science Park 107 Zoom: https://uva-live.zoom.us/j/87618965843

TBD

**Abstract:** TBD

**Abstract:** According to a recent cognitively motivated theory of natural language quantification, so-called empty-set quantifiers are extraordinarily difficult to interpret because their verification algorithm involves one specific rule intended to handle empty-set situations. The rule relies on the explicit representation of objects in the restrictor set that are not in the scope set. This type of encoding is assumed to be cognitively costly because the cognitive system is tuned to encoding the presence of properties rather than their absence, a strategy viable for non-empty-set quantifiers but doomed to failure for empty-set quantifiers. In this talk, I give an overview of the proposal’s theoretical merits as well as experimental results that support it and rule out a number of alternative accounts. The experimental results include data from the comprehension and verification of German simply and doubly quantified sentences as well as the verification of empty-set quantifiers in `außer’-(`

besides’)-phrases. In addition, I provide an outlook covering potential future directions for empirical research and theoretical extensions.

**Abstract:** The disjunction embedded in the scope of a universal quantifier, (e.g., Every X is A or B) gives raise to so-called ‘Diversity’ inferences (D-inferences, e.g., Some Xs are A and Some Xs are B). According to the traditional implicature approach, D-inferences are implicatures that arise via the ‘Negative Universal’ inferences (NU-inferences, the negations of Every X is A and Every X is B). Crnic et al. (2015) provided experimental evidence (i) that D-inferences are independent from NU-inferences, however, they argued (ii) that for disjunction in the scope of a universal modal the D-inferences cannot be observed independently of the NU-inferences.

In this talk, I will present two experiments that have tested the availability of D-inferences in the absence of NU-inferences for the determiner every and the epistemic (Experiment 1) and deontic (Experiment 2) modals must. The results show that, for both types of quantifiers, D-inferences could be derived independently of NU-inferences. The findings make a two-fold contribution: the results for the modal cases go against the predictions (ii); and the response time results from both experiments challenge the implicature-based approach to D-inferences.

**Abstract:** I will discuss some consequences of the combination of Neglect Zero with a non-classical definition of rejection, which allows us to derive contradictory and contrary readings of negation as illocutionary effects. I will focus on three applications: an account of homogeneity inferences, an hypothesis about lexical simplicity, and an account of lexication patterns of inclusive and exclusive operators (words like even and only).

**Abstract:** My talk will be on an application of BSML (or in fact of a variant) in natural language interpretation and my focus will be on the possibility to interpret natural language sentences “from left to right”, or, more accurately, following the linguistic precedence order. Left-to-right interpretation seems key in understanding how semantics and pragmatics interact, as Stalnaker and Karttunen already saw in the 1970s.

Officially, the logic I use is classical type theory, but I’ll show that the BSML ideas can be reproduced within a certain domain of that logic, the domain of functions from states to functions from truth-values to truth-values. The reason why these ideas help with modelling left-to-right interpretation has to do with the fact that bilateral negation and split disjunction each in their own way can be viewed as mechanisms that push essential information to the atomic level. Another mechanism, available in classical logic, that does this is Skolemisation. With the help of these a refutational tableau calculus for natural language can be set up that has the property that the order of the branches of its trees is closely aligned with the precedence order of elements in the sentence under interpretation. Semantics-pragmatics interaction will be modelled as the combination of interleaved processes of developing such a tree, abductively contradicting its open branches from left to right (taking context into consideration), and adding the contradicting information to context. The talk will mainly be concerned with the first of these aspects and the role of BSML in it.

**Abstract:** The game-theoretical or so-called dual negation of independence-friendly logic and dependence logic does not correspond to any well-defined semantic operation: the class of models of a sentence does not determine the class of models of its dual negation, so the dual negations of two equivalent sentences need not be equivalent. Burgess showed (in the equivalent context of Henkin sentences) that this lack of determination is extreme in the sense that for any pair of sentences A and B of dependence logic which share no models, there is a sentence C such that A is equivalent to C and the dual negation of C is equivalent to B. So given only the class of models X of a sentence, all we know of the class of models Y of its negation is that Y is the class of models of some sentence of dependence logic, and that X and Y share no models. Bilateral State-based Modal Logic (BSML) is a modal logic employing team semantics developed to model natural language phenomena such as free choice inference. BSML makes use of a bilateral negation which is essentially the same notion as the dual negation. We show that Burgess’ result also holds for BSML.

**Abstract:** Indefinites are known to give rise to different scopal (specific vs non-specific) and epistemic (known vs unknown) uses. Farkas & Brasoveanu (2020) explained these specificity distinctions in terms of stability vs. variability in value assignments of the variable introduced by the indefinite. Typological research (Haspelmath 1997) showed that indefinites have different functional distributions with respect to these uses. In this work, we present a formal framework where Farkas & Brasoveanu (2020)’s ideas are rigorously formalized. We develop a two-sorted team semantics using tools from dependence logic (Väänänen 2007) and model these uses by means of dependence and non-dependence atoms. We apply the framework to explain typological variety of indefinites, their restricted distribution and licensing conditions, as well as some diachronic developments of indefinite forms. We also use the inclusion atom to capture the difference between epistemic and deontic modals. We conclude by offering a novel notion of negation, intensional negation.

**Abstract:** Bilateral State-based Modal Logic (BSML) is a modal logic employing team/state-based semantics which can be used to model free choice inference and other natural language phenomena. We introduce a natural deduction system for BSML as well as for two extensions: BSML with the inquisitive disjunction and BSML with a novel emptiness operator. We also study the expressive power of these logics—we show that the two extensions are expressively complete.