Sven Lauer

is the director of the Emmy Noether project What is it to ask a question? A formal pragmatic investigation of interrogative force at the Zukunftskolleg and the Department of Linguistics at the University of Konstanz.

His main research interests are in formal approaches to the study of pragmatics and discourse (in particular: the form-force mapping, clause types, implicatures and other pragmatic inferences) and formal semantics (in particular: imperatives, interrogatives, exclamatives, non-truth-conditional meaning, modality, conditionals, tense, causatives, free-choice). More details are available in his CV (pdf).


Upcoming talks and presentations

Recent papers & Manuscripts


My dissertation Towards a dynamic pragmatics (Stanford, 2013) ties in with many of the topics below. It develops the foundations of a formal system for the study of pragmatics that faithfully models Gricean pragmatic inference as interlocutors' reasoning about each other's utterance choices. The framework is applied to issues involving clause typing and the form/force mapping, as well as the study of conversational implicatures.

Ongoing work

Implicatures and Gricean reasoning

Mandatory implicatures, implicatures and (in)felicity, Need A Reason implicatures, and related matters.

Papers & Chapters

Anankastic and similar conditionals

(Joint work with Cleo Condoravdi.) Anankastic and near-anankastic conditionals: Their semantics, pragmatics, inferential properties and temporal interpretation.


The two papers are companions of a sort: Anankastic conditionals are just conditionals lays out our account of the semantics of anankastic and near-anankastic conditionals and discusses the existing linguistic literature in some depth, Preference-conditioned necessities: ... is concerned with the (pragmatic) question of how (many) anankastic conditionals can be used to give advice and takes the semantic account as a starting point for a discussion of certain philosophical concerns about practical reasoning and the requirements of rationality.

Other materials

Clause types and Performativity

(Joint work with Cleo Condoravdi.) Imperatives and clause-typing. The form-force mapping and the semantics/pragmatics "interface". Explicit performatives and performative uses of modals, desideratives, and other expressions.

Papers & Chapters

Other materials

Quantified conditionals

(Joint work with Prerna Nadathur.) Quantifiers and if-clauses. most, many and focus-sensitivity. And tense.


Loose Talk and Pragmatic Slack


Other materials

Causation, Causatives, Counterfactuals, and their ilk

English periphrastic causatives. cause vs. make. Causal necessity and causal sufficiency. Causatives in Japanese and Korean.


Other materials

Free Choice

-ever free relatives, German irgend-indefinites, Spanish algún. The notion of postsuppositions in a dynamic semantics.

Other work