- Formal semantics
(in particular: imperatives and clause types, non-truth-conditional meaning, modality, tense, causality)
- Formal approaches to the study of pragmatics and discourse
(in particular: Game-, Decision- and Optimality-theoretic approaches)
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.
Implicatures and Gricean reasoning
Mandatory implicatures, implicatures and (in)felicity,
Need A Reason implicatures, and related matters.
- Chapter 9 of Lauer, Sven (2013): Towards a dynamic pragmatics, PhD dissertation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
- Sven Lauer (2014): Mandatory implicatures in Gricean pragmatics.
in N. Goodman, M. Franke and J. Degen (eds.)
Proceedings of the Formal & Experimental Pragmatics Workshop, p. 21-28, Tübingen, Germany. [pdf]
- Sven Lauer (2014): Biscuits and provisos: Conveying unconditional information by conditional means. In: Csipak, E. and Zeijlstra, H. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 19, Göttingen. [pdf]
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.
- 2009, with Cleo Condoravdi: Performing A Wish: Desiderative Assertions and Performativity. California University Semantics and Pragmatics (CUSP) 2, UCSC [handout]
- 2010, with Cleo Condoravdi: Imperatives and Public Commitments Talk at the 11th SemFest,
Stanford University [handout]
- 2010, Cleo Condoravdi and Sven Lauer: Speaking of Preferences: Imperative and Desiderative Assertions in Context Speaking of Possibility and Time: The 7th Workshop on Inferential Mechanisms and their Linguistic Manifestation, University of Göttingen, Germany [handout]
- (with Cleo Condoravdi) Commitments to Act: Content and Contextual Effects of explicit performatives. Talk in the Construction of Meaning Workshop, October 22, 2010, Stanford University.[handout extending the previous one to come]
- forthcoming, Cleo Condoravdi and Sven Lauer Imperatives: Meaning and illocutionary force, in C. Piñon (ed.), Empirical Issues in Syntax and Semantics 9, Papers from the Colloque de Syntaxe et Sémantique à Paris [pdf]
See also the last two handouts for our NASSLLI course, as well as Chapters 3-6 of my dissertation.
While I generally remove references to handouts from this page once their content has been covered in a published paper, the handouts listed above remain because they have been referenced in print and present slightly different takes resulting from various stages of our thinking about the topic.
- 2011, with Cleo Condoravdi Performative Verbs and Performative Acts in I. Reich (ed.), Proceedings of Sinn and Bedeutung (SuB) 15, Universaar – Saarland Unversity Press, Saarbrücken, Germany [pdf]
- Chapter 7 of Lauer, Sven (2013): Towards a dynamic pragmatics, PhD dissertation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
Exclamatives and expressive meaning
- 2012, with Anna Chernilovskaya and Cleo Condoravdi How to Express Yourself:
On the Discourse Effect of Wh-Exclamatives. Talk at the 30th West Coast
Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 30), at the University of California
Santa Cruz, April 13-15, 2012 [handout, (PDF)]
- to appear, with Anna Chernilovskaya and Cleo Condoravdi: On the discourse effect of wh-exclmatives, to appear in Nate Arnett and Ryan Bennett (eds.), Proceedings of the 30th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 30), Cascadilla Press [preprint (pdf)]
(The WCCFL-proceedings paper only covers the empirical part of
our talk. The handout contains also an outline of our theoretical
proposal on the matter. A manuscript laying this out in detail is
soon to come.)
- 2012, with Cleo Condoravdi: The basic dynamic effect of interrogative utterances, talk presented at TLS 13, UT-Austin, 2012 [slides (pdf)]
Anankastic and similar conditionals
(Joint work with Cleo Condoravdi.)
Anankastic conditionals as involving effective preferences. Varieties of Anankasticity.
- 2012: Anankastic conditionals are just conditionals, presented at the Construction of Meaning Workshop, Stanford University, May, 2012 [handout (pdf)].
Versions of this talk have been presented at various other places.
- Lauer, Sven and Cleo Condoravdi (2014): Preference-conditioned necessities: detachment and practical reasoning, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 95(4), 584-621. [preprint (pdf)][official version (pdf)]
- Condoravdi, Cleo and Sven Lauer (2014): Anankastic conditionals are just conditionals, manuscript, Stanford University and University of Konstanz [manuscript (pdf)]
- 2015: Hypothetical facts and hypothetical ideals in the temporal dimension, Workshop Modelling Conditionality, 37th Annual Meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, Leipzig, March 4-6, 2015 [slides (pdf)]
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.
- 2010, A Pragmatic Account of Loose Talk at California Universities Semantics and Pragmatics (CUSP) 3, October 15-16, 2010, Stanford University. [handout]
- 2011: On the pragmatics of pragmatic slack at Sinn und Bedeutung 16, Universiteit Utrecht. [handout]
- 2011: Varieties of Compositionality and Loose Talk, talk at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main [handout]
- 2012 On the pragmatics of pragmatic slack in A. Aguilar, R. Nouwen and A. Chernilovskaya (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn and Bedeutung (SuB) 16, MIT Working papers in Linguistics, Cambridge, MA. [prefinal pdf][full proceedings on semanticsarchive.net]
Causation, Causatives, Counterfactuals, and their ilk
English periphrastic causatives. cause vs. make. Causal necessity and causal sufficiency. Causatives in Japanese and Korean.
- 2009: ‘Causative’ make: A veridical, metaphysical conditional? Talk at the Workshop on Counterfactuals, Causality and Inertia. Stanford University. [pdf]
- 2010: Periphrastic Causatives in English: What do they mean? Manuscript based on my 2nd Qualifying Paper, Stanford University. [pdf]
- 2011: Necessity and Sufficiency in the Semantics of English Periphrastic Causatives at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), January 6-9, 2011, Pittsburgh, PA. [handout/formal appendix]
- 2011: Making things happen: Sufficiency causatives in English and Japanese (and German?) at the Workshop on aspect and modality in lexical semantics, Universität Stuttgart [slides in handout format]
I also organized a Workshop on Counterfactuals, Causality and Inertia (nick-named the N3C-workshop), in the Fall of 2009.
-ever free relatives, German irgend-indefinites, Spanish algún.
The notion of postsuppositions in a dynamic semantics.
- 2009: Free relatives with -ever: Meaning and Use. Qualifying Paper, Stanford University. [pdf]
- Manuscript: Some News on irgendein and algún [pdf]
- I was involved in (part of) the data collection and some initial analyses
of the Cards corpus
of collaborative task-oriented dialogues.
(My collaborators, in particular Chris Potts and Alex Djalali,
deserve a large share of the credit for these two papers.)
- Djalali, Alex, David Clausen, Sven Lauer, Karl Schultz, and Christopher Potts (2011): Modeling expert effects and common ground using Questions Under Discussion Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Building Representations of Common Ground with Intelligent Agents Washington, DC: Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
- Djalali, Alex, Sven Lauer, and Christopher Potts (2012): Corpus evidence for preference-driven interpretation in Maria Aloni, Vadim Kimmelman, Floris Roelofsen, Galit Weidman Sassoon, Katrin Schulz, and Matthijs Westera (eds.) Proceedings of the 18th Amsterdam Colloquium: Revised Selected Papers Berlin: Springer.
- I was involved in the genesis of a project on the mass/count distinction. The main claim of this work is that the mass/count distinction is neither a contrast that is observed in the world, nor one that is a matter of arbitrary linguistic convention, but rather a contrast in conceptualization. This entails that we can model the effects of this distinction only if we allow a level of conceptual representation to mediate the relation between language and the world. grinding and packaging phenomena can be viewed as contextual shifts in conceptualization, which may deliver an explanation of why grinding and packaging are far from "universal", that is, why, despite common lore, not every mass noun can be used with count syntax and not every count noun can be used with count syntax. A preliminary outcome of this project was
Despite my continued interest in the implications of this work, I have left this project in the hands of my able collaborators. See their websites for new developments on this general theme. A recent, related talk on that is closely related to this project was:
- (with David Clausen, Alex Djalali, Scott Grimm, B. Levin, and T. Rojas-Esponda) Extension, Ontological Type, and Morphosyntactic Class: Three Ingredients of Countability, Conference on Empirical, Theoretical and Computational Approaches to Countability in Natural Language Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Germany, September 22-24, 2010. [Extended abstract, pdf] [updated slides in pdf]
- Department of Linguistics, University of Konstanz, Germany.
- Summer 2014: Semantik I (Introduction to Formal Semantics)
- 4th NASSLLI, Idiana University, Bloomington, IN.
Imperative Meaning in Context [course webpage]
(Co-taught with Cleo Condoravdi)
- Department of Linguistics, Stanford University, CA.
- Winter 2011: Logic & Language Lab
Accompanying Introduction to Linguistic Meaning, taught by Chris Potts.
- Spring 2010: Introduction to Linguistics
Lecturer: Vivienne Fong
- Fall 2009: Introduction to Syntax
Lecturer: Tom Wasow
- Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Osnabrück, Germany.
- Summer 2005: Introduction to Computational Linguistics
Lecturers: Graham Katz and Stefan Evert
- Winter 2004/05: Introduction to Linguistics
Lecturer: Graham Katz
- Summer 2002: Introduction to Computational Linguistics
Lecturers: Peter Bosch and Sabine Reinhart