This blog will report the research activities of the project “On the Interactions between Meaning Types: Compositionality and Discourse Structure” (FFI2015-66732-P) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Economy and Competitiveness (MIEC).

Recently, there has been a revived and growing interest in the formal and compositional study of meaning types that do not contribute to the main point of the assertion. The implementation of experimental methodologies through collaborations with psycholinguists, on the one hand, and the increasing effort to formally analyze previously underdescribed languages, on the other, constitute a promising source of scientific knowledge in the domain of semantics and its interfaces with syntax, morphology and pragmatics. The general purpose of MEAT is to gain a better understanding of the linguistic mechanisms that underlie the interaction of content types (at-issue, implicated, presupposed) in the semantic composition of complex expressions of natural language. In order to do so, we aim to provide detailed and precise, formally and explanatorily-adequate analyses of the building blocks of linguistic expressions that fall within three main case studies, namely gradability and evaluativity (subjective and presupposed meaning components denoted by degree expressions), dispositionality (effort and willful readings in abilitative modals) and discourse structure (speech acts, rhetorical relations and information packaging). Our focus will be on the meanings that are not asserted but implicated or presupposed, and the way they interact with asserted meaning components. We aim to address research questions that concern three axes: compositionality (How do different meaning types interact across dimensions?), our theoretical framework (What is the most adequate model to represent such interaction?) and our methodology (How should we collect empirical evidence that provides crisp answers to the previous questions?). By taking into consideration both cross-linguistic and experimentally-collected data, and by remaining faithful to the broad theoretical framework of formal semantics, we hope to provide critical evidence that leads us to challenge or refine current formal models of the structure of discourse, as well as to increase and disseminate our scientific knowledge of natural language.

The members of MEAT, and bloggers in this site, are the following (appearing in alphabetical order):

Elena Castroviejo
Katherine Fraser
Berit Gehrke
Laia Mayol
Zoltan Zato