Colloquium, 2/18 – Gillian Ramchand

Please join us Friday, February 18th at 3:30pm for our next talk of the 2021-2022 McGill Linguistics Colloquium Series. If you are planning to attend talks and have not yet registered, you can do so here (you only need to register once for the 2021-2022 year). After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Speaker: Gillian Ramchand (University of Tromsø)

Title: Verbal Symbols and Demonstrations Across Modalities


The evidence from syntax and morphology suggests that the extended projection of the verb is divided into typologically robustly attested zones (see Ramchand and Svenonius 2014).  The lowest part of each extended projection (whether nominal or verbal) is associated with open class lexical items, and the meanings of those items are notoriously hard to define and integrate into a compositional treatment of meaning without rampant allosemy.  In this talk I will argue that the truth conditional, or denotational view of lexical contents is misguided and that we should move to a more mentalistic view of the semantic content of open class lexical items. This will involve reifying the symbol and the demonstrative act of reference as a way of mediating between mentalistic contents and assertions which have worldly truthmakers. I show that the neo-quotational view of compositional semantics (as I will call it),allows for a more satisfying account of iconic and gestural meaning, and gives a new perspective on indexical shift.

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