Semantics and Pragmatics

Common to work in semantics and pragmatics at UCSC is a formal approach to theoretically relevant problems grounded in detailed investigation of empirical data coming from a variety of languages. A thread uniting the research of the faculty and students here is attention to both semantic and pragmatic factors with particular emphasis on understanding language in context. Research topics, theoretical tools and languages considered are quite diverse. Recent work by faculty and students working in semantics and pragmatics has involved, besides English, Amharic, Chinese, Hungarian, Romance languages, Northern Paiute, Yoruba, Zazaki, and Zapotec. Topics currently investigated by faculty and students are distributivity, number interpretation, indefinites, propositional attitude predicates, affective language, noun phrase scope, and the semantics and pragmatics of polarity particles across languages. See the faculty members' and dissertators' websites below for more details.




Recent Alumni (see allrecent)

  • Lisa Hofmann (PhD) 2022, Anaphora and Negation
  • Kelsey Sasaki (PhD) 2021, Components of Coherence
  • Tom Roberts  (PhD) 2021, How to make believe: inquisitivity, veridicality, and evidentiality in belief reports
  • Margaret Kroll (PhD) 2020, Comprehending Ellipsis
  • Deniz Rudin (PhD) 2018, Rising Above Commitment 
  • Kelsey Kraus (PhD) 2018, Great Intonations
  • Karen Duek (PhD) 2017, Sorting a complex world: an experimental study of polysemy and copredication in container and committee nominals
  • Karl DeVries  (PhD) 2016, Independence Friendly Dynamic Semantics: Integrating Exceptional Scope, Anaphora and their Interactions
  • Oliver Northrup (PhD) 2014, Grounds for Commitment
  • Robert Henderson (PhD) 2012, Ways of Pluralizing Events
  • Scott AnderBois (PhD) 2011, Issues and Alternatives 
  • Kyle Rawlins (PhD) 2008, Concession, Conditionals and Free Choice
  • Peter Alrenga, 2007 Dimensionality in the Semantics of Comparatives
  • James Isaacs, 2007 Supposition in Discourse
  • Lynsey Wolter, 2006 That's That: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Demonstrative Noun Phrases
  • Christopher Potts, 2003 The Logic of Conventional Implicature
  • Christine Gunlogson, 2001 True to Form: Rising and Falling Declaratives as Questions in English
  • Ryan Bush, 2000 A Typology of Focal Categories
  • Chris Kennedy, 1997 Projecting the Adjective: The Syntax and Semantics of Gradability and Comparison
  • Theodore Fernald, 1994 On the Nonuniformity of the Individual- and Stage-Level Effects
  • Michael Johnston, 1994 The Semantics of Adverbial Adjuncts
  • Louise McNally, 1992 An Interpretation for the English Existential Construction
  • Chris Barker, 1991 Possessive Descriptions

Research Visitors

Labs and Research Groups

Artifacts from our Work

  • inquisitive semantic depiction of classical disjunction
  • beanplot of normed acceptability judgements for epistemic modals pooled across doxastic, factive, and emotive factive contexts
  • Verification task image for the study of plurals in quantificational contexts: Is each baby in yellow playing with teddy bears?
  • Preferences for wide scope exhibited by 17 quantifiers in a corpus of LSAT logic puzzles (controlling for linear order and grammatical function)