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Replicating the typology of linguistic inferences using non-words: From gestures to sound effects to emoji

Lyn Tieu, University of Toronto

Wed, 4/17 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 1-S-5 Green Hall

Program in Linguistics

Research in contemporary semantics has uncovered a typology of linguistic inferences, characterized by their conversational status and their behavior in complex sentences. This typology of linguistic inferences is usually thought to be specific to language and in part lexically encoded in the meanings of words. In this talk, I will present experimental evidence of implicatures, presuppositions, homogeneity inferences, and supplements, triggered variously by gestures, visual animations, sound effects, and emoji. The finding that we can replicate what are normally thought to be language-specific inferences – using non-words – raises new questions and challenges regarding the fundamental nature of linguistic inferences and how we might acquire them.


Lyn Tieu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of French at the University of Toronto. She is also an Adjunct Fellow with the MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour & Development at Western Sydney University and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University. Lyn conducts research in experimental and developmental semantics and pragmatics, using experimental methods to investigate the nature of linguistic meaning and how it is acquired by young children. Lyn also currently serves as Co-Editor-in-Chief at Glossa: a journal of general linguistics.

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