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Linguistic side effects

Dr. (Ken) Chung-Chieh Shan

Thursday, October 12, 2006, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Rutgers University, Department of Computer Science and Center For Cognitive Science

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How does the meaning of an utterance determine its effects on thediscourse and its participants? I study this question using tools from programming-language theory. In particular, how do utterances interact with each other in context? For example, pronouns in natural languages and variable references in programming languages both retrieve values from the context. In general, _computational side effects_ in programming languages and _apparently noncompositional phenomena_ in natural languages both let expressions access their contexts. This link stresses the dynamic, _operational_ view on meaning. For example, the notion of evaluation order unifies an unprecedented variety of linguistic generalizations: crossover in anaphora, superiority in questions, and ordering effects in polarity licensing and quantifier scope.

Dr. (Ken) Chung-Chieh Shan