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Utrecht University, Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS
2-3 September 2013

In conjunction with XPRAG-2013

Invited Speakers:
Stephen Crain (Macquarie University)
James Hampton (City University London)
Hans Kamp (University of Stuttgart, University of Texas at Austin)

One of the hardest problems in experimental semantics and pragmatics is the way meanings of complex expressions are derived from simple lexical concepts and connected to concept representations. While concepts corresponding to simple words can be represented as feature lists or prototypes (Rosch & Mervis 1975, Hampton 2006), the ways in which such representations may be derived for composite expressions is highly puzzling, both in terms of experimental measures and in terms of formal analysis (Kamp & Partee 1995, Hampton & Jönsson 2012). Since the introduction of this problem by Osherson & Smith (1981), much experimental and theoretical work has been done by cognitive psychologists on the derivation of concept representations. However, in many ways this work has been carried out independently of related on-going work on meaning and use of logical operators (Crain/Khlentzos 2008) and compositionality (Bemis & Pylkkänen 2011). As a result, the interactions between concept combination, meaning and use of logical concepts, and compositionality principles have remained by and large underexplored.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together theoretical linguists, psycholinguists and cognitive psychologists in search of a common ground for on-going work on compositionality and concepts. Relevant questions are:

* Is there evidence for a general procedure mapping lexical concepts into concepts corresponding to complex expressions?
* Are there inherent and experimentally-supported distinctions between logical concepts (e.g. quantifiers, conjunctions and disjunction) and concepts corresponding to content words?
* How is the composition of concepts sensitive to contextual factors? Are there experimentally-supported generalizations to make in this domain?
* Are there significant distinctions in concept composition between different conceptual domains (space, time, quantification, boolean operators, colors, etc.)?
* What are the interactions between concept composition and phenomena involving vagueness, implicatures, or scalar expressions?

The workshop will be held in conjunction with XPRAG-2013, which is under the auspices of the ESF research network EuroXprag, and it is part of the VICI project “Between Logic and Common Sense” supported by NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.

Submission details:
We welcome abstracts containing no more than 2 pages, on new experimental findings or formal theoretical developments in the area of concept composition. Submit your abstract via EasyChair (CC&ESP 2013).

Important dates:
Submission deadline: April 1, 2013
Notification of acceptance: May 1, 2013

For practical questions, please email Choonkyu Lee (c.lee [at] or Eva Poortman (e.b.poortman [at]

Organizers (Utrecht University):
Choonkyu Lee
Eva Poortman
Yoad Winter

Selected References

Bemis, D. K. and L. Pylkkänen. 2011. Simple Composition: An MEG investigation into the comprehension of minimal linguistic phrases. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(8): 2801-2814.

Crain, S. 2008. The interpretation of disjunction in universal grammar. Language and Speech 51, 151-169.

Crain, S. and D. Khlentzos. 2008. Is logic Innate? Biolinguistics 2(1), 24-56.

Hampton, J. and M. L. Jönsson. 2012. Typicality and compositionality: The logic of combining vague concepts. In M. Werning, W. Hintzen and E. Machery (Eds.), pp. 385-402. Oxford Handbook of Compositionality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hampton, J. 2006. Concepts as Prototypes, in B.H.Ross (ed.), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation: Advances in Research and Theory, Vol. 46. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 79-113.

Kamp, H. and B. Partee. 1995. Prototype Theory and Compositionality. Cognition 57:129-191.

Osherson, D. and E. Smith. 1981. On the adequacy of prototype theory as a theory of concepts. Cognition 9:35-58.

Rosch, E. R. and C. B. Mervis. 1975. Family resemblances: studies in the internal structure of categories. Cognitive Psychology 7: 573-605.