Linguistics - Monographs, Papers and Research

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This is a collection of monographs, papers and research in the area of Linguistics.


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    Pictorial Free Perception
    Abusch, Dorit; Rooth, Mats (2022-05-23)
    Pictorial free perception reports are sequences in comics or film of one unit that depicts an agent who is looking, and a following unit that depicts what they see. This paper proposes an analysis in possible worlds semantics and event semantics of such sequences. Free perception sequences are implicitly anaphoric, since the interpretation of the second unit refers to the agent depicted in the first. They are argued to be possibly non-extensional, because they can depict hallucination or mis-perception. The semantics proposed here employs an account of anaphora using discourse referents, a formalized possible worlds semantics for pictorial narratives, and, to model the epistemic consequences of perceptual events, the event alternative construction from dynamic epistemic logic. In intensional examples, the second unit depicting what is seen is analyzed as embedded. It is argued that a semantics for embedding where the attitudinal state of the depicted agent is required to entail the semantic content of the picture attributes too much information to the agent. This is addressed with a model of normal looking, and a semantics for the embedding construction that uses existential quantification over alternatives, rather than universal quantification.
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    Comments on “Unreliability and Point of View in Filmic Narration”
    Abusch, Dorit (2022-03-14)
    This paper comments on Emar Maier's "Unreliability and point of view in filmic narration". It is suggested that, without having discourse representations that include embedding operators, films can be unreliable in the broad sense of having propositional contents that depart from inferable, realistic scenarios. Second, films and embedded shots in film can convey agent-centered information without being composed of point-of-view shots. The reason is that the discourse representation can include information about discourse referents that identifies a depicted individual as a counterpart of the experiencer.
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    Temporal and Intensional Pictorial Conflation
    Abusch, Dorit; Rooth, Mats (2022-03-12)
    This paper proposes accounts in possible worlds semantics of temporally conflated pictorial narratives, and intensionally conflated pictorial narratives. The semantics for film shots and panels in comics that are embedded unter attitudes such as imagining and dreaming uses de se interpretation and existential modality, strengthened by a normality condition.
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    Alternative semantics
    Rooth, Mats (Oxford University Press, 2016)
    This chapter presents the semantics and pragmatics of prosodic focus in alternative semantics. Half a dozen examples are given of empirical phenomena that are to be covered by the theory. Then a syntax marking the locus, scope, and antecedent for focus is introduced. The syntax is interpreted semantically and pragmatically by a presupposition involving alternatives. The alternative sets that are used in the definition are computed compositionally using a recursive definition. Alternatives are also employed in the semantics of questions, and this ties in with the phenomenon of question-answer congruence, where the position of focus in an answer matches questioned positions in the question. A different semantic interpretation for focus is entailment semantics, which uses a generalized entailment condition in place of a condition involving alternatives. The semantic and pragmatic interpretation for contrastive topic uses an additional layer of alternatives. Independent of focus, alternatives are deployed in the semantics of disjunction and of negative polarity items. Author's preprint.
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    Adverbs of quantification
    Rooth, Mats (2019-07-12)
    Article on David Lewis's Adverbs of Quantification (1975), prepared for A Reader's Guide to Classical Papers in Formal Semantics, Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy 100, edited by Zoltan Szabo and Luise McNally. Author's version of July 12, 2019.
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    The formal semantics of free perception in pictorial narratives
    Abusch, Dorit; Rooth, Mats (2017)
    This paper semantically analyzes “free perception” sequences in pictorial narratives such as comics, where one panel shows a character looking, and the next panel shows what they see. Pictorial contents are assumed to be viewpoint-centered propositions. A framework for the representation of pictorial narratives is used where indexing and embedding of certain panels is characterized by hidden operators. The resulting enriched pictorial narratives are interpreted in a dynamic framework. A possible worlds construction using action alternatives captures the epistemic effect of perceptual actions. Free perception sequences are implicitly anaphoric, as analyzed using cross-panel indexing. It is argued that some cases of free perception are truly intensional, and must involve embedding in the framework that is employed. Examples are drawn from comics and film. Appears in Proceedings of the 21st Amsterdam Colloquium, 2017.
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    Picture descriptions and centered content
    Rooth, Mats; Abusch, Dorit (University of Edinburgh/CreateSpace, 2018)
    There is an argument based on sentences that describe pictures in favor of a viewpoint- centered possible worlds semantics for pictures, over a propositional semantics (J. Ross 1997). The argument involves perspectival lexical items such as “front”. We show that when a projective possible worlds semantics for pictures is employed, there is a problem with the argument coming from propositional contents being strong. The argument is reconstructed in a model modal space involving linear worlds, and it is shown that it works there, by computing the possible worlds semantics. The construction involves propositions and centered propositions that are regular sets of strings. Finally, by manipulating the marking parameter in a projective semantics for pictures, the argument is reconstructed also for 3D models. Appears in Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21, 2018.
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    Indexing across media
    Rooth, Mats; Abusch, Dorit (ILLC, University of Amsterdam, 2019-12)
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    Finite state intensional semantics
    Rooth, Mats (2017-10)
    The paper presents a computable formulation of Hintikka semantics for clausal complements and partition semantics for questions in a framework where worlds are strings, propositions are regular sets of worlds, and epistemic acquaintance relations and question meanings are regular relations between worlds. A logical language is defined in a finite state calculus with function definitions, where terms denote regular sets of strings, interpreted as propositions. An interface to English syntax uses an extended categorial grammar.
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    Possible worlds semantics for pictures
    Abusch, Dorit (2015-12-06)
    Possible worlds semantics for pictures is reviewed. Pictures are mapped to propositional semantic values by a geometric method. On this basis, an account of the temporal interpretation of pictorial narratives is constructed. Another pragmatic aspect of pictorial narratives is anaphora or indexing across pictures in a sequence. An argument based on sentences that describe pictures indicates that the semantics for pictures should represent a distinguished viewpoint. There is an analogy between ambiguity in language and ambiguous pictures. Perceptual semantics for pictures considers the effect of pictures on viewers.
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    Acoustic Classification of Focus: On the Web and in the Lab
    Howell, Jonathan; Rooth, Mats; Wagner, Michael (2016-02-26)
    We present a new methodological approach which combines both naturally-occurring speech “harvested” on the web and speech data elicited in the laboratory. This proof-of-concept study examines the phenomenon of focus sensitivity, in which the interpretation of particular grammatical constructions (e.g. the English comparative) is sensitive to the location of prosodic prominence. Machine learning algorithms (support vector machines and linear discriminant analysis) and human perception experiments are used to cross-validate the web-harvested and lab-elicited speech. Results confirm the theoretical predictions for location of prominence in comparative clauses and the advantages using both web-harvested and lab-elicited speech. The most robust acoustic classifiers include paradigmatic (i.e. un-normalized), non-intonational acoustic measures (duration and relative formant frequencies from single segments). These acoustic cues are also significant predictors of human listeners’ classification, offering new evidence in the decades-old debate surrounding the role of syntagmatic (i.e. utterance-normalized) and intonational acoustic cues of semantic focus.
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    Headed span theory in the finite state calculus
    Rooth, Mats (2016-01-02)
    A development of headed span theory in the finite state calculus. Slides for colloquium presentation at University of Delaware, March 20, 2014.
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    Representing Focus Scoping over New
    Rooth, Mats (GLSA, Amherst, MA, 2015)
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    Harvesting speech datasets for linguistic research on the web
    Rooth, Mats; Howell, Jonathan; Wagner, Michael (2013-10-29)
    This is a white paper for a project that harvested audio and transcribed data from podcasts and news broadcasts on the web. Tools were developed to analyze the different uses of prosody (rhythm, stress and intonation) within spoken communication using phonetic analysis and machine learning.
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    A web application for filtering and annotating web speech data
    Lutz, David; Cadwallader, Parry; Rooth, Mats (Special Interest Group of the ​Association for Computational Linguistics on Web as Corpus (ACL SIGWAC), 2013-07-22)
    A vast and growing amount of recorded speech is freely available on the web, including podcasts, radio broadcasts, and posts on media-sharing sites. However, finding specific words or phrases in online speech data remains a challenge for researchers, not least because transcripts of this data are often automatically-generated and imperfect. We have developed a web application, “ezra”, that addresses this challenge by allowing non-expert and potentially remote annotators to filter and annotate speech data collected from the web and produce large, high-quality data sets suitable for speech research. We have used this application to filter and annotate thousands of speech tokens. Ezra is freely available on GitHub1, and development continues.
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    Applying Discourse Semantics and Pragmatics to Co-reference in Picture Sequences
    Abusch, Dorit (2012-12-15)
    This paper looks at co­‐indexing in pictorial narratives such as comics. Using a formal‐semantic model of the content of pictures, it is argued that depicted objects are existentially quantified, and are identified post-­semantically. A DRT model for pictorial narratives is proposed where discourse referents are constructed as areas of a picture.
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    On modal interpretations of the French conditionnel
    Howell, Jonathan (GLSA, UMass, 2012)
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    Second Occurrence Focus and the Acoustics of Prominence
    Howell, Jonathan (Oxford University Press, 2011)
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    Circumstantial and Temporal Dependence in Counterfactual Modals
    Abusch, Dorit (2012-02-19)
    “Counterfactual” readings of might/could have were previously analyzed using metaphysical modal bases. This paper presents examples and scenarios where the assumptions of such a branching-time semantics are not met, because there are facts at the base world that exclude the complement of the modal becoming true. Additional arguments show that counterfactual readings are context-dependent. These data motivate a semantics using a circumstantial (or factual) modal base, which refers to context-dependent facts about a world and time. The analysis is formulated in a version of the premise semantics for modality.
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    Association with Focus
    Rooth, Mats (GLSA, Dept. of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1985)