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Eleni Gregoromichelaki "Actionism in syntax and semantics"

Research profile seminar

Eleni Gregoromichelaki "Actionism in syntax and semantics"

I present a view of "syntax" which is compatible with a perspective on perception called actionism [Noe, 2012]. Seen from an actionist perspective, strictly linguistic syntactic mechanisms are part of the sensorimotor skills that allow humans access to the world. Like all such skills, syntactic processing gives access to reliable action-perception regularities, which, in the case of language, function to induce conceptual understanding and manipulation of the physical and social environment. Natural language elements like words and syntactic structures can be modelled as affordances, properties of social settings [Heft, 1989] relative to (groups of) human agents who can explore or exploit them to gain access to these settings. The knowledge and control required to deploy such affordances is distributed across agents and the physical resources of their environment as exhibited in the phenomena of split utterances [Gregoromichelaki and
et al., submitted] and the seamless incorporation of language and (joint) action within single utterances or pieces of discourse [Gregoromichelaki, 2017]. I will present a syntactic model (DS, Kempson et al. [2001]) that provides a way of capturing the continuities in the syntactic processing of (joint) linguistic and physical actions by relying on the goal-directed, predictive nature of cognition.
Since the phenomena also show that there is continuity between low-level "syntactic" and conceptual mechanisms, I will address ways to unify DS with TTR (Cooper [2012], in prep) under a single formalism. Like syntactic DS types, TTR types can be considered as affordances,
namely, real features of the environment that are, nevertheless, defined relative to agents' abilities to take advantage of or avoid them. The abilities of agents to pick up and create such affordances, in this view, should not be modelled as the construction of neural representations
of states of affairs or entities, or even affordances. Instead, as in DS, they can be modelled as action-perception loops that allow agents to incrementally engage with the sets of predictions induced by the types. I will compare this view with that of [Cooper and Larsson, 2018] and I will argue that any attempt to integrate DS with TTR needs to be compatible with a non-inferential, non-representational, externalist view of meaning and semantics.

Lecturer: Dr Eleni Gregoromichelaki

Date: 1/16/2019

Time: 1:15 PM - 3:00 PM

Categories: Linguistics

Location: Dicksonsgatan 4, Seminar room

Contact person: stergios chatzikyriakidis


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