Our research aims at a better understanding of natural language, especially its structure and use. In the research group, we have both primarily theory oriented and more empirical projects. Some of them elucidate fairly specific questions such as the following:
- Why is a sentence like (1) typically understood as ambiguous? On one reading those participants were tired that passed the exam; on another those participants were tired that did not pass the exam, or even: all participants were tired.
- Not all participants have passed the exam. They were very tired.
- What about a statement like (2). If this statement is true, is it still possible that Bill does not know that Mike attended the course?
- Bill does not know who attended the course.
- Why is it possible to alternate fairly freely between a 3rd person feminine (sie) and a 3rd person masculine (er) pronoun in the next little German discourse.
- Dieser Baum ist eine Tanne. Er/Sie ist mindestens 20 Jahre alt.
- What is the meaning difference between various indefinite pronouns in German such as irgendwer and irgendjemand.
Other projects are concerned with much more general questions such as:
- Is it possible to give a predictive mathematic model of suspense and narrative closure in narrative texts?
- Can we explain the linguistic strategies skilled speakers such as (some) politicians use to evade answering questions while maintaining some level of cooperativity in discourse?
- How come that we can understand each other reasonably well in many situations in which only a small fraction of the necessary information is coded in the meaning of the linguistic utterances we use?
Under the following LINK, you can find more information on our projects.