Office: Margaret Jacks Hall, room 114
Research areas: Experimental and computational semantics and pragmatics; Psycholinguistics; Cognitive science.
Humans routinely arrive at interpretations of utterances that are much richer than what is literally said. We do this by drawing pragmatic inferences. For instance, the sentence “Jane had ice cream for dessert” is often understood to mean that she had only ice cream for dessert, and the sentence “Alex ate some of the cookies”, that he did not eat all of them. These are just some of many pragmatic inferences that are computed on a millisecond timescale during real-time language processing. How is this feat accomplished?
Work in my lab addresses this question in adult language comprehension and production. We begin with the assumption that language is fundamentally embedded in a social context, and that listeners have both fine-grained expectations about speakers’ likely production choices as well as rich knowledge of the world, which they bring to bear on the interpretation process. We use a variety of methods—including computational cognitive modeling, psycholinguistic experiments, and corpus analyses—to develop pragmatic theories that explicitly link production and comprehension and test those theories on naturally occurring and empirically elicited linguistic data. See my lab website for details.