Adina Williams, Dan Lassiter, and Lucas Champollion will be among the organizers of courses and workshops at ESSLLI 2021, held virtually July 26 - August 13. Join us online!
Information Theory in Linguistics: Methods and Applications
Adina Williams (Facebook AI Research NYC; NYU' 18)
Ryan Cotterell (ETH Zürich, Cambridge)
Abstract: Since Shannon originally proposed his mathematical theory of communication in the middle of the 20th century, information theory has been an important way of viewing and investigating problems at the interfaces between linguistics, cognitive science, and computation, respectively. With the upsurgence in applying machine learning approaches to linguistics questions, information-theoretic methods are becoming an ever more important tool in the linguist’s toolbox. The course emphasizes interdisciplinary connections between the fields of linguistics and natural language processing. We plan to do this by first establishing a firm mathematical basis, and showing it can be fruitfully applied to several linguistic applications, ranging from semantics, typology, morphology, and phonotactics, to the interface between cognitive science and linguistics.
Approaches to implicature: Rational choice and/or exhaustification
Judith Degen (Stanford)
Benjamin Spector (Institut Jean Nicod)
Daniel Lassiter (Stanford; NYU '11)
Abstract: We propose to organize a workshop which will bring together researchers interested in two prominent threads of work on implicature in natural language. The first is the rational choice approach associated with game-theoretic pragmatics and its close relative, the Bayesian Rational Speech Acts model. The second is the exhaustification-based approach. While these approaches have generally been thought to be in theoretical tension, there are also underexplored ways to combine them, with the potential to benefit both approaches. We will encourage researchers to compare the theoretical resources and empirical predictions of the two approaches separately and also when combined, with the hope of producing a more unified theory of implicature and a more general understanding of the data that such a theory must account for.
Advanced mereology for linguists
Lucas Champollion (New York University)
Lecture notes: https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/006071
This course develops a unified theory of cross-categorial similarities involving the count-mass, singular-plural, telic-atelic, and collective-distributive opposition, based on the notion of stratified reference. Day 1 recaps basic topics like mereology, the singular-plural distinction, the count-mass distinction, higher-order properties, extensive and intensive measure functions, the telic-atelic opposition, and aspectual composition. Day 2 introduces stratified reference and is devoted to issues in the domain of measurement, such as the difference between 'thirty liters of water' and '*thirty degrees Celsius of water'. Day 3 is about differences within the class of collective predicates, as exemplified by the contrast between 'all the students gathered' and '*all the students were numerous'. Day 4 reformulates distributivity operators, extends them to the temporal domain, and explains why indefinites in the syntactic scope of 'for'-adverbials tend not to covary. Day 5 is devoted to the crosslinguistic semantic differences between distance-distributive items such as English 'each' and German 'jeweils' and to the interaction of distributive determiners like 'every' with cumulative readings. The course contents are drawn from Champollion 2017 (Parts of a Whole, Oxford UP). Basic familiarity with formal semantics and mereology, as presented in my previous introductory ESSLLI and LSA course “Linguistic applications of mereology", or in the review article Champollion & Krifka 2016 (Mereology) (preprint here) will be helpful.