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Maryland at Sinn und Bedeutung

August 26, 2020 Linguistics

Postdoctoral fellow Dan Goodhue gestures with his hands, almost interdigitating his fingers, will standing up and speaking in a sunlit room

Work by Yu'an on modal wh-indefinites, and Dan, Jad, Valentine and Jeff on intonation and illocutionary force in acquisition

September 3-9, University College London and Queen Mary University of London host an online meeting of the 25th Sinn und Bedeutung ('Sense and Reference'). The conference will feature two posters involving Maryland linguists: "Modal wh-indefinites in Mandarin", by Mingming Liu of Beijing's Tsing Hua University with our own Yu'an Yang; and  "The effect of intonation on the illocutionary force of declaratives in child comprehension", by Daniel Goodhue, Jad Wehbe, Valentine Hacquard and Jeffrey Lidz.

Yu'an's paper concerns the distribution and analysis of wh-phrases used to refer to something about whose identity the speaker is either ignorant or indifferent, as one does with English "some book or other." Dan's paper asks whether pre-schoolers can use prosody to understand the speaker's intended speech act, even when the nature of that act is not signaled by the mood of the uttered clause. The answer he gives is Yes, based on experiments run with his co-authors.