We are interested in answering these questions:
- What basic ontological building blocks do we use to talk about the world?
entities, events, states, traits, tropes, times, situations, occasions, properties, possible worlds, kinds, degrees, forces, dispositions, intentions, abilities, attitudes, propositions....
- How do these building blocks combine?
type-driven rules of composition, semantically interpretable syntactic features, conceptual operations, controlled vs. automatic processes...
- How do grammatical and cognitive phenomena motivate the answers to the first two questions?
causation, predication, categorization, actionality, temporality, genericity, modality, evidentiality, the mass/count distinction, plurality/pluractionality, possession, conditionals and counterfactuality
We also assume the following principles:
There is a formal semantic ontology.
- Formalism is crucial to constrain the theory space
- An anti-Humean approach: the ontology may include relationships, types, functions or entities that were not initially captured with traditional logical/formal tools
Its relationship to grammar matters.
- Linguistic structure and morphology provide clues to the structure of meaning, which in turn provides information about the ontology
- Simple morphosyntax cross-linguistically implies that any semantic complexity is in cognition, not language
Its relationship to cognition matters.
- Mappings between language and cognition (e.g., the mapping by which linguistic predicates map to conceptual properties) are not necessarily the identity mapping
- We can ask whether any particular bit of complexity is in language or in cognition
- Theoretical linguists should be able to provide sources of hypotheses for psycholinguists and cognitive psychologists to pursue, and the results should in turn inform linguistic theory
Communication between diverse frameworks is worthwhile.
- Working across differing ontological commitments—not always easy but valuable
- Making efforts to facilitate intra- and interdisciplinary communication in the face of terminological, sociological, and pedagogical barriers
- Examining less-familiar languages, absolutely necessary for making claims about language vs. cognition