Projects in Previous Years

2nd Semester 2017/18: Experimental methods for semantics and pragmatics


Arnold Kochari

If you are interested in this project, please contact the instructor by email.


It is becoming increasingly common to conduct experiments for the purpose of answering questions relevant to semantics and pragmatics research. This project is meant as an introduction to experimental psychology and different experimental methods for those who are interested in doing such work (in future).

After taking this project you will be better equipped to critically evaluate experimental evidence in semantics and pragmatics and be able to think about your own experimental designs.


In the first week, I plan to give a brief overview of various research methods and making inferences based on them: 

  • eliciting a certain response from subjects (e.g., surveys, forced choice);
  •  measuring the reaction times;
  • investigating reading/looking patterns using an eye-tracker;
  • finally, we can talk about the potential of neuroimaging methods such as EEG and fMRI.

All of these will be discussed in the context of and using examples from linguistics.

In the remaining 3 weeks you will work on your own experimental projects. Depending on the number of students (and hence the amount of supervision I can offer each of you), you will either write a detailed experimental proposal (meaning that you outline the theory, experimental design, measures, interpretation; everything except for data collection itself) or collect data in your own small-scale web-based experiment.

I am open to your suggestions for the topic of your experimental project. I also have some ideas that I can tell you about if you wish. We will finalize the plan and schedule together during the first session.


 Interest in conducting experimental work



  •  Attend the sessions of the first week, take part in the discussions
  • Submit an experiment proposal (template will be provided)

These are examples of papers that we will be using as examples/will be discussing during our sessions in the first week. You are also welcome to suggest experimental work on your topic of interest.

  • Alexandropoulou, S., Dotlačil, J., & Nouwen, R. (2016). At least ignorance inferences come at a processing cost: Support from eye movements. In Proceedings of SALT 26: 795-813.
  • Alexandropoulou, S., Dotlačil, J., & Nouwen, R. (2017). Pragmatic effects of more than and at least in incremental interpretation. In Proceedings of SALT 27.
  • Aparicio, H., Xiang, M., & Kennedy, C. (2015). Processing gradable adjectives in context: A visual world study. In Proceedings of SALT 25.
  • Bott, O., & Schlotterbeck, F. (2015). The processing domain of scope interaction. Journal of Semantics, 32(1), 39-92.
  • Franke, M., Schlotterbeck, F., & Augurzky, P. (2017). Embedded scalars, preferred readings and prosody: An experimental revisit. Journal of Semantics, 34(1), 153-199.
  • Jeong, S., & Potts, C. (2016). Intonational sentence-type conventions for perlocutionary effects: An experimental investigation. In Proceedings of SALT 26: 1-22
  • Kaiser, E., Lee, J. H (2017) Experience matters: A psycholinguistic investigation of predicates of personal taste. In Proceedings of SALT 27: 323-339.
  • Scontras, G., & Goodman, N. D. (2017). Resolving uncertainty in plural predication. Cognition, 168, 294-311.
  • Sedivy, J. C. (2003). Pragmatic versus form-based accounts of referential contrast: Evidence for effects of informativity expectations. Journal of psycholinguistic research, 32(1), 3-23.
  • Spychalska, M., Kontinen, J., & Werning, M. (2016). Investigating scalar implicatures in a truth-value judgement task: evidence from event-related brain potentials. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31(6), 817-840.
  • Yildirim, I., Degen, J., Tanenhaus, M. K., & Jaeger, T. F. (2016). Talker-specificity and adaptation in quantifier interpretation. Journal of memory and language87, 128-143.