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Factivity: Semantics, Pragmatics, and Learnability

Date and Time: 
Thursday, May 28, 2015. 04:00 PM - 05:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Building 460, Room 126
Meeting Description: 

Some verbs with a sentential complement are normally factive: their use normally presupposes that the complement is true. But even these verbs, such as “know", are often used when the truth of the complement cannot be taken for granted. Certain other verbs, such as “announce”, seem to have both factive and nonfactive uses. And still others, such as “think", are cleary nonfactive, but can nevertheless be used to indirectly endorse the truth of the complement. The blur of this data raises two questions. First, what really differentiates factive from non-factive verbs? Valentine Hacquard addresses this question by re-examining the space of sentence-embedding verbs, and suggests that the consequential distinction is between verbs that report mental states and those that report discourse moves of conversational agents (joint work with Pranav Anand). Second, how can the factivity categories can be acquired by young children? Here Hacquard reports recent findings on children’s early understanding of think and know, and discusses possible ways children might figure out these categories (joint work with Rachel Dudley and Jeff Lidz).

About the speaker:

Valentine Hacquard is an associate professor of Linguistics at the University of Maryland.

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