Research on gradability, scale structure and vagueness

As part of her current research, Dr. Galit Weidman Sassoon examines the grammatical, conceptual and cognitive basis of linguistic phenomena of gradability, scale structure and vagueness from a theoretical, empirical and experimental perspective. This involves addressing questions such as the following:

  • VaguenessHow many grains of sand make a heap?
  • The Sorites paradoxHow can the two intuitively true premises 1-2 lead to the obviously false conclusion in 3?
    1. two meters tall person is tall. (true)
    2. person one millimeter shorter than a tall person is tall. (true)
    3. A one meter tall person is tall. (false)
  • GradabilityHow is the meaning of ‘taller’ derived from the meaning of ‘tall’ and ‘-er’? And how is the meaning of ‘tallest’ derived?
  • Scale structuresHow do the scales of ‘height’ and ‘goodness’ differ? How do these differences manifest in the use, categorization, processing, and acquisition of words like ‘tall’ and ‘good’?

These days, Dr. Weidman Sassoon and her colleagues, Prof. Louise McNally (Barcelona) and Prof. Elena Castroviejo Miro (Madrid), are involved in the organization of a workshop called “Gradability, Scale Structure, and Vagueness: Experimental Perspectives”, which will take place in Madrid on May 28th and 29th, 2015. As its title states, the workshop will present studies that challenge or confirm current formal analyses of the semantics of gradability, scale structure and vagueness in view of experimentally collected data, or papers that aim for an explicit and detailed account of the use, mental representation, online processing, neural correlates or acquisition of expressions of gradability, scalarity, and vagueness.