New course: Semantic-Pragmatic Interfaces - The semantics and pragmatics of mirativity: The linguistic encoding of surprise

Dr. Yael Greenberg

In this seminar we will examine the semantics and pragmatics of ‘mirativity’ – the linguistic encoding of surprise / expectation violation. 

Mirativity  has been descriptively shown to be expressed across languages using a variety of linguistic strategies - lexical, morphological, syntactic and / or intonational. In the seminar we will read papers about specific mirative constructions and strategies, as well as papers dealing more generally with semantics-pragmatics interface and discourse update and based on them will try to (a) understand whether there is a universal semantic component of ‘surprise’ which is being used across all these strategies (b) identify variations in the type of surprise effect encoded by various mirative constructions (c) distinguish cases where the effect of  surprise is hardwired into the semantics of the relevant construction / strategy vs. those where the surprise effect is indirectly derived from independent pragmatic principles (e.g. principles of cooperation,  calculation of alternatives, sensitivity to standards of comparison etc.). All these will help us arrive at a better and more precise understanding of the way natural languages encode the notion of surprise.

Last Updated Date : 20/01/2022