We are happy to announce a talk by Thomas Weskott (University of Göttingen) in the Semantics Colloquium where he will present joint work with Johanna Klages, Elsi Kaiser, and Anke Holler.

The talk will take place online. If you want to participate via zoom, please register via email to s.walter@em.uni-frankfurt.de.

Title: Testing Perspectivization Effects Online: The Case of Counteridenticals

Date: December 9

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct


Taking on another person’s perspective is a fundamental part of human cognition. Linguistic expressions play an important role in perspectivization: they can signal a shift in perspective, and their interpretation can be sensitive to different perspectives (see Bylinina et al., 2015). Although there is quite a lot of literature on the semantics and pragmatics of perspective shifting and perspective sensitivity, experimental investigations of the comprehension processes involved is relatively sparse, especially with respect to online measures.
In this talk, we present a visual word eye-tracking experiment in which participants were presented with linguistic stimuli that contained counteridenticals, i.e. counterfactuals of the form If I were you …, which, arguably, strongly induce a shift in perspective from the speaker’s to the addressee’s perspective. We then measured participants’ eye gaze behaviour while listening to perspective-sensitive spatial expressions like to the right of, behind, etc. Our results suggest that participants adopted a perspective rapidly when confronted with a counteridentical. We will discuss the broader implications of these results for the semantics and pragmatics of these expressions.