We are happy to announce a talk by Vinicius Macuch Silva (Birmingham) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.
If you wish to participate virtually via Zoom, please contact Lennart Fritzsche for the link.

Date: December 21, 2023

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

Title: Talking numbers: Exploring the communication of quantity in English

In this talk, I will discuss the communication of quantity. I will start by contextualizing quantity and its expression through language. Following this, I will present three empirical studies focused on quantity communication in English: two experimental psycholinguistic studies and one corpus-based one. The first study deals with multimodal quantifier interpretation (i.e., how the interpretation of several is modulated by gesture), the second one with the production of quantifiers in argumentative scenarios (i.e., how people use quantifiers such as some and most to make quantities appear large or small), and the third one with the usage of change-of-state verbs (e.g. expressions such as “rising prices” and “shrinking shares” that express change in quantity). I discuss the findings of these studies against the backdrop of what it means to talk about quantity – that is, what dimensions one may wish to express in the first place – and what their implications for linguistic and psycholinguistic theories of quantity communication are. Ultimately, I conclude by arguing that our theories need to account for the intricacy of quantity expression as its found in actual language use, and that empirical work may shed light on what the limits of such natural variability might be and what factors constrain it.