We are happy to announce talks by Sebastian Walter (Frankfurt/Wuppertal) and Noémi Ecsedi (Frankfurt) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talks 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: February 1, 2024

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct


Sebastian Walter

Title: Indirect discourse as mixed quotation: Evidence from self pointing

Indirect discourse, e.g., Peter said he was thirsty, is standardly viewed as a statement of what someone said or thought without quoting them directly. However, there are instances of indexicals which can receive a shifted interpretation in indirect discourse (Plank, 1986; Anderson, 2019), meaning that they are interpreted from the matrix subject’s perspective. This suggests that at least some elements in indirect discourse can be quoted.

In a rating study, self pointing gestures aligned with a focalized third-person pronoun in indirect discourse were judged acceptable, cf. (1).

(1) Peter complained that [HE] again had to pay the bill for the whole group. + self pointing

Assuming that quotation involves a demonstration that can target elements beside words (Clark & Gerrig, 1990), Ebert & Hinterwimmer (2022) propose that self pointing aligned with a third-person pronoun is a character viewpoint gesture quoted from the protagonist (cf. Maier, 2015, for a mixed quotational approach to free indirect discourse).

Based on the results of the study presented in this talk, it is proposed that mixed quotation is available in indirect discourse as well. However, it is more constrained than in other instances of reported speech, meaning that only some elements of the original utterance can be quoted.


Noémi Ecsedi

Title: Metaphor and Expressive Meaning

Such expressions that convey personal feelings, sensations, evaluations, and one’s own stance are referred to as “expressives”, cf. (1) (Löbner, 2003). Expressives, whether they possess positive or negative connotations, play an integral role in communication.

(1) Oops / damn / darling.

Metaphors, like expressives, are part of natural language too, cf. (2). They are produced and understood by speakers. The insights from intensive metaphor research, characteristic of the second half of the twentieth century, led to the understanding that metaphors are no longer merely seen as rhetorical devices in literary texts, as was the case in ancient times. Instead, they are viewed as a linguistic phenomenon ubiquitous in everyday language (Reimer & Camp, 2008).

(2) Juliet is the sun.

The topic of this talk is metaphor and expressive meaning. It aims to investigate whether the characteristics used to identify expressive meaning can demonstrate the expressive function of metaphorical expressions, cf. (3).

(3) Sam is a pig.