We are happy to announce a talk by Jonathan Weinrich (Goethe Universität) next Thursday at the Semantics Colloquium. Please find an abstract below.

Title: Towards the Correct Pragmatic Treatment of Iconic Co-Speech Gestures
Room: IG 4.301
Date: November 21st
Time: 4pm – 6pm


There are two proposals of classifying iconic co-speech gestures within terms of previously established kinds of meaning. While Ebert & Ebert (2014) treat them as supplements in the spirit of Potts (2005), Schlenker (2018) analyzes them as variety of presuppositions. The main criterion for evaluation will be whether the contribution made by the gesture is discourse-new or discourse-old. After a quick explanation of the previous accounts, key examples of co-predicate gestures that pose a problem or an open question for both proposals are presented, establishing observations useful for a correct formalization. Instances of informative co-speech gestures pose a problem for the cosuppositional account, and uninformative ones for the supplemental one. Both accounts are hardly falsifiable: While the one of Ebert & Ebert (2014) focuses heavily on DPs, Schlenker (2018) makes extensive use of local accommodation in ways that have not been established to work. Other tests such as plugging behavior or if-clauses point towards a presuppositional analysis. One curious example may even provide an instance of a conversational implicature. It is likely that the pragmatic behavior can vary, but if so it is not clear, according to which factors. The overall picture is that many phenomena have to be examined by experimental means in order to find an adequate answer to the problem.