We are very happy to announce the next talk in the Semantic Colloquium, which will take place on Thursday, May 23, 4 – 6 pm in IG 4.301.

Klaus von Heusinger (University of Cologne) will present „The dual-process activation model – the comprehension of definite and indefinite noun phrases“.


We argue that the comprehension of definite and indefinite noun phrases is best described within a dual-process model of referent activation. In a first process, a comprehender accesses the concept associated with the noun phrase’s descriptive material while, in a second process, the function of the noun phrase’s article guides the comprehender to select the denoted referent(s). Importantly, definite articles signal that there is a unique element that falls under the previously activated concept. In contrast, indefinite articles signal that there are (potentially) multiple referents for the previously activated concept. The dual-process model proposed here was tested in a visual-world eye-tracking experiment and an neurolinguistics experiment that tested the event related brain potentials. We found that the different functions associated with definite and indefinite noun phrases are reflected at the level of a referent’s accessibility to a comprehender.


You are cordially invited!