Talk by Andy Lücking (Frankfurt a.M.) on Demonstration Acts in Grammar

in the Oberseminar English Linguistics, Monday, June 13, 4-6pm, room IG 3.201.

Although demonstration acts like pointing gestures or head nods are frequently mentioned in the context of reference, they still live in the shadows of semantic theories. In this talk, a spatial semantics for demonstration acts is developed, which is based on experimental studies and theoretical reasoning. According to this model, demonstration acts impose spatial constraints on the resource situation of referential expressions instead of directly selecting an object (the Kaplanian standard view). But where to put demonstration acts within linguistic theories? Arguments from the binding behavior of demonstrative noun phrases (DemNPs) are put forth that support the claim that demonstration acts should be part of grammar. Following this line of thought, multimodal DemNPs, i.e. demonstrative nouns phrases that are accompanied by a demonstration act, are introduced as constituents of the object language. The binding behavior of DemNPs is generalized into a “Demonstrative Binding” rule, which is formalized in a situation semantics framework, interacting with the spatial semantic of demonstration acts.