November 14, 2016 at 530p: Chris Westbury, Ph.D.

Chris Westbury is our next speaker.  Chris and I go way back and have published a number of papers together. 

On Quining Semantics: Why we must, and how we might

In his 1988 paper, 'Quining Qualia', the philosopher Dan Dennett coined the term ‘to quine’ (after his mentor Willard Quine) to mean ‘to resolutely deny the existence or importance of something real or significant’. The idea that quining semantics might be either desirable or possible will sound strange to many, but has historical roots going back to Wittgenstein’s (1953) ‘Philosophical Investigations’, which demonstrated how slippery the idea of word meaning is. In this talk I will briefly lay out the argument that lexical semantics cannot be one single thing, and focus on two recent empirical studies looking at two disparate aspects of semantic-like processing: a large-scale study on sound symbolism, and a principal components analysis of Google’s skip-gram matrix that highlights the affective aspect of semantic experience.