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Future Blog Post

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Blog Post number 1

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Immediate and General Common Ground

Published in Modeling and Using Context: 10th International Interdisciplinary Conference, CONTEXT2017. P. Brezillon, R. Turner, C. Penco (eds), Springer, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 2017

The traditional literalist account of meaning has been challenged by several theories that stress the importance of context and of contextual information in communication, especially for mechanisms of meaning determination and reference fixing. However, the role of lexical meaning in such contextualist accounts often remains only vaguely defined. In this paper, we defend an account of communication that keeps the advantages of contextualist theories, while a new element is introduced that we claim could help solving some of the remaining issues. By differentiating Immediate and General Common Ground in communication, we draw a distinction between mechanisms related to the situation at hand and those concerned with world and language knowledge. We further argue that such a distinction can help understanding cases of loose use and metaphors of which we provide some examples. Finally, we claim that this distinction has grammatical reality, as it is shown by the examples from Lakhota (North America), Umpithamu (Australia), Kuuk Thaayorre (Australia) and Mongsen Ao (India) discussed in the paper.

Recommended citation: Berio, L., Latrouite, A., Van Valin, R.J., Vosgerau, G. (2017). " Immediate and General Common Ground 3." Modeling and Using Context: 10th International Interdisciplinary Conference, CONTEXT2017. P. Brezillon, R. Turner, C. Penco (eds), Springer, Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence . http://academicpages.github.io/files/paper3.pdf

Language relativity and flexibility of mental representations: color terms in a frame based analysis

Published in Proceedings of COgnitiveStructures Conference, Duesseldorf 2017, 2019

This paper connects the issue of the influence of language on conceptual representations, known as Linguistic Relativity, with some issues pertaining to concepts’ structure and retrieval. In what follows, I present a model of the relation between linguistic information and perceptual information in concepts using frames as a format of mental representation, and argue that this model not only accommodates the empirical evidence presented by the linguistic relativity debate, but also sheds some light on answered questions regarding conceptual representations’ structure. A fundamental assumption is that mental representations can be conceptualised as complex functional structures whose components can be dynamically and flexibly recruited depending on the tasks at hand; the components include linguistic and non-linguistic elements. This kind of model allows for the representation of the interaction between linguistic and perceptual information and accounts for the variable influence that color labels have on non-linguistic tasks. The paper provides some example of strategy shifting and flexible recruitment of linguistic information available in the literature and explains them using frames.

Recommended citation: Berio, Leda. (2019). "Language relativity and flexibility of mental representations: color terms in a frame-based analysis ." Proceedings of COST2016 Conference, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Forthcoming.. 1(2). http://academicpages.github.io/files/paper2.pdf

Readings of Plurals and Common Ground

Published in In E. Pacuit and J. Sikos (eds). Springer Lecture Notes in Cognitive Science, 2019

This paper asks two questions: (i) In an ambiguous context, what is the interpretation of a sentence like The men wrote musicals? (ii) How can we succinctly characterize the differences between readings that an a sentence has in an ambiguous context, versus readings made available in a specialized context, and those available only because of shared knowledge. While these questions have received much attention, the number of readings such a sentence has in an ambiguous context remains controversial, as is the availability of additional readings, and the mean by which speakers become attuned to readings in a given context. To answer the first question we conducted an online study where participants evaluated the truth value of sentences designed to test the meaning of those like The men wrote musicals. Results suggest that such sentences get a double cover interpretation (i.e. an interpretation in terms of a relation between sets of individuals, rather than a relation strictly between atomic individuals) in an ambiguous context. We couch these results and the discussion on the availability of other readings in terms of a bipartite Common Ground, where available readings are in the Immediate Common Ground, and other readings can be made available via knowledge in the General Common Ground, thereby answering the second question.

Recommended citation: Berio, L. and Erbach, K. (2019). " Readings of Plurals and Common Ground." In E. Pacuit and J. Sikos (eds). Springer Lecture Notes in Cognitive Science . 1(2). http://academicpages.github.io/files/paper2.pdf

Enriching the Cognitive Account of Common Ground: Kinds of Shared Information and Cognitive Processes

Published in Grazer Philosophische Studien, 2020

Classical notions of Common Ground have been criticized for being cognitively demanding given their appeal to complex meta-representations. The authors here propose a distinction between Immediate Common Ground, containing information specific to the communicative situation, and General Common Ground, containing information that is not situation-specific. This distinction builds on previous work by Horton and Gerrig [2016], extending the idea that common cognitive processes are part of the establishment and use of common ground. This is in line with the idea that multiple cognitive resources are involved in dialogue and avoids appealing to special- purpose representations for Common Ground purposes.

Recommended citation: Berio, L. and Vosgerau, G. (2020). " Enriching the Cognitive Account of Common Ground: Kinds of Shared Information and Cognitive Processes " Grazer Philosophische Studien 10.1163/18756735-000105

Culturally embedded schemata in belief reasoning

Published in Synthese: The Cultural Evolution of Human Social Cognition, 2020

I argue that both language acquisition and cultural and social factors contribute to the formation of schemata that facilitate false belief reasoning. While the proposal for an active role of language acquisition in this sense has been partially advanced by several voices in the mentalizing debate, I argue that other accounts addressing this issue present some shortcomings. Specifically, I analyze the existing proposals distinguishing between “structure-oriented” views (with the most relevant representative in de Villiers and de Villiers 2009; de Villiers 2007; de Villiers 2005), that stress the role of language as a set of rules providing syntactic input and providing a representational format, and “cultural/social-oriented views”, that stress the role of social interaction (among others Nelson 2005; Hutto 2008b). Starting from the analysis of these views, I defend my own account of the role of language acquisition in aiding false belief reasoning. I argue that language acquisition plays a pivotal role in the formation of schemata used by pre-schoolers to pass the false belief task. I propose a specific learning mechanism for exploiting linguistic information that taps into specific cognitive abilities, thus making a very concrete suggestion about the role of linguistic input in specific cultural contexts for the development of false belief skills.

Recommended citation: Berio, L. (2020). " Culturally embedded schemata for false belief reasoning " In Synthese, Special Issue: The Cultural Evolution of Human Social Cognition https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-020-02655-7

Talk 1 on Relevant Topic in Your Field

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Conference Proceeding talk 3 on Relevant Topic in Your Field

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