Pragmatics Reading Group

The pragmatics reading group (PRG) brings together postgraduate students and researchers interested in pragmatics and semantics both from within UCL and from the wider academic community. It offers members a chance to present their own research to the group or to lead a discussion on a subject or article of general interest.

If you would like to join the group or have any queries, contact Diana Mazzarella:


Please note: Links to published papers may only work from UCL computers or with a UCL username and password.

Members from institutions external to UCL should follow the DOI link and log in with their Athens account.

Unless otherwise announced, meetings will be from 2.00pm on Wednesdays, in Chandler House room 116.

Upcoming Meetings

There are currently no upcoming meetings.

Previous Meetings

21st May 2014 (2.00pm, room 116) Linden Ball (University of Central Lancashire) - Pragmatic Factors in Hypothesis Testing: The Case of Wason's 2-4-6 Task

2nd April 2014 (3.30pm, room 116) Ye Tian (UCL) - Negation and the accomodation of Question Under Discussion

19th March 2014 (2.00pm, room 116) Catherine Wearing (Wellesley College) - Metaphor and Seeing-As

12th March 2014 (2.00pm, room 116) Bipin Indurkhya (International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad) - Perceptual similarity in visual metaphors and creativity

5th March 2014 (2.00pm, room 116) Catalina Urquiza Arribas (UCL) - Building a radically contextualist account of word meaning

26th February 2014 (2.00pm, room 116) Diana Mazzarella (UCL) will lead a discussion on the following paper:

Sperber, D. 2005. Modularity and relevance: How can a massively modular mind be flexible and context-sensitive? In P. Carruthers & S. Laurence (Eds.),The innate mind: Structure and content (pp. 53-68) New York: Oxford University Press.

(Recommended backgroud reading:

Sperber, D. 1994. The modularity of thought and the epidemiology of representations. In L. A. Hirshfeld & S. A. Gelman (Eds.), Mapping the mind: Domain specificity in cognition and culture (pp. 39-67) New York: Cambridge Universty Press.

Specifically, pp. 39-53)

12th February 2014 (2.00pm, room 116) Anouch Bourmayan (IJN, UCL) - Implicit indefinite objects: a conceptual-pragmatic approach

29th January 2014 (2.00pm, room G15) Stavros Assimakopoulous (University of Malta) - Encoded lexical meaning in Relevance Theory

11th December 2013 (2.00pm, room G15) Steven Frisson (University of Birmingham) - Reading a scary book that's ripped: On-line processing of metonymies

27th November 2013 (2.15pm-5.00pm, room G15) Rachel Giora (Tel Aviv University) - Why sarcastic opposites don't come easy, Carita Paradis (Lund University) - Are all opposites equal - or are some more equal than others? and Deirdre Wilson (UCL, CSMN) - Irony, hyperbole, jokes and banter

20th November 2013 (2.00pm, room G15) Paula Rubio-Fernández (UCL) and Bart Geurts (University of Nijmegen) - Is an apple like a fruit? A study on comparison and categorization statements

30th October 2013 (2.00pm, room 116) Felicity Deamer (UCL) - Young children's understanding of figurative language

16th October 2013 (2.00pm, room 116) Isabelle Needham-Didsbury (UCL) will lead a discussion on the following papers:

Wilson, D. 2010. Parallels and differences in the treatment of metaphor in relevance theory and cognitive linguistics. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 22: 41-55. Available here:

Gibbs, R. and Tendahl, M. 2011. Coupling of metaphoric cognition and communication: A reply to Deirdre Wilson. Intercultural Pragmatics 8-4: 601-609.

2nd October 2013 (3.00pm, room 116) Mark Jary (University of Roehampton) - Two types of implicature: Material and Behavioural

8th May 2013 (3.30 pm, room 116) Thomas Scott-Phillips (Durham University) - Communication, pragmatics, and the origins of language.

20th March 2013 (2.00 pm, room 116) Alison Hall will lead a discussion on the following paper:

Koralus, P. (2013), Descriptions, ambiguity, and representationalist theories of interpretation, Philosophical Studies 162 (2): 275–290.

The discussion will focus on the first 4 sections.

13th March 2013 (2.00 pm, room 116) Xiaobei Zheng (UCL) - Perspective taking in online language processing.

20th February 2013 (2.00 pm, room 116) Marie Guillot (Institut Jean Nicod) - The limits of selflessness. Semantic relativism and the epistemology of de se thoughts.

23rd January 2013 (2.00pm, room G15) Ekaterini Klepousniotou (University of Leeds) - Right hemisphere contributions to figurative language processing. 

9th and 16th January 2013 (2.00pm, room G15) Diana Mazzarella will lead a discussion on the following paper:

Sperber, D., Clément, F., Heintz, C., Mascaro, O., Mercier, U., Origgi, G. & Wilson, D. 2010. Epistemic vigilance. Mind & Language 24(4): 359-393.

The discussion will be organised as follows:

9th January: sections 1-4.

16th January: sections 5-9.

5th December 2012 (2.00pm, room B01) Giulio Dulcinati will lead a discussion on the following paper:

Scott-Phillips, T. C. 2010. The Evolution of Relevance. Cognitive Science 34: 583-601.

21st November 2012 (2.00pm, room G15) Ye Tian (UCL) - What can eye-tracking data tell us about negation process?

24th October 2012 (2.00pm, room 116) Frauke Berger (University of Potsdam) - Children's interpretation of the additive particle also.

10th October 2012 (2.00pm, room 116) Mark Jary (University of Roehampton) and Mikhail Kissine (Université Libre de Bruxelles) - Imperative sentences: semantics and pragmatics.

3rd October 2012 (2.00pm, room 116) Ruth Filik (University of Nottingham) - How do we understand irony? A multi-method approach.

6th June 2012 (3.30pm, room 116). Felicity Deamer. 'Suppression and the relationship between the topic and vehicle concepts in hyperbole and metaphor comprehension.'

16th May 2012 (3.30pm, room 116). Rachel Giora. 'Negation generates nonliteral interpretations by default: The case of metaphor and sarcasm.'

4th May 2012 (10.30am-6pm, Room G10, Chandler House). Pragmatics and Autism Workshop. [download programme]

22nd February 2012 (3.30pm, room 116). Filippo Domaneschi will be presenting results from an experiment regarding the role of propositional attitudes towards presuppositions.

8th February 2012 (3.30pm, room 116). Alison Hall will lead a discussion on the following paper:

Marco Mazzone and Elisabetta Lalumera 2010. Concepts: Stored or Created?

25th January 2012 (3.30pm, room 116). Annika Deichsel. The Discourse Structuring Potential of Indefinite Demonstrative /dieser /in German

7th December 2011 (3.30pm, room 116). Nicola Spotorno.

23rd November 2011 (3.30pm, room 116). Matthew Gotham.

12th October 2011 (3.30pm, room 116). Alison Hall will lead a discussion on ad hoc concepts. Background reading can be found here:

Specifically pages 23-25 on the nature of ad hoc concepts.

5th October 2011 (3.30pm, room 116). Felicity Deamer. Discussion of two metaphor processing and production papers:
- Pierce, R. and Chiappe, D.2008. The roles of aptness, conventionality and working memory in the production of Metaphors and Similes. Metaphor and Symbol, 24:1, 1-19.

- Pierce R, Maclaren R, and Chiappe DL. 2010. The role of working memory in the metaphor interference effect. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Vol. 17, No.3, 400-404.

25th May 2011 (3pm, room 116). Anouch Bourmayan. 'From incorporation to pragmatic enrichment: shifting the perspective on implicit indefinite objects'.

4th May 2011 (2pm, room 116). Deirdre Wilson. 'Understanding and believing'.

16th March 2011 (3.30pm, room 116). Richard Breheny. 'On the cognitive architecture for utterance interpretation'. 

2nd March 2011 (3pm, room 116). Larraitz Zubeldia. The semantic and pragmatic properties of the Basque particle "omen".

23rd February 2011 (3pm, room 116).  Thiago Galery. Disccussion of a chapter of a recent book by Susan Carey called 'The origin of concepts'.

8th December 2010 (3pm, room 116).  Judith Degen. Linguistic and extra-linguistic factors in scalar implicature processing.

27th October 2010. (3pm, room 116).  Beata Zacharska.  Definite Descriptions: Semantic or Pragmatic Polysemy?

20th October 2010 (3pm, room 116).  Nathan Klinedinst.  Connectives.

13th October 2010. (3pm, room 116)  Richard Breheny will lead a discussion on Recognising Communicative Intentions in Infancy (Csibra 2010)

10th June 2010. 4pm. Room G15. Linguistics-philosophy seminar: Sarah-Jane Leslie (Princeton). 'Generics, quantifiers, and cognition'. Abstract.

2nd June 2010. (2pm, room 116) Felicity Deamer will discuss an experiment comparing interpretation of novel hyperboles vs novel metaphors. Ye Tian will discuss an experiment on embedded implicatures.

26th May 2010. 2.30pm, room 116. Alison Hall. 'Free' enrichment and the nature of pragmatic constraints.

24 March 2010. (2pm room 116) Deirdre Wilson. The conceptual-procedural distinction: past, present, and future. Abstract.
Background reading: Wilson and Sperber, Linguistic form and relevance (Lingua 1993):

17 March 2010. Georg Kjoll (CSMN, Oslo) 'What is lost and what is gained in giving up on encoded meaning?' Abstract.

10 March 2010, 1pm, room G15. Paula Rubio-Fernandez. Eye movements in the Sally-Anne task: Adults reveal an egocentric bias in false-belief reasoning.

24 Feb 2010, 3pm, room G15. Joint linguistics/philosophy seminar: Robbie Williams (Leeds), "Tenable conditionals".

10 Feb 2010, room G15. Robyn Carston, "Metaphor processing and the role of ad hoc concepts". Background reading: Sperber and Wilson, A deflationary account of metaphor (UCLWPL 2006).

3 Feb 2010, 3pm, room G15. Joint linguistics/philosophy seminar: John Hawthorne (Oxford), "Indicative conditionals".

27 Jan 2010. 4pm, room 101. Marta Abrusan (Oxford), Triggering verbal presuppositions. Abstract.

Optional background reading:
Abusch, D. (2002). Lexical alternatives as a source of pragmatic presuppositions. In Jackson, B., editor, Proceedings of SALT 12. CLC Publications, Cornell University.
Simons, M. (2001). On the conversational basis of some presuppositions. In Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistics Theory 11.
Wilson and Sperber, 1979. Ordered entailments: An alternative to presuppositional theories. In: C.K. Oh and D. Dinneen, Editors, Syntax and semantics Vol. 11, Academic Press, New York (1979), pp. 299–323. Presupposition

20 Jan 2010. Thiago Galery, The nature of singular mental states. Abstract. Background reading:

13 Jan 2010, 4pm. Discussion of Edwards, K. 2009. 'What concepts do.' Synthese 170: 289-310. (led by Alison Hall)

9 December 2009 1.30pm, room 116. Three-year-old children comprehend relevance implicatures. Cornelia Schulze (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig)

25 November 2009 4pm, room G15. Discussion of Speaks, J. 2008. 'Conversational implicature, thought, and communication'. Mind and Language 23(1): 107-122. (led by Tom Hodgson)

18 November 2009 2pm, room G15. Gunnar Bjornsson (Gothenburg) on contextualism about 'ought'.

4 November 2009 room 116, 2pm. More of a good thing is better (and more of a bad thing is worse). Bart Geurts, Radboud University Nijmegen. Abstract

28 October 2009 2pm. Chandler House Room G15. "Conditional Propositions". Daniel Rothschild, Oxford. (Joint philosophy/pragmatics seminar)  Reading:

21 October 2009. 3pm. Why word meanings might not be concepts. Timothy Pritchard (Kings College London). Abstract

7th October 2009 Infant pragmatic development, led by Richard Breheny
Background Reading:

3rd June 2009 Camp, E. & Hawthorne, J. (2008). Sarcastic 'like':A case study in the interfact of syntax and semantics;Alternative DOI Link

27th May 2009 Borg, Emma. (Forthcoming). On Three Theories of Implicature: Default Theory, Relevance Theory and Minimalism

25th March 2009 Leslie, S-J. (2009). “if ”, “unless”, and quantification.
Background Reading:

  • Stalnaker, Robert. 1981. A defense of conditional excluded middle. In Ifs: conditionals, belief, decision, chance and time, ed. R. Stalnaker W. Harper and G. Pearce, 87–104. Dordrecht:Reidel
  • Higginbotham, J. (2003). Conditionals and compositionality. In Hawthorne, J. and Zimmerman, D., editors, Language and Philosophical Linguistics, volume 17 of Philosophical Perspectives. Blackwell.
  • von Fintel, K. and Iatridou, S. (2002). If and when If -clauses can restrict quantifiers. ms., MIT.

18th March 2009 Barr, Dale J. (2008). Pragmatic expectation and linguistic evidence: Listeners anticipate but do not integrate common ground; Alternative DOI Link

11th March 2009 The Semantics of Non-Declaratives, led by Mark Jary.
Background reading:

25th February 2009 Neale, Stephen (2007).Heavy Hands, Magic and Scene-Reading Traps

4th February 2009 Travis, Charles (2006).Insensitive Semantics; Alternative DOI Link

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