Survey Seminar Series Spring 2009

The Survey of English Usage organises a number of seminars each year for staff and students from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and beyond. They are generously sponsored by the English Department.

The following research seminars will take place during the Spring term (in Foster Court Room 233 at 4pm).

Wed 10
  Dr Billy Clark (Middlesex)
Concepts and procedures: combining and composing meanings in utterance interpretation


Within relevance theory, a distinction has been made between conceptual and procedural meaning (including by Blakemore 1987, 2002; Sperber and Wilson 1986; Wilson and Sperber 1993). Expressions with conceptual meanings lead interpreters to access elements of conceptual representations. Expressions with procedural meanings guide the processes of constructing and manipulating conceptual representations. A number of questions about this distinction continue to be discussed. This talk explores two of them:

  1. How do the various kinds of meaning interact in the interpretation of specific utterances?
  2. Can procedural meanings ever be seen as compositional?

The data come mainly from English and include examples such as:

  1. You've got an idea
  2. Have you got an idea?

As well as the encoded meanings of lexical items and declarative or non-declarative syntax, it considers the effects of prosody and procedural expressions such as wow, so and then.

Wed 17 March 4pm
Dr Louise Sylvester (Westminster)

The Lexis of Medieval Cloth and Clothing: projects and research questions


In 2006 work began on the AHRC-funded project the Lexis of Cloth and Clothing in Britain c700-1450 at the universities of Manchester and Westminster. The aim is to collect the terms for garments, textiles, and processes of production and trade across all the languages in use in medieval Britain. Research on the multilingual situation of Britain in the late medieval period has started to suggest, however, that a paradigm in which languages such as Middle English and Anglo-Norman are seen as distinct may be anachronistic when applied to the British Isles in the medieval period, arguing for the need to find new ways of thinking about, and classifying, the vocabulary that we are collecting. The difficulties associated with distinguishing between borrowing and codeswitching come into play here. One theory suggests that it is possible to account for patterns of codeswitching by examining the levels of the lexicon in which lexical switches occur. This seems to present possibilities through the examination of linguistic varieties employed at the various levels in lexical corpora such as the data of the Lexis of Cloth and Clothing project and the Historical Thesaurus of English. This paper examines some of the preliminary results and implications of such an investigation.

All welcome! Drinks afterwards.

Past events

This page last modified 14 May, 2020 by Survey Web Administrator.