Continuing our series of interviews with  OASIS 3 / SPE 12 invited speakers, today we're talking to Professor Andrea Moro, a professor of linguistics at Scuola Universitaria Superiore IUSS - Pavia.

OASIS: How old were you when you discovered linguistics? What got you excited about it? 

AM: I am an Italian native speaker and when I was six my best friend started to learn English. I wanted to do the same and asked my parents to find me a teacher.  For a while, I thought I was learning English but I wasn’t: my parents had sent me to German classes without telling me. When I realized I was not studying English, my strongest reaction was to deny it, because I thought that there could not be more than two ways to name things. Eventually, I started to learn English and I did my best to unlearn German but I realized, with great surprise, that knowledge cannot be cancelled voluntarily.

OASIS: Who are your professional heroes? 

AM: P.A.M. Dirac for having believed more on the heuristic power of formalism than common sense. Paul Cèzanne for understanding the value of decomposition of reality into primitive forms before all others.

OASIS: What would help linguists and philosophers talk to each other? 

AM: The distinction between Linguists and Philosophers is immaterial insofar as they share a common core glossary, i.e. one where basic notions such as “predication” or “reference” are not ambiguous or partial. This condition is not only welcome to avoid unnecessary disputes, it is rather necessary to reinforce the arguments elaborated about common domains of inquiry, such as, among others, human language.


OASIS: Ok, so how many languages do you speak? 

AM: I have found a meta-answer to qualify this question: asking linguists how many languages they speak is equivalent to asking physicians how many diseases they had.

OASIS: What's interesting about meaning? 

AM: That it is not what ultimately keeps words together in a sentence, otherwise I couldn’t claim that all triangles are circles.

OASIS: Your PhD thesis in six words. 

AM: Predicative noun phrases are Trojan horses.

OASIS: Thanks for joining us for this interview. We look forward to your talk at OASIS 3 / SPE 12.

Thank you, and thanks for the invitation.