Purpose and credo


We are interested in answering these questions:

What basic ontological building blocks do we use to talk about the world ?

Entities, events, states, traits, tropes, times, situations, occasions, properties, possible worlds, kinds, degrees, forces, dispositions, intentions, abilities, attitudes, propositions....

How do these building blocks combine ?

Type-driven rules of composition, semantically interpretable syntactic features, conceptual operations, controlled vs. automatic processes...

How do grammatical and cognitive phenomena motivate the answers to the first two questions?

Causation, predication, categorization, actionality, temporality, genericity, modality, evidentiality, the mass/count distinction, plurality/pluractionality, possession, conditionals and counterfactuality...


We believe in the following principles:

There is a formal semantic ontology

Formalism is crucial to constrain the theory space.

We have no a priori commitment to parsimonious ontologies: The ontology may include relationships, types, functions or entities that were not initially captured with traditional logical/formal tools, and the grammar may make reference to these with atoms even if they are analyzed further by a conceptual system.

Its relationship to grammar matters

Linguistic structure and morphology provide clues to the structure of meaning, which in turn provides information about the ontology.

Improved theories of ontology should improve theories of syntax and semantics.

Simple morphosyntax implies that any semantic complexity is in cognition, not language.

Its relationship to cognition matters

Mappings between linguistic predicates and conceptual properties are not necessarily the identity mapping.

We can ask whether any particular bit of complexity is in language or in cognition.

Theoretical linguists should be able to provide sources of hypotheses for cognitive researchers to pursue, and the results should in turn inform linguistic theory.

Communication between diverse frameworks is worthwhile

Working across differing ontological commitments is not always easy but valuable.

We make efforts to facilitate intra- and interdisciplinary communication in the face of terminological, sociological, and pedagogical barriers.

It is absolutely necessary to examine less-familiar languages when making claims about language vs. cognition.