We kicked off our interest group with an online Autumn series in 2023. In 2024, we had a special Winter session in February, and we are having a Spring series starting in April. You can find our upcoming and past meetings below. To join our sessions, please send an email to ‘discomatix [dot] group [at] gmail [dot] com’.

Upcoming meetings

Spring series 2024

All sessions take place at 16:00 CET

May 14 - Panel discussion with Ira Noveck, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Napoleon Katsos, University of Cambridge, Petra Schumacher, University of Cologne

The past, present, and future of experimental pragmatics

For our special panel session we have invited three of the founding figures of the experimental pragmatics research program: Ira Noveck (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Napoleon Katsos (University of Cambridge), and Petra Schumacher (University of Cologne). Their extensive experience in the field and varying backgrounds promise a lively discussion on some of the core questions in our field. The panelists will share their insights into questions related to the bridging of theory and experimental practice, methodology, as well as the current theoretical landscape and how it affects the future of experimental research on discourse and pragmatics, as well as questions from the audience.

June 11 - Tatjana Scheffler, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Past meetings

Spring series 2024
April 9 - Nicole Gotzner, Osnabrück University

Bringing Grice to the lab: How to do interactive experiments on pragmatics and communication

Since Grice’s monumental proposal, communication is construed as a cooperative enterprise involving a speaker and a hearer. Yet most experimental research in Cognitive Science is monadic and this is at odds with the fact that communication is a joint activity (Pickering and Garrod, 2021). Moreover, it presents us with an empirical gap: almost no fair empirical test of the Gricean model exists. I will discuss two strands of research that try to close this gap. (1) Work on implicature with interactive dialog experiments (e.g. Gotzner and Benz, 2018; Benz and Gotzner, 2021) and (2) ongoing research on referential communication about concepts with Kristina Kobrock and Charlotte Uhlemann. At the end of my talk, I will briefly discuss how multi-agent modeling tools can be used to tackle core questions about communication.

For a recording of this talk, send us an email.
Winter session 2024

On February 6 we had a special themed session on multimodality in discourse and pragmatics with 5-min flash talks by the speakers below.

Anita Slonimska, Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics

Rethinking communicative efficiency: Insights from sign languages

Jonas Nölle, University of Glasgow

More than affect: Facial expressions serve as pragmatic signals in multimodal communication

Schuyler Laparle, Tilburg University

The iconicity of abstract structure: Gesturing discourse relations

For a recording of this session, send us an email.
Autumn series 2023
December 6 - Vera Demberg, Saarland University

Combining experimental work with computational modelling to better understand pragmatic processing

In this talk, I will argue that complementing experimental research with computational modelling can be highly beneficial for developing a deeper understanding of pragmatic processing in humans. I will illustrate this claim with an example from current research at our lab, where we investigated how comprehenders adapt to speaker-specific use of uncertainty expressions (e.g., one speaker uses the word “probably” rather generously in situations where the probability of the event is not all that high, vs. another speaker who uses the word “probably” more cautiously). Specifically, we were interested in individual differences between study participants with respect to how strongly they adapt their expectations / interpretations to how they have experienced the two speakers use uncertainty expressions like “probably”. We examined how any differences in adaptation are related to individual differences between participants (working memory updating, reasoning ability, linguistic experience, theory of mind abilities). In the experiment we found a correlation between adaptation strength and abilities in terms of working memory updating as measured by the keep track task. I will discuss our efforts in constructing a computational model of this effect, and what additional questions this exercise brought up.

For a recording of this talk, send us an email.
November 15 - Ingmar Brilmayer, University of Cologne

Combined eyetracking and EEG in an interactive setting: the what, the why and the wherefore

In this talk, I will talk about setup, data recording and data analysis in our interactive laboratory in Cologne. In the first part of the talk, I will talk about the requirements for interactive research in terms of hardware and software. In the second part of the talk, I will present two studies that we designed and conducted in our lab, the difficulties with building the experiment, as well as with data analysis that arise from the naturalistic design of the studies. In the last part, I will present results of these experiments, showing that, despite all the difficulties, it is worth the effort.

For a recording of this talk, send us an email.

October 18 - Chris Cummins, University of Edinburgh

Psychic linguistics?

Readers of experimental linguistics papers can occasionally be struck by a curious sensation. Based on what’s in the methods section, you don’t know whether a particular manipulation will make a difference to the outcome variable (say, response time), or in which direction it will shift if so. But when you look at the full lists of stimuli, you suddenly develop a strong sense of what’s going to happen, and that premonition comes true upon reading the rest of the paper.

In this talk I use this idea briefly to discuss three points: whether we’re allowed to ‘accidentally’ introduce confounds in our materials; how the main-text examples in a paper relate to what’s in the appendix; and under what circumstances it’s really necessary to leave the armchair and actually run a study.