Baker Hall 155E
Mandy Simons joined the philosophy department in 1998. She came to CMU from Cornell University, where she received her Ph.D. from the department of Linguistics. She also holds an adjunct faculty position in the Linguistics department at the University of Pittsburgh.
Professor Simons's research addresses issues in the interpretation of natural language. Her work covers topics in formal semantics, pragmatics and the philosophy of language.
I am broadly interested in the question of how meaning is conveyed through language use. My research combines work in formal semantics, pragmatics, and the philosophy of langauge, with a focus on extra-linguistic aspects of interpretation. My primary interests at this time are in presupposition and in the overall architecture of the interpretation process.
What Projects and Why (with Judith Tonhauser, David Beaver and Craige Roberts). SALT 2010 (Vancouver) [pdf]
A Note on Projection and Local Implication (March 2010)
I make a distinction between two conceptions of projection which appear in the literature, which I dub Frege Projection and Houdini Projection. Frege projection is the mere sharing of non-entailed implications by related sentences. Houdini projection – the conception most common in the linguistic literature – involves the “escape” of a locally generated implication from the scope of an operator. Having made this distinction, I point out that claims in the literature that certain types of conversationally derived implication can project must be construed as claims of Frege projection, as these implications lack the locality necessary for Houdini projection. I then observe that some central, standard cases of presupposition have been claimed to have a conversational source, and point out the difficulties inherent in combining a conversational account of presupposition triggering with any of the standard algorithms for presupposition projection. I thus call into question the standard assumption that the triggering problem and the projection problem are independent. [pdf]
Presupposition and Cooperation
In this paper, I propose a novel view of presuppositions as those propositions which an interpreter must take the speaker to accept in order to take the speaker to be fully cooperative, in the Gricean sense. [pdf]
Presupposition without Common Ground.
In this paper, I review a number of arguments in favor of treating many of the central cases of presupposition as the result of conversational inference, rather than as lexically specified properties of particular expressions. I then argue that, despite the standard assumption to the contrary, the view of presupposition as constraints on the common ground is not consistent with the provision of a conversational account of particular presuppositional constraints. The argument revolves crucially around the workings of accommodation. I then offer an alternative view of the phenomenon of presupposition, which is compatible with a variety of sources for presuppositions. On the view offered here, presupposition is seen as a property of utterances. I argue that the presuppositions of an utterance are those propositions which an interpreter must take the speaker to accept in order to take the speaker to be fully cooperative, in the Gricean sense. [pdf]
Please note that the papers posted here are under copyright with the publishers. The PDFs are intended for personal academic use only.
Presupposition, Conventional Implicature, and Beyond: A unified account of projection (with Craige Roberts, David Beaver and Judith Tonhauser)
To appear in Nathan Klinedist and Daniel Rothschild (eds), Proceedings of Workshop on New Directions in the Theory of Presupposition, ESSLI 2009.
To appear in revised form in Marina Sbisa & Ken Turner (eds.), Speech Actions. [pdf]
To appear in Claudia Maienborn, Klaus von Heusinger & Paul Portner (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. [Word document]
A Gricean View on Intrusive Implicatures
To appear in Klaus Petrus (ed.), Meaning and Analysis: New Essays on H. Paul Grice.
This paper explores one of the long-standing objections to Grice’s account of conversational implicature: the case of purported implicatures which are apparently generated by subordinate clauses, or which fall under the scope of a logical operator (typically both). Such cases, for reasons to be detailed below, pose a challenge to Grice’s account. While those who have posed the challenge, ranging from advocates of truth conditional pragmatics to strict compositionalists, have a wide variety of views as to the correct account of the data, they are united in reaching the same negative conclusion: that Grice’s account cannot be extended to intrusive implicatures.
In this paper, I will argue for a different conclusion. I will suggest that there is a natural modification of Grice’s model which allows for the generation of implicatures from non-asserted sentence-parts. The goal of the paper is to articulate this modification and apply it to some sample cases. This is done in part 2 of the paper. In part 1, I introduce the cases to be investigated and explain in a little more detail what issues they raise. [pdf]
Foundational Issues in Presupposition.
Philosophy Compass 1 (4), 357-372, 2006.
This essay provides a brief introduction to the topic of presupposition, and then discuses three major approaches to this phenomenon, focusing on the answers which each approach gives to two foundational questions: What is presupposition? And how, or why, does it arise? [pdf]
Observations on embedding verbs, evidentiality, and presupposition.
Lingua 117(6), 1034-1056, 2007.
This paper discusses the semantically parenthetical use of clause-embedding verbs such as see, hear, think, believe, discover and know. When embedding verbs are used in this way, the embedded clause carries the main point of the utterance, while the main clause serves some discourse function. Frequently, this function is evidential, with the parenthetical verb carrying information about the source and reliability of the embedded claim, or about the speaker’s emotional orientation to it. Other functions of parenthetical uses of verbs are discussed.Particular attention is paid to the parenthetical uses of semi-factive and factive verbs. It is demonstrated that when so used, these verbs are in no way presuppositional; that is, there is no presumption, or even pretense, that their complements have common ground status. It is further demonstrated that the loss of presuppositionality is not accompanied by a loss of factivity: in their parenthetical use, these verbs are non-presuppositional, but still factive. It is argued that this non-presuppositional use of factive verbs provides support for the (minority) view that presupposition is not a conventional property of lexical items. [pdf]
"On the Conversational Basis of Some Presuppositions"
Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 11, 2001. [pdf]
"Disjunction and Alternativeness".
Linguistics and Philosophy Volume 24(5), 2001. [pdf]
Issues in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Disjunction. NY: Garland Publishing, 2000.
"On the felicity conditions of disjunctive sentences" Proceedings of the Western Conference on Linguistics (WECOL), 1999.
"Pronouns and Definite Descriptions."
The Journal of Philosophy. Vol. XCIII, Number 8: 408-420, 1996.
"Disjunction and Anaphora"
Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 6: 245-260, 1996.
"The binyan hitpa'el decomposed"
Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Conference of the Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics: 143-167, 1995.
I teach a variety of courses in formal linguistics and philosophy of language. Here are brief descriptions of those which I teach on a regular basis.
Nature of Language (80-180)
An introduction to the systematic study of human language, spanning issues in the philosophy of language and contemporary linguistics.
Linguistic Analysis (80-280)
A hands-on course teaching analysis of natural language. This course is a requirement for the Linguistics Minor.
Philosophy of Language (80-380/680)
A reading course which provides a survey of modern approaches to central topics in the Philosophy of Language.
Formal Semantics (80-481/781)
A high level introduction to the practice of Natural Language Semantics in a formal framework.