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Pragmatics: Theory & Experiments

We investigate how speakers go beyond linguistically encoded meaning in communication, and how children develop this ability.

A girl whispering to a boy. Photo.
Photo: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

About the group

Pragmatics is the field of study at the intersection of linguistics with psychology and philosophy which studies human communication.

We can (and often do) communicate something different from the meaning of the words that we utter. The founding question of pragmatics is: How is this possible? How can a speaker and her addressee coordinate on a meaning going beyond the linguistic code?

Our group explores the theories that are proposed, how they are increasingly being tested in experimental work, and how this ability develops in children.

What we do

Our main aim is to help people in and around Oslo who are interested in pragmatics to talk to each other and share ideas. We hope that this will lead to interesting discussion and productive cooperation of all kinds, formal and informal.

To get things going, we are going to organise some events with invited speakers (see below). 

Upcoming events

The future of pragmatics: lecture series in spring 2022

A series of talks on the future of developmental and experimental pragmatics. We have asked each speaker to present some of their ongoing research and invited them to give their view on what is exciting in pragmatics right now and what interesting open questions they see.

Speakers include Anna Papafragou (U. Penn), Valentina Bambini (IUSS, Pavia), Diana Mazzarella (University of Neuchâtel) and Nausicaa Pouscoulous (UCL), and Mikhail Kissine (Université libre de Bruxelles).

For dates and times see our events page

Past events

Inaugural lecture: Ira Noveck: Isolating the pragmatic contribution that can be found in words

14.15–15.30, 11th May 2021, online. Please email us to get the Zoom link

Our first event was a talk from Ira Noveck, one of the leading figures in experimental pragmatics.


After discussing (what one can learn from) an attempt to replicate a standard conversational (scalar) implicature effect through crowdsourcing, I turn to work that attempts to use signature pragmatic effects (reaction-time slowdowns and developmental delays) to investigate cases in which it is safe to assume that a word's meaning includes a pragmatic component.  In the interest of time, I will focus mainly on recently accepted work that investigates the European French "contrapositive" response, Si.  This response felicitously deals with the potential ambiguity in negative polar questions (such as "It [the candy] is not in the white box?") by indicating that the implicit affirmative is indeed the case (that the candy is indeed in the white box).  


The group brings together people who are interested in pragmatics from across the University of Oslo and the surrounding region, including these institutions:

Associated projects

Published Mar. 5, 2021 12:09 PM - Last modified Feb. 22, 2022 4:15 PM