24 March 2017

Yoad Winter receives ERC Grant for research in semantic theory

Prof. dr. Yoad Vinter Seggev. Foto Ed van Rijswijk
Prof. dr. Yoad Vinter Seggev. Photo Ed van Rijswijk

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a prestigious grant to prof Yoad Winter (Linguistics). Winter will receive an ERC Advanced Grant with a value of 2.5 million Euros. With the ERC Grants, the European Union stimulates pioneering research initiated by outstanding researchers themselves. The ERC Advanced Grant is a personal subsidy for a five-year period, awarded to exceptional researchers who are leaders in their field of research and who have demonstrated significant achievements in the last 10 years. Winter will conduct research on the way people use language to think and communicate about collections. 

The Formal Semantics of Collective Categorization

Languages have various ways of referring to collections like families, herds and forests. The grammatical properties of collective expressions critically determine how we understand them. The sentences this forest is old and these trees are old  categorize an arboreal collection using a concept (old), while conveying different meanings. This semantic difference correlates with the difference in grammatical number between the sentences: singular vs. plural. Such effects of collective categorization in language are crucial for understanding the connections between grammar and the mind, as well as for artificial intelligence.

However, currently little is known about the mechanisms underlying our linguistic ability to conceptualize collections. This project aims to develop a novel linguistic theory of this ability, applied to a wide range of empirical phenomena and interdisciplinary challenges in computational semantics and comparative linguistics, benefiting from the recent synergy between linguistics and the psychology of concepts.

See more information in Dutch

Inaugural Lecture

On the 10th of April Yoad Winter will hold his inaugural lecture (in Dutch) in the University Hall, Utrecht.