Dorothy Ahn gave a keynote talk in the Workshop on Experimental approaches to Language Universals in Structure and Meaning, held at ESSLLI2021 on August 2 2021.
Title: Semantic and pragmatic universals in definiteness
Definiteness is a core property of natural language that has been investigated extensively. In this talk, I give an overview of relevant semantic and pragmatic tendencies that have been identified in the literature and show how recent typological and experimental studies from the last two decades have updated our view of how languages encode definiteness. To do so, I will focus on two case studies: a) the marking of familiarity in Mandarin, and b) the use of space to mark different referents in American Sign Language. What we will see from experimental studies is that many of the cross-linguistic patterns observed in marking definiteness result not from hard-wired semantic principles but from more general pragmatic tendencies.
Here is the link to the workshop.