Projet FNS "Verbal tenses and subjectivity: an empirical cognitive approach"

Un nouveau projet FNS intitulé "Verbal tenses and subjectivity: an empirical cognitive approach” soumis par le professeur Jacques Moeschler, avec Cristina Grisot (post-doctorante), a été accepté pour financement pendant 3 ans. Félicitations à eux!
En voici le résumé:
This research project aims at investigating the pragmatics of verbal tenses and their relation to subjectivity in two languages: French and Romanian. In the cognitive pragmatics approach of language, the meaning of temporal markers such as verbal tenses, grammatical aspect and temporal adverbials is determined during the interpretation process under the combined pressure of the linguistic context, the general world knowledge mutually manifest to the participants at the communicative act and pragmatic cognitive principles, all guiding the inference toward the most relevant interpretation, which corresponds to the meaning intended by the speaker (Relevance Theory, RT, Sperber & Wilson 1986; Wilson & Sperber 2004). The question that arises given this framework of language comprehension is the place occupied by subjectivity in the interpretation process of a discourse in general, and of verbal tenses in particular. Does it belong to the linguistic context (in other words, is it encoded at the lexical and/or grammatical levels of a language), is it a purely pragmatic phenomenon or is it a phenomenon situated at the semantics-pragmatics interface (in other words, the result of an inferential process triggered by linguistic elements). The current state of the research is largely unbalanced between these two Romance languages both regarding the verbal tense system and subjectivity. The research will build on the rich state of the art regarding the pragmatics of verbal tenses in French  and it will be carried on two levels. At the first level, we aim at proposing a fine-grained and comprehensive model of the relations between verbal tenses and subjectivity in French. At the second level, we aim at developing a cognitive pragmatic model of verbal tenses in Romanian, with a focus on verbal tenses that are more likely to have subjective usages.
Hence, the main output of VTS will be an empirically (corpus-based and experimental) and fine-grained theoretical cognitive pragmatic model of temporal markers and subjectivity in two Romance languages. The research will be carried out by a unified team with complementary competences: the applicant, specialist in the pragmatics of temporal markers and connectives among others and native speaker of French, a post-doc, native speaker of Romanian, mastering French and English, and specialist in theoretical and experimental pragmatics and corpus linguistics, and a candoc, native speaker of Romanian with a solid knowledge of pragmatics. The research team will be located at the Department of Linguistics from University of Geneva, which has the material and human resources necessary to successfully carry out the research presented in this project.
This project will provide an answer to questions regarding the status of subjectivity, its role for the processing of temporal markers and the nature of the semantics-pragmatics interface. Besides the fundamental contribution of this project to a less investigated language in a cognitive pragmatic framework, it also aims at proposing a model that is applicable to several fields such as translation studies, Natural Language Processing (NLP), statistical machine translation (SMT) and language teaching (Romanian L1-French L2 and Romanian L2).

26 octobre 2016