The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Exp/Comp 4/14 - Qiu, Puvipalan & Tieu (University of Toronto)

Time: Friday, April 14th, 3.30-5pm 
Speakers: Jimmy Qiu, Vaishnavy Puvipalan & Lyn Tieu (University of Toronto)
Location: The talk will be virtual (on Zoom) but we will still be meeting in 32-D831!

Title: An experimental investigation of the inferences of emoji

Schlenker (2018) proposes a typology of ‘co-speech’, ‘pro-speech’, and ‘post-speech’ gestures, distinguished by whether the gestures are ‘external’ (can be eliminated without affecting the acceptability of the sentence) or ‘internal’, and whether the gestures occupy their own timeslot. Pierini (2021) extends Schlenker’s typology to emoji, identifying a set of predictions for how emoji should be interpreted in different kinds of sentences. First, ‘co-text emoji’, which immediately follow written text (e.g., John didn’t train today 🏋️) trigger ‘cosuppositional’ inferences (conditionalized assertion-dependent presuppositions) that project from embedded environments (if John had trained today, weight-lifting would have been involved). Second, ‘pro-text emoji’, which fully replace words (e.g., The egg will not 🐣), have an at-issue semantics and can trigger standard presuppositions (the egg is currently unhatched). Finally, ‘post-text emoji’, separated from accompanying text by a pause (e.g., appearing in the subsequent text message), generate supplements, which are degraded in negative environments. In this talk, we will describe a set of studies that investigate and ultimately provide experimental support for the predictions made in Pierini (2021).