Designed by Justin Moore ’15. His update to the mark for the conference, which continues to draw inspiration from the black-and-white illustrations of Italian constructivist Franco Grignani, reflects the ever-fluctuating nature of language and semantic change.


Meaning in Flux 2019: Connecting development, variation, and change
Yale University, New Haven, CT
October 10th -12th, 2019
Linsly-Chittenden Hall (63 High St.)



The connections between meanings and the pronunciations through which they are linguistically conveyed vary systematically within a speech community and change systematically over time.  Many synchronic and diachronic patterns that instantiate such dynamics have been well described, yet the cognitive and communicative forces that support them—including their discourse-based, linguistic, conceptual, and cognitive components—remain poorly understood. The focus of this conference is to bring together researchers working on one or more of these facets with the aim of connecting development, variation, and change.
We invite abstracts for talks at the intersection of semantics/pragmatics, information/discourse structure, phonetics/phonology (of spoken and signed languages), language variation, language change, and language and cognitive development. We highly encourage submissions presenting in-progress results, covering not only connections between existing analyses and cognitively-grounded explanatory models but also the methodological challenges that arise.
Specifically, in this workshop we would like to address the following questions:
(a) to what extent are trajectories of meaning-pronunciation dynamics construable as dynamics that emerge from and are guided by real-time implementation of the architecture of language and the larger cognitive system?
(b) how are the actuation and propagation of these dynamics driven by discourse context and other communicative constraints?
(c) how are the causal relations between the arcs of acquisition/development and change in meaning-pronunciations informed by processing constraints?
We are planning this very much as a retreat, with discussion driven by foundational questions on meaning -pronunciation development, variation, and change, as well as the struggle of messy data.  We are seeking to bring together all kinds of perspectives on meaning and phonetics/phonology representation, as well as all experimental and empirical approaches, as exemplified by our invited speakers.


Confirmed invited speakers:
Susan Carey, Harvard U. Psychology
Herbert Clark, Stanford U. Psychology
Jennifer Cole, Northwestern U. Linguistics
Veneeta Dayal, Yale U. Linguistics


Deadline: 11:59 PM of your local time zone on Monday June 10th, 2019: Extended: Monday June 17th

Notification: Monday July 15th, 2019

Format: Two pages, 8.5” x 11” or A4, comprising text, figures, tables, references, etc., as needed.  Please maintain 1” margins on all sides, and use at least size 12 font. Abstracts should be headed by the title in bold, and should not contain any author information.Please submit your abstracts using the form at: and address any questions to

Confirmed scientific committee: 

Claire Bowern, Yale U. Linguistics
António Branco, U. of Lisbon Informatics
Kathryn Davidson, Harvard U. Linguistics
Ashwini Deo, The Ohio State U. Linguistics
Kathryn Franich, U. of Delaware Linguistics and Cognitive Science
Roberta Golinkoff, U. of Delaware Education/Psychology/Linguistics
Argyro Katsika, UC Santa Barbara Linguistics
María Mercedes Piñango, Yale U. Linguistics/Psychology
Jennie Pyers, Wellesley C. Psychology
Federico Rossano, UC San Diego Cognitive Science
Paula Rubio-Fernández, MIT Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Petra Schumacher, U. of Cologne German
Jason Shaw, Yale U. Linguistics
Heike Wiese, Humboldt U. Linguistics
Alan Yu, U. of Chicago Linguistics


Organizing committee:
Catalina Mourgues*, Emanuel Souza de Quadros, Garima Chopra*, Jason Shaw*, Jisu Sheen*, Joshua Phillips, Kate Stanton , María Mercedes Piñango*, Martín Fuchs*, Muye (Andy) Zhang*, Nanyan Wu*, Randi Martinez,  and Sarah Babinski*
(*-Executive Committee)

Videos from the conference can be accessed here


|You can find further details and abstracts in the program booklet, attached at the bottom of this page|

Thursday October 10th, 2019
14:30 – 15:30 Registration & Snacks  (LC Lobby)
15:30 – 16:00 Welcome Remarks by Alan Gerber, Dean of Social Sciences

Yale University

& María Mercedes Piñango

Yale University

16:00 – 17:00 Plenary Talk I  (LC 102)
Meaning in the Moment Herbert Clark

Stanford University

17:00 – 18:40 Session 1  (LC 102)
Moderator Veneeta Dayal

Yale University

17:00 – 17:20 Real-time methods for diachronic semantics: the PROG-to-IMPF shift in Spanish Martín Fuchs & María Mercedes Piñango

Yale University

17:20 – 17:40 Interpreting semantic judgment tests on subjectivity and intersubjectivity Sayaka Abe

Middlebury College

17:40 – 18:00 Two cross-linguistic studies on the acquisition of definiteness and Theory of Mind Paula Rubio-Fernández, MIT

Vishakha Shukla, Shroff Hospital Delhi

Madeleine Long , University of Oslo

Fatoumata Jallow, The Gambia College

Marta Bialecka-Pikul, Jagiellonian University

Julian Jara-Ettinger, Yale University

18:00 – 18:40 Discussion
18:40 – 20:30 Reception  (LC Foyer)
Friday October 11th, 2019
8:30 – 9:20 Breakfast  (LC Foyer)
9:20 – 10:20 Plenary Talk II  (LC 102)
Genericity and (In)Definiteness: A Cross-linguistic Perspective Veneeta Dayal

Yale University

10:20 – 11:30 Session 2  (LC 102)
Moderator Josh Phillips

Yale University

10:20 – 10:40 Pragmatic and semantic influences on nominal morphosyntax in Kwéyòl Donmnik: Insights from information status, specificity, and deixis Joy Peltier

University of Michigan

10:40- 11:00 Exemplar-Driven Categorial Grammar as a Framework for Studying the Dynamics of Semantic Change Emanuel Quadros

Yale University

11:00 – 11:30 Discussion
11:30 – 12:00 Lunch  (LC Foyer)
12:00 – 13:00 Plenary Talk III  (LC 101)
When meaning changes reflect conceptual change;  the possibility (and actuality) of episodes of conceptual construction over time Susan Carey

Harvard University

13:00 – 13:20 Coffee
13:20 – 15:00 Session 3  (LC 101)
Moderator María Mercedes Piñango

Yale University

13:20 – 13:40 Social meaning in sales interaction at a multilingual urban street market Britta Shulte & Irem Duman

University of Potsdam

13:40 – 14:00 Acquiring sociophonetic variation in the globalized world: style-shifting and metalinguistic awareness of Polish-English-speaking adolescents in the UK Kinga Kozminska & Hua Zhu

Birbeck College, University of London

14:00 – 14:20 Comprehension of underspecified meaning and the impact of individuals’ autistic traits Yao-Ying Lai, Michiru Makuuchi National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities, Japan

María Mercedes Piñango, Yale University

& Hiromu Sakai, Waseda University

14:20 – 15:00 Discussion
15:00 – 15:20 Coffee & Desserts
15:20 – 16:30 Session 4  (LC 101)
Moderator Paula Rubio-Fernandez


15:20 – 15:40 Toddlers both hear and recognize polysemous word meanings: corpus and eye tracking evidence Sammy Floyd, Princeton University

Libby Barak, Rutgers University

Adele Goldberg & Casey Lew-Williams, Princeton University

15:40 – 16:00 The effect of bilingualism and bi-dialectalism on irony comprehension Kyriakos Antoniou & George Spanoudis

University of Cyprus

16:00 – 16:30 Discussion
16:30 – 16:50 Coffee & Snacks
16:50 – 18:00 Session 5  (LC 101)
Moderator Susan Carey

Harvard University

16:50 – 17:10 The development of metonymic comprehension as the growth of context-construal ability Muye Zhang, María Mercedes Piñango & Jisu Sheen

Yale University

17:10 – 17:30 Partial Meanings Eve Clark

Stanford University

17:30 – 18:00 Discussion
18:30 – 20:30 Dinner  (Luce Hall)
Saturday October 12th, 2019
8:30 – 9:00 Breakfast  (LC Foyer)
9:00 – 10:00 Plenary Talk IV  (LC 101)

The listener’s dilemma: interpreting speaker meaning from posody under variable encoding

Jennifer Cole

Northwestern University

10:00 – 11:40 Session 6  (LC 101)
Moderator Jason Shaw

Yale University

10:00 – 10:20 The relationship between syntactic distributions and prosodic position Nick Lester, University of Zurich

& Argyro Katsika, University of California, Santa Barbara

10:20 – 10:40 Prosodic de-emphasis under non-identity: In support of a pragmatic account Jeffrey Geiger & Ming Xiang

University of Chicago

10:40 – 11:00 Meaning-intonation mapping in flux: Navigating variability through talker-sensitive adaptation Andrés Buxo-Lugo & Chigusa Kurumada

University of Rochester

11:00 – 11:40 Discussion
11:40 – 12:00 Coffee & Snacks
12:00 – 13:10 Session 7  (LC 101)
Moderator Sarah Babinski

Yale University

12:00 – 12:20 Accommodation to observed vs. expected behavior in an alien language Lacey Wade & Gareth Roberts

University of Pennsylvania

12:20 – 12:40 Behavior of homophones does not support irregular phonological change Chelsea Sanker

Yale University

12:40 – 13:10 Discussion
13:10 – 13:30 Lunch  (LC Foyer)
13:30 – 14:40 Session 8  (LC 101)
Moderator Jennifer Cole

Northwestern University

13:30 – 13:50 Negation in flux: a negative concord stage in child English Kathryn Davidson

Harvard University

13:50 – 14:10 Does a communicative partner’s behavior affect children’ s informativeness? Myrto Grigoroglou & Patricia Genea

University of Toronto

14:10 – 14:40 Discussion
14:40 – 15:00 Coffee & Dessert
15:00 – 16:00 Panel
16:00 – 17:00 Conclusion
17:00 – 21:00 Party  (Pierson College Fellow’s Lounge)

A livestream of the conference will be posted on the Yale Linguistics department’s facebook page, Thursday-Saturday:

Booklet(pdf): meaning_in_flux_2019_booklet