Event Date: Thursday, 13 June, 2019
Location: 11-13, Sala Riunioni, Pal. Venera
Speaker: Prof. James Pustejovsky (Brandeis University)
Title: The Semantics of Affordances
Abstract: In this talk, I discuss the requirements on a semantics for situated and grounded meaning. I argue that the creation and updating of common ground in discourse relies on a sophisticated body of knowledge involving how we manipulate and use objects, and how we inhabit and exploit spaces for specific goals. Gibson called such knowledge “object affordances”, but his characterization of how we encode teleological cues through perception is too narrow to capture the full range of how teleological reasoning permeates our interpretation of language and behavior. I show how the semantics of function and purpose, as modeled in Generative Lexicon, are an integral component of both the lexical and compositional semantics of natural language.
James Pustejovsky is the TJX Feldberg Chair in Computer Science at Brandeis University, where he is also Chair of the Linguistics Program, Chair of the Computational Linguistics MA Program, and Director of the Lab for Linguistics and Computation. He received his B.S. from MIT and his Ph.D. from UMASS at Amherst. He has worked on computational and lexical semantics for twenty five years and is chief developer of Generative Lexicon Theory. He has been committed to developing linguistically expressive lexical data resources for the CL and AI community. Since 2002, he has also been involved in the development of standards and annotated corpora for semantic information in language. Pustejovsky is chief architect of TimeML and ISO-TimeML, a recently adopted ISO standard for temporal information in language, as well as ISO-Space, a specification for spatial information in language. James Pustejovsky has authored and/or edited numerous books, including Generative Lexicon (MIT, 1995), The Problem of Polysemy (CUP, with B. Boguraev,1996), The Language of Time: A Reader (OUP, with I. Mani and R. Gaizauskas, 2005), Interpreting Motion: Grounded Representations for Spatial Language (OUP, with I. Mani, 2012), and Natural Language Annotation for Machine Learning, O’Reilly, 2012 (with A. Stubbs). Recently, he has been developing a modeling framework for representing linguistic expressions, gestures, and interactions as multimodal simulations. This platform, VoxML/VoxSim, enables real-time communication between humans and computers and robots for joint tasks. Recent books include: Recent Advances in Generative Lexicon Theory, (Springer, 2013); The Handbook of Linguistic Annotation, Springer, 2017 (edited with Nancy Ide), and two textbooks, The Lexicon, Cambridge University Press, 2019 (with O. Batiukova), and Introduction to Generative Lexicon Theory, Oxford University Press, 2020 (with E. Jezek). He is presently finishing a book on temporal information processing for O’Reilly with L. Derczynski and M. Verhagen.