[Colloquium] On the syntax and semantics of declared contradictions in German - Daniel Schmidt-Brücken - University of Bremen

Event Date: 

Thursday, March 7, 2019 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Event Location: 

  • South Hall 3605
The social and scientific relevance of contradictions becomes obvious in light of current discourses dealing with fake news, climate change (and its denial), or social integration and ostracism, to name only a few. A theoretical assumption my project is based on is that a relation of incommensurability between two propositions is not some a priori given fact but the result of a linguistic declaration (in the sense of Searle’s more recent work) in an appropriate discursive context. Thus, contradiction is not only a logical relation of p ∧ ¬p, but a verbally produced and cognitively construed perspective on the world. The overall project aims at a comprehensive description of the syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic features of contradiction declared in and by language use.
In my talk, I will focus on a syntactic analysis of German-language corpus data, discussing instances of some two relata being declared a “contradiction in terms”. I will present a qualitative case study to identify grammatical constructions relating (lexical or propositional) concepts as contradictory. Furthermore, I will discuss some observations of secondary phenomena correlating with the identified constructions, as well as methodological implications regarding explicitly and non-explicitly declared contradictions.