This page outlines some of the main topics I have worked on using approaches from compositional semantics. (Despite separating this work from pragmatics as an organizational structure, I do not believe in a crisp division of any kind between semantics and pragmatics.)

Related teaching: Semantics 1 and 2 introduce compositional semantics in detail, and I often teach seminars that cover special topics in semantics/pragmatics.

Conditionals

One of my main areas of research has been conditionals, especially ‘non-canonical’ conditional constructions such as unconditionals. Throughout this work I have developed the approach from Lewis, Kratzer, and Heim, where a “conditional” is any structure where an adjunct restricts the domain of a modal quantifier. However, this approach needs to handle a range of possibilities for both the antecedent and the consequent of a conditional structure beyond the traditional well-studied English “if”-“then” case. (Rawlins 2008; Rawlins 2008; Isaacs & Rawlins 2008; Rawlins 2010; Frana & Rawlins 2011; Rawlins 2013; Bledin & Rawlins 2019; Rawlins to appear)

  1. Bledin, Justin & Kyle Rawlins. 2019. What if? Semantics & Pragmatics (Early Access) 12(14). DOI: 10.3765/sp.12.14
  2. Frana, Ilaria & Kyle Rawlins. 2011. Unconditional Concealed Questions and the nature of Heim’s ambiguity. In Neil Ashton, Anca Chereches, & David Lutz (eds.), Proceedings of SALT 21, 495–514. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v21i0.2623
  3. Isaacs, James & Kyle Rawlins. 2008. Conditional Questions. Journal of Semantics 25. 269–319. DOI: 10.1093/jos/ffn003
  4. Rawlins, Kyle. 2008. (Un)conditionals: an investigation in the syntax and semantics of conditional structures. UC Santa Cruz: Ph.D. Dissertation. Download: https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/rawlins/wp-content/blogs.dir/28/files/2013/11/rawlins_dissertation.pdf
  5. Rawlins, Kyle. 2008. Unifying if-conditionals and unconditionals. In Tova Friedman & Satoshi Ito (eds.), Proceedings of SALT 18, 583–600. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v18i0.2512
  6. Rawlins, Kyle. 2010. Conversational backoff. In Nan Li & David Lutz (eds.), Proceedings of SALT 20, 347–365. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v20i0.2550
  7. Rawlins, Kyle. 2013. (Un)conditionals. Natural Language Semantics 21(2). 111–178. DOI: 10.1007/s11050-012-9087-0
  8. Rawlins, Kyle. to appear. Biscuit conditionals. In Semantics Companion, Blackwell.

See also: Modification, Suppositional questions

Modification

I became interested in modifiers as an undergraduate, and have worked on related topics off and on ever since. Most recently I have focused on how modifiers relate to arguments. Here are some papers around this topic (setting aside my work on conditionals above): Rawlins 2008; Rawlins 2008; Rawlins 2013; Rissman, Rawlins & Landau 2015; Rissman & Rawlins 2017; Kim et al. 2019

See also: Conditionals, Lexical semantics

  1. Kim, Najoung, Kyle Rawlins, Benjamin Van Durme & Paul Smolensky. 2019. Predicting argumenthood of English preposition phrases. In Proceedings of the 33rd AAAI conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-2019), 6578–6585. DOI: 10.1609/aaai.v33i01.33016578
  2. Rawlins, Kyle. 2008. (Un)conditionals: an investigation in the syntax and semantics of conditional structures. UC Santa Cruz: Ph.D. Dissertation. Download: https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/rawlins/wp-content/blogs.dir/28/files/2013/11/rawlins_dissertation.pdf
  3. Rawlins, Kyle. 2008. Unifying ‘Illegally.’ In Johannes Dölling, Tatjana Heyde-Zybatow, & Martin Schäfer (eds.), Event Structures in Linguistic Form and Interpretation, 81–102. Mouton de Gruyter. DOI: 10.1515/9783110925449.81
  4. Rawlins, Kyle. 2013. On adverbs of (space and) time. In Boban Arsenijević, Berit Gehrke, & Rafael Marín (eds.), Studies in the composition and decomposition of event predicates, 153–194. Springer. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-5983-1_7
  5. Rissman, Lilia & Kyle Rawlins. 2017. Ingredients of Instrumental Meaning. Journal of Semantics 34(3). 507–537. DOI: 10.1093/jos/ffx003
  6. Rissman, Lilia, Kyle Rawlins & Barbara Landau. 2015. Using instruments to understand argument structure: evidence for gradient representation. Cognition 142. 266–290. DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.05.015

Clause-embedding

One of the central properties of human natural language is that it allows recursion, and the fact that clauses can be embedded within clauses is one of the central examples of recursion. This line of research seeks to understand systems of clause-embedding in natural language, often by looking at the lexicon as a whole using crowd-sourced data. (Frana & Rawlins 2011; Rawlins 2013; White & Rawlins 2016; White & Rawlins 2018; White & Rawlins 2018; White et al. 2018; White & Rawlins 2019)

See also: Questions and compositionality, The MegaAttitude Project

  1. Frana, Ilaria & Kyle Rawlins. 2011. Unconditional Concealed Questions and the nature of Heim’s ambiguity. In Neil Ashton, Anca Chereches, & David Lutz (eds.), Proceedings of SALT 21, 495–514. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v21i0.2623
  2. Rawlins, Kyle. 2013. About ‘about.’ In Neil Snider (ed.), Proceedings of SALT 23, 336–357. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v23i0.2688
  3. White, Aaron Steven & Kyle Rawlins. 2016. A computational model of S-selection. In Mary Moroney, Carol-Rose Little, Jacob Collard, & Dan Burgdorf (eds.), Proceedings of SALT 26, 641–663. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v26i0.3819
  4. White, Aaron Steven & Kyle Rawlins. 2018. Question agnosticism and change of state. In Robert Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern, & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of SuB 21, 1325–1342. Download: https://ojs.ub.uni-konstanz.de/sub/index.php/sub/article/view/201
  5. White, Aaron Steven & Kyle Rawlins. 2018. The role of veridicality and factivity in clause selection. In Sherry Hucklebridge & Max Nelson (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 48, Download: https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/004012
  6. White, Aaron Steven & Kyle Rawlins. 2019. Frequency, acceptability, and selection: a case study of clause-embedding. In submission, Glossa. Download: https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/004596
  7. White, Aaron Steven, Rachel Rudinger, Kyle Rawlins & Benjamin Van Durme. 2018. Lexicosyntactic Inference in Neural Models. In Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, 4717–4724. Association for Computational Linguistics. Download: https://aclweb.org/anthology/D18-1501/

Questions and compositionality

Together with my pragmatic interests in questions, I have also worked on a range of topics asking how questions are constructed compositionally, both in embedded and unembedded contexts. A selection of relevant publications includes Rawlins 2008; Kramer & Rawlins 2011; Kramer & Rawlins 2010; Frana & Rawlins 2011; Kramer & Rawlins 2012; Rawlins 2013; Atkinson et al. 2016; White & Rawlins 2018.

See also: The dynamics of questions, Clause-embedding

  1. Atkinson, Emily, Aaron Apple, Kyle Rawlins & Akira Omaki. 2016. Similarity of wh-phrases and acceptability variation in wh-islands. Frontiers of Psychology 12. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.02048
  2. Frana, Ilaria & Kyle Rawlins. 2011. Unconditional Concealed Questions and the nature of Heim’s ambiguity. In Neil Ashton, Anca Chereches, & David Lutz (eds.), Proceedings of SALT 21, 495–514. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v21i0.2623
  3. Kramer, Ruth & Kyle Rawlins. 2010, January. Polarity particles and ellipsis: a (somewhat) cross-linguistic perspective. Talk at UCSC workshop on polarity particles. Download: https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/rawlins/files/2013/11/kramer.rawlins.ucsc_.2010.handout2.pdf
  4. Kramer, Ruth & Kyle Rawlins. 2011. Polarity particles: an ellipsis account. In Suzi Lima, Kevin Mullin, & Brian Smith (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 39, 479–492. Download: https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/rawlins/wp-content/blogs.dir/28/files/2013/11/kramer_rawlins_nels.pdf
  5. Kramer, Ruth & Kyle Rawlins. 2012, June. An ellipsis approach to polarity particles across languages. Talk at Workshop on the Syntax of ‘yes’ and ‘no’, University of Newcastle. Download: https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/rawlins/wp-content/blogs.dir/28/files/2013/11/kramer.rawlins.newcastle.2012.pdf
  6. Rawlins, Kyle. 2008. (Un)conditionals: an investigation in the syntax and semantics of conditional structures. UC Santa Cruz: Ph.D. Dissertation. Download: https://sites.krieger.jhu.edu/rawlins/wp-content/blogs.dir/28/files/2013/11/rawlins_dissertation.pdf
  7. Rawlins, Kyle. 2013. About ‘about.’ In Neil Snider (ed.), Proceedings of SALT 23, 336–357. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v23i0.2688
  8. White, Aaron Steven & Kyle Rawlins. 2018. Question agnosticism and change of state. In Robert Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern, & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of SuB 21, 1325–1342. Download: https://ojs.ub.uni-konstanz.de/sub/index.php/sub/article/view/201