Cool Logic

Flavia Nährlich (ILLC)

Comparative Illusions - How one sentence can challenge fundamental principles in linguistics + PACMED Presentation

May 13th at 18:00, in ZOOM

UPDATE: Zoom ID: 97714467069 At 18:00, Giovanni Cina, who is an ILLC alumnus and now works for Pacmed (, will give a short presentation (15-20 minutes) about research internships offered by Pacmed in collaboration with the ILLC. After that, at around 18:30, Flavia Nährlich will give her Cool Logic talk. Here's the abstract: Certain comparative sentences like "More people have been to Russia than I have." are known as so-called comparative illusions. Native speakers of English judge these statements as acceptable, i.e. report that they are proper English sentences with a coherent interpretation. However, it turns out that people struggle to articulate that interpretation. In fact, it is not clear at all if there is a coherent meaning that we can assign or where the illusion of grammatical correctness originates from. This challenges some of our most basic assumptions about language architecture, like that we perceive sentences veridically, interpret them fully and that sentence form and meaning are tightly coupled. During the talk, I will present a possible solution for all these problems, the category mismatch hypothesis, I developed based on existing experimental data and some German examples.