Mayfest is a workshop that brings together researchers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives to discuss fundamental issues in linguistics.

This year’s Mayfest concerns the uses of context in theories of linguistic understanding. It also doubles as PHLINC3, the third biennial conference of PHLING, our reading and research group in Philosophy and Linguistics. The program for 2016 has these speakers: Robyn Carston, Lyn Frazier, Andrew Kehler, Ernest Lepore, Shevaun Lewis, Stephen Neale, Craige Roberts, Petra Schumacher, and Mandy Simons.

Context can play several roles in the general study of meaning: among others, mapping from sentences to semantic contents; coordinating actions in a rational conversation; and facilitating, via its representation in memory, the rapid comprehension of speakers. In each case our view of how context is involved shapes the theory of meaning to which it is auxiliary. At this Mayfest, we invite several scholars to discuss their own work on the role of context in a given area: semantics, pragmatics, adult or child psycholinguistics. We also ask them to speculate on how their view might, or might not, bear on the roles of context in other areas. How should theories of semantic content respond to the role of context in theories of conversation? How should theories of content or conversation respond to the representation of context in online comprehension? Or to the developmental course of its development in children? And how should views of context in semantics or pragmatics affect the agenda of psycholinguistics?