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Workshop Implicit Causality

DateThursday, 13th October 2016

veranstalter: GRK 1624
ansprechpartner: Emiel van den Hoven
institution: HPSL
language: Englisch
location institution: Freiburg
date_raw: 13./14. Oktober 2014
date_sort: 13.10.2016, 00:00:00

More than 40 years ago, Garvey and Caramazza (1974:460) found that
“[a] number of verbs when used, at least, with nouns referencing human
or animate beings import an implicit attribution of the cause of the
action or attitude indicated by the verb. One or the other of the noun
phrases is implicated as the assumed locus of the underlying cause of
the action or attitude.”

Despite the large amount of studies on implicit causality (IC) that
followed Garvey and Caramazza’s seminal study, a number of questions
surrounding IC remained unanswered for a long time. For instance, is a
reader/listener’s preference for a particular argument already present
shortly after the verb is encountered, or does IC information only exert
its influence on the understanding of the sentence at a later point,
during sentence wrap-up? And is the type of causal information that
underlies IC biases encoded by the verb or does it have to be inferred
from world knowledge?

Recently, several interesting studies have shed new light on these
questions. Regarding the point in time at which IC information affects
processing, Koornneef and Van Berkum (2006) and Van Berkum et al. (2007)
have shown that both reading times and EEG-signals reveal a potential
influence of verb bias immediately at the pronoun subject of the
explanation-clause. Two visual world studies by Cozijn et al. (2011) and
Pyykkönen and Järvikivi (2010) suggest that a strong causality bias can
raise the expectation of a particular referent even before the pronoun
has been encountered. Even more recently, Koornneef and Mulders (2016)
conducted an eye-tracking study showing that the time point at which
IC-information is used depends on individual differences in processing
strategies, and Van Berkum et al. (2013) showed that whether or not
readers use IC-information at all during processing depends on their

With regard to the locus of IC information, Hartshorne and Snedeker
(2012) and Hartshorne, O’Donnell and Tenenbaum (2015) have shown that,
if a fine-grained semantic classification is used, the semantic class of
a verb is a remarkably strong predictor of the verb’s IC bias. Bott and
Solstad (2014) present new evidence suggesting that the semantics of
IC-verbs are underspecified, causing listeners and readers to expect
particular kinds of explanations when these verbs are encountered. De la
Fuente & Hemforth (in prep) develop this account further, showing
that focus sensitive particles (even and only) in combination with IC
neutral verbs similarly cause a preference for particular explanations
for events (see also De la Fuente, Hemforth, Colonna, & Schimke,

The aim of this workshop is to discuss whether, and if so, how these
new findings and others might be integrated into a single coherent
account of implicit causality.


Thursday 13 October

13:00–13:30 Welcome & introduction

13:30–15:00 Barbara Hemforth (Paris Diderot University) & Israel de la Fuente (Charles de Gaulle University, Lille)
The semantics of Implicit Causality: Missing explanations and more.

15:00–15:15 Coffee

15:15–16:45 Arnout Koornneef (Leiden University)

Implicit Causality revisited: Framing its usage during reading in terms
of individual di erences, proactive reading, and good-enough processing.

Friday 14 October

9:30–11:45 Oliver Bott (Tübingen University) & Torgrim Solstad (Centre for General Linguistics, Berlin)

Grounding Implicit Causality in verb semantics and the pragmatics
of explanatory discourse.


13:00–14:30 Emiel van den Hoven (Freiburg University)

Not-so-cheap tricks: Putting bounded rationality in Implicit Causality.

14:30–14:45 Coffee

14:45–15:45 Discussion