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Alex Lorson

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Research interests

My research focuses on experimentally investigating strategical communication. For the `Making Numbers Meaningful’ project, I am excited to be looking at how speakers’ choices of conveying numerical information (e.g., the risk of losing luggage on a flight) changes depending on the communicative goals they pursue (e.g., being maximally informative versus persuading their interlocutors to purchase a travel insurance).

My PhD project University of Edinburgh) focused on ways in which speakers use meaning relations – such as presupposing – as strategic tools and how these meaning relations can serve hearers as pragmatic cues to infer the speakers’ meaning, especially when they have to consider a potentially deceptive speaker. More specifically, I looked at how speakers structure their utterances — given that they can choose to either presuppose or assert information — and how their choice influences what content bits are picked up in the subsequent dialogue. Similarly, I investigated how hearers infer whether a speaker presupposes information or not and what factors play a role in this inference process.

Biography

I finished my BA at the University of Mannheim with a focus on Corpus Linguistics. In my Bachelor Thesis (supervised by Prof Dr Ludwig Eichinger), I investigated the change in meaning of `epic’ and `episch’ in German, in comparison and across different corpora (books, newspapers, twitter, online blogs) and over time. The thesis was written at the Leibniz-Institute for German Language (IDS) where I was working as a research assistant (department of Pragmatics). During my Bachelor studies, I spent a semester at the Charles-University Prague where I deepened my knowledge in linguistic theory and grammar formalism (focusing on HPSG) and the philosophy and psychology of consciousness.

In 2015, I started my Master of Science at the University of Potsdam where I specialised in psycholinguistics and experimental approaches to study language processing research. During my time in Potsdam, I spent one semester at the University of Lund where I took courses on ERP Research Methods and Neurolinguistics. Additionally, I worked as a research assistant at the Vasishth lab in Potsdam, conducting eye tracking, self-paced reading and EEG experiments; and as a teaching assistant for the Department of Psycholinguistics teaching courses on Eyetracking and Language Processing. For my Master thesis project, I focused on experimental pragmatics using online experiments, super- vised by Titus von der Malsburg and Malte Zimmermann. More concretely, I investigated ways in which listeners’ prior beliefs in form of gender stereotypes influence their understanding of the pre-state presupposition triggered by `stop’.

Having been awarded a University of Edinburgh CHSS/PPLS research award and an AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership, I started my PhD in Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh in 2018, supervised by Chris Cummins and Hannah Rohde. For my PhD project, I investigated ways in which speakers use meaning relations – such as presupposing – as strategic tools, and how these meaning relations can serve hearers as pragmatic cues to infer the speakers’ meaning, especially when they have to consider a potentially deceptive speaker.

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