Aarhus Universitets segl

Reflections on grammatical illusions

Guest lecture by Julie Franck, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Onsdag 31. maj 2023,  kl. 13:15 - 14:30


Jens Chr. Skous vej 4, bygn. 1481 lokale 324


Ken Ramshøj Christensen and Anne Mette Nyvad

Illusions consist in a mismatch between reality and its mental representation (percept). What is this mismatch in the case of ‘grammatical illusions’? In contrast to perceptual illusions, for which we can use objective tools to evaluate the physical properties underlying our percept, grammar does not exist independently of our minds. Hence, are grammatical illusions illusions? I will suggest that the ‘sense of illusion’ lies in the mismatch between two mental representations: a ‘transient’ representation (generated on-line) and an ‘entrenched’ one (binary grammar rules). I will explore evidence questioning this separation, highlighting a lack of coherence in the way our community (including myself) conceptualizes two structures presumed to be ungrammatical: agreement errors and weak islands. I will end by sketching a possible view of grammar in which the transient and entrenched representations are one, and grammatical illusions are the reality of the inner workings of our mental grammar.


Participation is open to everybody.

The event is financed by SCC’s research programme for Language, Linguistics, and Cognition in coorporation with the Sapere Aude research project At the Edge of Language - An Investigation into the Limits of Human Grammar