Experimental approaches to language universals in structure and meaning
(ExUni virtual Workshop at ESSLLI2021)


Welcome to the homepage for the Workshop on Experimental approaches to language universals in structure and meaning which will take part virtually at ESSLLI 2021 in August 2nd-3rd 2021.

Universal tendencies in language have long been at the forefront of linguistic research. But focus has traditionally been placed on phonology and syntax. Recently, several exciting new strands of research have highlighted the importance of universal tendencies in meaning–semantic universals–to the study of formal semantics. To-date, this work has largely used traditional sources of data such as single language case studies or typological surveys. This workshop focusses on the application of experimental methods to the study of universals in structure and meaning. In other linguistic domains, experiments have led to important advances in our ability to test specific predictions made about the link between human cognition and universal features of language. This workshop aims to bring experimental methods to the study of semantic universals by bringing together researchers using these methods to study meaning and structure.

Call for papers

This workshop aims at bringing together researchers at all levels who can contribute to discussions around interface phenomena and the application of experimental methodology to the field of semantics. We expect submissions both from researchers working on semantic universals from theoretical and typological perspectives, and from researchers adopting an experimental perspective on linguistic universals more generally.

We invite anonymised submission of abstracts through EasyChair of 2 pages (12 pt font; 1in or 2.5cm margins) — with an extra page for references or figures — on new research on the following topics:

  • semantic/syntactic universals
  • experimental approaches to linguistic universals (in general)
  • acquisition in semantics or syntax
  • learnability or evolution of semantics or syntax

Deadline submissions: 15 June 2021
Notification of acceptance: Early July 2021
Final programme: 15 July 2021


Keynote speakers
Dorothy Ahn (Rutgers)
Isabelle Dautriche (Aix-Marseille University)
Jeremy Kuhn (ENS Paris)
Wataru Uegaki (University of Edinburgh)



If you have questions or comments, please email us at syncog.edinburgh[at]gmail.com.