Chris Cummins


PPLS, University of Edinburgh

Research projects

My research is mostly in experimental semantics and pragmatics, focusing on why speakers choose to use particular linguistic forms, and how hearers interpret this.

My PhD, supervised by Napoleon Katsos, was about the meaning and use of numerically-quantified expressions (and was supported by a University of Cambridge Domestic Research Studentship).

In my ongoing work, I'm continuing to explore how we communicate about quantity, as well as how we make decisions based on our understanding of what a speaker has told us, for instance in high-stakes domains such as financial and medical interactions. I'm currently working with Zoe Schlueter and Antonella Sorace on a Leverhulme Trust-funded project on reasoning in bilinguals, which aims to show whether pragmatic considerations are partly responsible for the differences between first- and second-language decision-making.

I'm also interested in what linguistic approaches can contribute to medical communication, and am part of an emerging cross-disciplinary team working on this (including Gareth Clegg, Hannah Rohde, Holly Branigan and Ernisa Marzuki). This work has received some initial funding from the Edinburgh Futures Institute.

In a separate line of work, I will be working with Amalia Arvaniti and colleagues on her ERC-funded project SPRINT (2019-24), looking into the role of intonation in communication. I'll be contributing to the pragmatic analysis of the production data and to behavioural and neurolinguistic experimental design.

My other research interests include speech act recognition, and the production and comprehension of other forms of non-asserted content.