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 particularly interested in how we infer additional features of the situation, such as the speaker's knowledge state and potentially their argumentative agenda, from the utterance, and how this feeds into 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).

I'm also working with Amalia Arvaniti and colleagues on her ERC-funded project SPRINT (2019-24), looking into the role of intonation in communication. I contribute 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.