Event Role Biases in Language and Cognition: Workshop at JCoLE 2022


Understanding and interacting with the perceptual world requires the ability to process events (i.e. who does what to whom in an action). The last few years have seen a substantial increase in the research on how events are attended to, both in humans and across other animal species. In parallel, there is a growing body of literature concerned with the processing mechanisms as well as typological trends related to semantic roles in language. Our workshop aims to bring these lines of research together to obtain new insights into the cognitive roots of event roles in language. In doing so, it tackles the following questions: what are the evolutionary underpinnings of distinguishing agents and patients in language, and to what extent does semantic role attribution emerge in the absence of language? How do these cognitive mechanisms shape language structure and processing? To what extent are semantic role categories grounded in cognition or dependent on language-specific features? Our workshop will feature contributions spanning several disciplines, including cognitive science, developmental science, comparative social cognition and language processing.

The workshop is part of theJoint Conference of Language Evolution and will take place online on September 5th, 13:30-15:30 Japan time, 06:30-08:30 Zurich time.



The workshop will feature the following talks:

  • Alon Hafri, on role-filler independence in automatic visual processing
  • Denis Tatone, on interpretive asymmetries in the encoding of events
  • Ebru Ger, on the interface between causal language and causal event construal in young children
  • Lilia Rissman, on the conceptual structure of semantic roles
  • Vanessa Wilson and Sarah Brocard, on implicit and explicit event processing in great apes
  • Sebastian Sauppe and Arrate Isasi-Isasmendi, on semantic roles in incremental sentence processing 



13:30 Introduction  
13:35 Vanessa Wilson   Evolutionary origins of semantic role attribution
13:50     Alon Hafri Role-filler independence in automatic visual processing
14:10 Lilia Rissman                            Shared semantics, divergent syntax: representations of agency across languages
14:30 Denis Tatone Asymmetries in event construction. The case of giving and taking. 
14:50 Ebru Ger A crosslinguistic investigation on the interface between causal language and causal event construal in young children
15:10 Arrate Isasi-Isasmendi Agent preference in incremental sentence processing
15:25 Closing remarks   


Detailed Program


Further information, as well as the abstracts, can be found here (PDF, 72 KB).




Feel free to contact us if you have questions or if you would like to get more information: 

Arrate Isasi-Isasmendi (arrate.isasi-isasmendilandaluze@uzh.ch)

Vanessa Wilson (vanessa.wilson@unine.ch