What's in our minds when we throw an if/then sentence out there? How do we work out what worlds we may be talking about? In this episode, we talk about the semantics of conditionals: what an "if" looks like logically, why a simple logical arrow isn't enough to capture the complexities of conditionals, and how we change what possibilities we allow ourselves to think of based on what our "if" clause holds.
Topic 94: Ellipsis
What can silence tell us about the syntax of a sentence? How do we know what meaning to fill in when words are missing? In this episode, we talk about ellipsis: what rules are at work to tell us how to use it, how sentence structure plays into what words we can leave out, and whether words are even missing at all, or just hiding.
Bonus Episode 1: The Comparative Illusion
How do some sentences trick us into thinking they're good, when really they're not? And what can that tell us about how we process language? In this episode, we take a look at the comparative illusion, a tricky kind of sentence that seems meaningful, but falls apart when we consider it further. And then we look at what exactly it is about them that confuses our minds.
Topic 93: Pronouns
How do we know who "he" is? And how does "he" differ from "himself" when we interpret it? In this episode, we talk about the syntax and semantics of pronouns: how we can place them in sentences, how they link up to variables, and the role of context in how we interpret them.
Topic 92: Event Semantics
How do events factor into our mental linguistics? How can we adjust our logic to capture different sentence permutations? In this episode, we take a look at event semantics: what problems they're meant to solve, how they help us limit time and place in our sentences, and what evidence we have that events are real.
Topic 91: Propaganda and Censorship
How do we try influencing what other people think about the world? What techniques get used for bending the truth? In this episode, we take a look at some of the linguistics around propaganda and censorship: what people can try beyond just outright lying, how using conversational rules can get you to think things that aren't said, and how we can use bias to influence people's views.