Uli Sauerland

What was the broad question that you most wanted to get an answer to during your time in the program?

One of my main questions was to determine the mechanisms of memory storage and access for referents. The restriction to “memory for referents” is to exclude memory for syntactic relations such a subject-verb agreement, while including pronouns and traces as core cases, but also possibly other cases where only language-external content is remembered. (I’ve put aside non-linguistic questions though those were really foremost on my mind at the time and I’m also applying some hindsight to formulate the question more clearly.)

What is the current status of this question? Has it been answered? Did it turn out to be an ill-conceived question? If it’s a meaningful question as yet unanswered, please tell us what you think the path to an answer might be, or what obstacles make it a hard question.

Concern with the question obviously predates my days in linguistics, and a number of pretty good answers are around. The dominant answer is a model is based on the notion of a position in an assignment sequence as in Frege-Tarski type logic. This is however a very powerful system and the question is whether all that power is really necessary. As far as I know there are no good arguments that all the power is needed, though at times I thought differently. Work on the question has mostly been abandoned since semanticists are usually not concerned about theories that have more power than strictly necessary.