Go Figure 2013 - Understanding Figures of Speech

June 20, 2013 - June 21, 2013
Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London

United Kingdom

Main speakers:

Stephen Barker
University of Nottingham
John Barnden
University of Birmingham
Anne Bezuidenhout
University of Southern California
Emma Borg
Reading University
Mitchell S. Green
University of Virginia
Larry Horn
Yale University
Ofra Magidor
Oxford University
Stephen Neale
City University of New York
Mihaela Popa
University of Birmingham
Stephen Schiffer
New York University
Catherine Wearing
University of Wellesley
Deirdre Wilson
University College London

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Understanding figurative speech is a topic that interests philosophers, linguists, psychologists and AI-researchers alike. While interesting in and of itself its further appeal lies partly in the challenges that figurative meanings raise for standard propositional models of meaning. It raises, for example, particular problems in debates on the semantics/pragmatics distinction, and on the semantics of propositional attitudes. Today, the area has flourished. Much has been written on the question of how we understand figures of speech such as metaphor, metonymy, and irony, and whether the type of meaning involved is a matter of 'saying' or rather of 'implicating'. Research on these topics continues to be the focus of a large community of philosophers, linguists, and increasingly of AI-researchers.

This workshop aims to provide a forum for discussion on figurative speech, theories of it, and their broader implications. It will provide an opportunity to reflect, via invited talks and informal discussions, on the state of art, and to encourage new thinking about less well explored topics.  


Day 1: June 20th

9.15  Registration and Coffee

9.40   Introduction and Welcome

9.45   Mitchell Green: Learning from Metaphors

11.00  Anne Bezuidenhout: Categories and analogies

12.15  Lunch

13.00  Stephen Schiffer: Figures of Speech

14.15  Ofra Magidor: Category mistakes and figurative language

15.30  Tea

15.45  Emma Borg: Figurative meaning and the semantics/pragmatics divide

17.00  John Barnden: Metaphorical Attitudes

18.15  Reflective Summary of Day 1: Guy Longworth

18.30  Close

Day 2: June 21st

9.30   Late registration and Coffee

9.45   Larry Horn: Lie-Toe-Tease: Double negatives and unexcluded middles

11.00  Catherine Wearing: TBA

12.15  Lunch

13.00  Deirdre Wilson: Figurative Utterances and Speaker’s Meaning

14.15  Stephen Neale: Speaker’s Meaning and Figurative Utterances

15.30  Tea

15.45  Stephen Barker: The Said and the Unsaid meets Figuration

17.00  Mihaela Popa: Embedded Irony, Speech-acts, and the Said/Unsaid distinction 

18.15  Reflective summary of Day 2: Robyn Carston

18.30  Close


We are happy to announce that we can offer a small number of Analysis bursaries to for graduate students from outside London to attend Go Figure. For those interested please send a CV and a short description of your research interests to: [email protected]

We gratefully acknowledge support from: Institute of Philosophy London, Mind Association, British Society of Aesthetics, Analysis, and Leverhulme Trust.

Information about the registration can be found on the conference website at:


For any queries or questions, please contact: [email protected]

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