Penka Stateva

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2018/2019
discipline Linguistics
Associate Professor Linguistics, University of Nova Gorica

Research project

Re-thinking Natural Language Quantifiers: A Novel View Integrating Formal Semantics, Pragmatics and Psychometrics


In the proposed study, I will lay out a new theory about the way we perceive, understand and use vague quantificational expressions like some, many or most in everyday communication. The study explores formal semantic, pragmatic and psychometric properties of quantifiers, emphasizing their cross-linguistic dimension. The primary goal of this project is a) to integrate the numerical component in the linguistic definition of a (vague) quantifier in a descriptively and explanatory adequate manner; b) to lay out the basics of an integrative account that effectively accommodates their semantic, pragmatic and psychometric aspects.


To achieve this goal I address the following (non-exhaustive list of) questions: What are the numerical ranges assigned to different degree-based quantifiers? Are numerical ranges encoded in meanings or are they epiphenomenal? Are cross-linguistically related quantifiers processed identically? Can we maintain a universal theory of quantifiers of the kind that has been mainstream so far?  Which pragmatic processes are relevant for the interpretation of quantifiers? How are quantifiers with overlapping lexical meanings be distinguished? 


In pursuing these questions, I will systematize the results of my previous research on this topic and conduct additional empirical studies to complete a coherent picture of natural language quantification incorporating formal semantic, formal pragmatic as well as psychometric aspects. The research brings together formal semantics, formal and experimental pragmatics and cognitive psychology, to yield a converging account of one of the most important domains of human language.




Penka Stateva is Associate Professor in Linguistics in the Center for Cognitive Science of Language at the University of Nova Gorica. She holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Connecticut.


Penka Stateva main research areas are formal semantics and pragmatics, experimental pragmatics, multilingualism, and syntax- semantics interface. Her major research foci are quantification, numerosity and plurality in natural language (focus on English and cross-linguistic variation), vagueness and comparison, implicatures and presuppositions in compositional semantics (including from the perspective of bilingualism), constraints on movement and repercussions on interpretation.

Selected publications


'Countability, Agreement and the Loss of the Dual in Russian', with A. Stepanov, Journal of Linguistics [online journal], vol. 55, 2018, doi: org/10.1017/S0022226718000130.


'Pragmatic Abilities in Bilinguals: the Case of Scalar Implicatures', with L. Dupuy et al., Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism [online], 2018, doi: org/10.1075/lab.17017.dup.


'Two "Many"-words in Slovenian: Experimental Evidence for Pragmatic Strengthening', with A. Stepanov, Acta linguistica academica : an international journal of linguistics, vol. 64, no. 3, 2017, pp. 435-473.


'Agreement Errors and Structural Distance: A Corpus Study in Bulgarian', with A. Stepanov, Zeitschrift für Slawistik, vol. 61, no. 3, 2016, pp. 448-462.


'When QR Disobeys Superiority', with A. Stepanov, Linguistic inquiry, vol. 40, no. 1, 2009, pp. 176-185.



junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Linguistics
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Cultural Studies
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Environmental Studies
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Collegium de Lyon
discipline Philosophy