[Seminar] Prof. Cristiano Chesi đź—“

Event Date: Thursday, 4 July, 2024

Location: 11:00-13:00, Sala Riunioni, Pal. Venera (II piano)

Speaker: Prof. Cristiano Chesi (IUSS, Pavia)

Title: Generative linguistics in the era of very Large Language Models

Abstract:  A significant debate has emerged in response to a paper written by Steven Piantadosi (Piantadosi, 2023, lingbuzz/007180) within the (generative) linguistics community. In this talk, I will introduce three idealized perspectives—computational, theoretical, and experimental—to focus on two fundamental issues that lend partial support to Piantadosi’s critique: (a) the evidence challenging the Poverty of Stimulus (PoS) hypothesis and (b) the notion of simplicity as conceived within mainstream Minimalism. Here I will argue that, to reclaim a central role in language studies, generative linguistics—representing a prototypical theoretical perspective on language—needs a serious update leading to (i) more precise, consistent, and complete formalizations of foundational intuitions and (ii) the establishment and utilization of a standardized dataset of crucial empirical evidence to evaluate the theory’s adequacy.

Cristiano Chesi is associate Professor of Linguistics at the University School for Advanced Studies (IUSS Pavia), Director of NETS Lab, the IUSS Laboratory for Neurolinguistics, Computational Linguistics, and Theoretical Syntax, since 2021. Affiliated to CISCL (Interuniversitary Center for Cognitive Studies of Language, University of Milano Bicocca, University of Siena) since 2020. Among the research projects to which he has contributed, the following are particularly noteworthy: T-GRA2L – Testing GRAdeness and GRAmmaticality in Linguistics (2022-2025, national coordinator of the PRIN 2022 project); European project “Fala Global 2008” for Worldwide Development of Speech Technology (2011-2014, project manager at MLDC, Lisbon); “FIRB 2009”: Fundamental research on language in the service of the Italian language (national research project, post-doc at the University of Siena).

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