Carnegie Mellon University

Mandy Simons

Mandy Simons


  • Baker Hall 155E
  • 412-268-5083


Mandy Simons joined the philosophy department in 1998. She came to CMU from Cornell University, where she received her Ph.D. from the department of Linguistics. She also holds an adjunct faculty position in the Linguistics department at the University of Pittsburgh.

Professor Simons's research addresses issues in the interpretation of natural language. Her work covers topics in formal semantics, pragmatics and the philosophy of language.


I am broadly interested in the question of how meaning is conveyed through language use. My research combines work in formal semantics, pragmatics, and the philosophy of language, with a focus on extra-linguistic aspects of interpretation. My primary interests at this time are in presupposition and in the overall architecture of the interpretation process.


Please note that the papers posted here are under copyright with the publishers. The PDFs are intended for personal academic use only.

Natural Conventions and Indirect Speech Acts
[With Kevin Zollman] Philosophers' Imprint 2019, Volume 19 number 9, pp.1-26 [link]

Convention, Intention and the Conversational Record: A reply to Lepore and Stone 2015
Preprint version. Paper to appear in Beyond Semantics and Pragmatics (working title), edited by G. Preyer. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [pdf]

A Closer Look at Strengthened Readings of Scalars [With Tessa Warren]
Paper [docx]
Stimuli [docx]

Questions Under Discussion: Where Information Structure meets Projective Content. Annual Review of Linguistics 2017, Volume 3, pp.265-284 [With David Beaver, Craige Roberts and Judith Tonhauser] [link]

The Best Question: Explaining the projection behavior of factive verbs. Discourse Processes, Revision as of June 2015. [With Craige Roberts, Judith Tonhauser and David Beaver] [pdf]

Local Pragmatics and Structured Contents. Philosophical Studies. Published online May 1, 2013. DOI 10.1007/s11098-013-0138-2 [pdf]

Towards a Taxonomy of Projective Content. Language 89(1), 66-109. [with Judith Tonhauser, David Beaver and Craige Roberts], March 2013 [link]

Dynamic Pragmatics, or, Why we shouldn’t be afraid of embedded implicatures. In Ashton, N., A. Chereches and D. Lutz, (eds.), Semantics and Linguistic Theory 21, 2011, 609-633. [link]

What Projects and Why. In Li, Nan and D. Lutz (eds.), Semantics and Linguistic Theory 20, 2010, 309-327. [With Judith Tonhauser, David Beaver and Craige Roberts] [link]

Presupposition, Conventional Implicature, and Beyond: A unified account of projection (with Craige Roberts, David Beaver and Judith Tonhauser). in Nathan Klinedist and Daniel Rothschild (eds), Proceedings of Workshop on New Directions in the Theory of Presupposition, ESSLI 2009. [Word document]

Presupposing. To appear in revised form in Marina Sbisa & Ken Turner (eds.), Speech Actions. [pdf]

Conversational Implicature. in Claudia Maienborn, Klaus von Heusinger & Paul Portner (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, 2012. [Word document]

In Klaus Petrus (ed.), Meaning and Analysis: New Essays on H. Paul Grice, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 138-169. [pdf]

Foundational Issues in Presupposition. Philosophy Compass 1 (4), 357-372, 2006. [pdf]

Observations on embedding verbs, evidentiality, and presupposition. Lingua 117(6), 1034-1056, 2007. [pdf]

Semantics and Pragmatics in the Interpretation of or. SALT 15 [Abstract] [pdf]

Dividing things up: the semantics of or and the modal/or interaction. Natural Language Semantics 13: 271-316, 2005.
[Abstract] [pdf]

Presupposition and Relevance. In Semantics vs. Pragmatics, ed. Zoltan Gendler Szabo, Oxford University Press, 2004. [Abstract] [pdf]

Presupposition and Accommodation: Understanding the Stalnakerian picture. Philosophical Studies 112: 251-278, 2003. [Abstract] [pdf]

"On the Conversational Basis of Some Presuppositions". Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 11, 2001. [pdf]

"Disjunction and Alternativeness". Linguistics and Philosophy Volume 24(5), 2001. [pdf]

Issues in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Disjunction. NY: Garland Publishing, 2000.

"On the felicity conditions of disjunctive sentences" Proceedings of the Western Conference on Linguistics (WECOL), 1999.

"Pronouns and Definite Descriptions." The Journal of Philosophy. Vol. XCIII, Number 8: 408-420, 1996.

"Disjunction and Anaphora" Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 6: 245-260, 1996.

"The binyan hitpa'el decomposed" Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Conference of the Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics: 143-167, 1995.

Recent Talks

How Questions and Answers Cohere. Workshop on Philosophical Linguistics and Linguistical Philosophy (PhLiP 2014), September 2014. [handout] [full paper]


"On the non-independence of triggering and projection." April 2013. [pdf]

Presupposition and Cooperation
In this paper, I propose a novel view of presuppositions as those propositions which an interpreter must take the speaker to accept in order to take the speaker to be fully cooperative, in the Gricean sense. [pdf]

Presupposition without Common Ground.
In this paper, I review a number of arguments in favor of treating many of the central cases of presupposition as the result of conversational inference, rather than as lexically specified properties of particular expressions. I then argue that, despite the standard assumption to the contrary, the view of presupposition as constraints on the common ground is not consistent with the provision of a conversational account of particular presuppositional constraints. The argument revolves crucially around the workings of accommodation. I then offer an alternative view of the phenomenon of presupposition, which is compatible with a variety of sources for presuppositions. On the view offered here, presupposition is seen as a property of utterances. I argue that the presuppositions of an utterance are those propositions which an interpreter must take the speaker to accept in order to take the speaker to be fully cooperative, in the Gricean sense. [pdf]


I teach a variety of courses in formal linguistics and philosophy of language. Here are brief descriptions of those which I teach on a regular basis.

Nature of Language (80-180)
An introduction to the systematic study of human language, spanning issues in the philosophy of language and contemporary linguistics.

Linguistic Analysis (80-280)
A hands-on course teaching analysis of natural language. This course is a requirement for the Linguistics Minor.

Philosophy of Language (80-380/680)
A reading course which provides a survey of modern approaches to central topics in the Philosophy of Language.

Formal Semantics (80-481/781)
A high level introduction to the practice of Natural Language Semantics in a formal framework.