Heather Burnett

Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) Paris 7 - Denis Diderot

Heather Burnett is at the forefront of a recent trend towards the integration of insights and methods from sociolinguistics and formal semantics/pragmatics in the study of meaning, and in particular has pioneered the use of game-theoretic methods to model social meaning and its role in linguistic variation.


LLF, CNRS – UMR 7110, Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7, Case 7031 – 5, rue Thomas Mann, 75205 Paris cedex 13


Publications & Presentations


  • Beltrama, Andrea; Solt, Stephanie; Burnett, Heather  (2022) Context, precision, and social perception: A sociopragmatic study In: Language in Society [DOI] [ViVo]
    Abstract In two perception experiments we explore the social indexicality of numerical expressions, comparing the evaluation of three variants: precise (e.g. ‘forty-nine minutes’) vs. explicitly approximate (e.g. ‘about fifty minutes’) vs. underspecified (e.g. ‘fifty minutes’). We ask two questions: (i) What constellations of social meanings are associated with each of these variants? (ii) How are such indexical associations modulated by the conversational setting? We find that the choice of approximate vs. precise forms differentially impact speaker evaluation along the social dimensions of Status, Solidarity, and anti-Solidarity, with underspecified numbers showing a flexible behavior. Furthermore, these associations are to some extent affected by the conversational setting, in particular the demands on descriptive precision placed by the context and the interlocutors’ goals. These findings reveal an intimate connection between pragmatic reasoning and social perception, highlighting the importance of integrating pragmatic theory in the study of social indexicality. (Social meaning, pragmatic variation, social perception, numerals, (im)precision)*
  • Presentations

  • Burnett, Heather  (2020) Identity construction and register variation in French “écriture inclusive” In: Kolloquium SFB1412 (2020) [ViVo]