Conference goals

While language is used every day to allow communication between a speaker and an addressee, these communicative efforts are subject to false starts, glitches, derailments, and sometimes complete crashes. In that perspective, scholars who have been interested in accounting for the systems and principles that govern communicative processes have also tried to capture those situations in which communication between two individuals accidentally or intentionally goes wrong. Incidentally, one way to improve our understanding of these systems and principles consists in focusing specifically on situations or data in which communication fails; when the processes go amiss; when a mismatch occurs between the speaker’s intended message and the information retrieved by the addressee.

ComCog 2017 will bring together scholars who work on theories and descriptions of such instances of miscommunication, and scholars who use evidence from communicative misfortunes to build a theory of human communication.

ComCog 2017 seeks to attract original contributions from various areas of linguistics, psychology, argumentation theory, corpus analysis and discourse analysis that bring together the findings and insights of cognitive science and language studies to further our understanding of phenomena pertaining to communicative failures and mismatches, and using this particular type of data to advance our comprehension of human communicative processes.

This includes but is not limited to the following phenomena:

  • miscommunication in disambiguation tasks: several current research strands within the field of pragmatics and psycholinguistics have studied the processes at work in the disambiguation of reference (Arnold & Tanenhaus 2011), in determining implicit content, in working out the meaning of figurative language (metaphors (Glucksberg 2001), irony (Spotorno et al 2013)). A common denominator of this line of research has been to identify the cognitive parameters that bear on language processes affecting performance by triggering alternate derivations, disambiguation and interpretative paths.
  • miscommunication in cross-linguistic interactions: scholars working in the field of second language acquisition and bilingualism have looked at the type of cross-linguistic influence which can give rise to misconstrued utterances in a target language on the part of L2 learners (De Angelis & Dewaele 2011), or the way the semantic or conceptual profile of a bilingual’s languages interfere with each other during production and comprehension processes (Athanasopoulos & Bylund 2013). Other researchers have investigated intercultural and cross-linguistic discrepancies in specific aspects of language use (politeness, indirectness (Schneider), hedges, discourse markers (Stukker & Sanders 2012); see also Trueswell & Papafragou 2010).
  • miscommunication and argumentation/reasoning: within the domains of argumentation theory, reasoning (Mercier & Sperber 2009, 2011) and more generally cognitive communication science (Oh & Sundar 2015), recent efforts have shown how cognitive biases, as well as heuristics (Pohl 2004; Gigerenzer 2008), can be responsible for deviations from a certain norm and give rise to miscommunication, both in persuasive and manipulative settings.
  • miscommunication and pathological uses of language: scholars have also worked with atypical populations in order to advance our understanding of the cognitive underpinnings of communicative processes, for instance working with autistic patients to investigate the impact that a deficient theory of mind has on interpretative processes (Cummings 2014a, 2014b), or with Williams syndrome patients (Musolino & Landau 2012).

In line with the ComCog tradition, interdisciplinary research is welcome. Moreover, from a methodological point of view, we seek to attract work that combines theoretical proposals with empirical/experimental testing of the proposed models and hypotheses.


The Organising Committee invites submissions of abstracts (300-500 words without references; in English) presenting original work on one of the above mentioned topics and areas, but not restricted to them, addressing the broader topic of miscommunication in language(s).

Please bear in mind the following policies as you submit your abstract:

  • Submissions may be singly or jointly authored.
  • Authors should submit one abstract at most as first author.
  • Submissions must be anonymous. That is, the abstract cannot contain any information that would allow reviewers to identify the author(s).
  • All abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed by members of the Scientific Committee.
  • All abstracts must be submitted on Easychair by 30 October 2016, 23:59 (UTC + 01:00) at the following URL (available as of 20 August 2016):
  • Notification of acceptance/rejection will be sent by 20 November 2016.


  • Extended Abstract submission deadline: 30 October 2016
  • Notification of acceptance/rejection: shortly after 20 November 2016
  • Early-bird registration: 15 December 2016
  • Registration closes: 10 January 2017
  • Conference in Fribourg: 8-10 February 2017

Abstracts (300-500 words max) should be submitted by 30 October 2016 on the Easychair platform (active on 20 August 2016).