Floris Roelofsen

Associate Professor · Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation · University of Amsterdam

How do people communicate? How do they decode the meaning of complex linguistic expressions? This question has been approached from many different angles in several scientific disciplines, ranging from linguistics and philosophy to logic and cognitive science. And these theoretical investigations have led to many practical applications in computer science and education.

At the heart of this enterprise is a simple notion of meaning as truth-conditional content: you know what a sentence means if you can tell when it's true and when it's false. This conception of meaning, however, has a fundamental limitation: while suitable for statements, it does not straightforwardly apply to other sentence types, like questions. After all, it does not make sense to say of a question that it is true or false.

The main aim of my work over the last ten years has been to overcome this limitation. Together with several colleagues, I have developed a semantic framework called inquisitive semantics, which is based on a more general notion of meaning and opens up new horizons for all disciplines concerned with linguistic interpretation. We are currently exploring these horizons in linguistics, logic, and philosophy, and are also looking toward applications in computer science.

My work is currently supported by a VIDI grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (2015-2020) and a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (2016-2021).

Short Bio

Main appointments

2015-now Associate Professor. ILLC, Amsterdam
2013-2015 Assistant Professor. ILLC, Amsterdam
2010-2013 Postdoc. ILLC, Amsterdam
2009-2010 Vis. Assistant Professor, UMass Amherst
2008-2009 Postdoc. ILLC, Amsterdam

Visiting appointments

2015 (1 mth) CSLI, Stanford.
2012 (3 mth) Linguistics, UC Santa Cruz
2011 (3 mth) Linguistics, UC Santa Cruz
2006 (6 mth) Computer Science, Harvard

Main grants

2016 ERC Starting Grant (1400k euro)
2015 NWO VIDI Grant (800k euro)
2012 NWO VENI Grant (250k euro)


1 monograph
> 20 top-tier journal articles
> 25 top-tier conference articles
> 2300 citations (see Google Scholar)


> 15 courses at ILLC Amsterdam
2 courses at UMass Amherst Linguistics
1 course at Harvard Computer Science
5 courses at international summer schools
3 mini-courses (San Diego, Göttingen, Beijing)


3 Postdocs
5 PhD students
> 10 Master students

Editorial work

Associate Editor, Journal of Semantics
2 special issues (Synthese & Topoi)
5 conference proceedings and 1 festschrift
Frequent reviewing for journals and conferences


2018-2019 NWO VIDI selection panel
Organized 5 international conferences
Organized 8 international workshops
Built the inquisitive semantics website


Below is a publication list generated by bibbase.org . Thanks to Emmanuel Chemla and Thom van Gessel for help with the script.

Collaborators and students


Maria Aloni, Amsterdam
Lucas Champollion, New York University
Ivano Ciardelli, LMU Munich
Liz Coppock, Boston University
Alexandre Cremers, Amsterdam
Jakub Dotlacil, Amsterdam
Donka Farkas, UC Santa Cruz
Thom van Gessel, Amsterdam
Jeroen Groenendijk, Amsterdam
Kees Hengeveld, Amsterdam
Morwenna Hoeks, UC Santa Cruz
Sabine Iatridou, MIT
Sunwoo Jeong, Princeton
Nadine Theiler, Amsterdam
Wataru Uegaki, Edinburgh

Past collaborators

Adrian Brasoveanu, UC Santa Cruz
Sam van Gool, Amsterdam
Barbara Grosz, Harvard
Rebecca Nesson, Harvard
Kathryn Pruitt, Arizona State University
Luciano Serafini, Trento
Galit Weidman Sassoon, Tel Aviv


Alexandre Cremers (2016-2019)
Jakub Dotlacil (2016-2019)
Ivano Ciardelli (2016), now Assistant Professor in Munich

PhD students

Nadine Theiler (2015-2019)
Thom van Gessel (2016-2020)
Gianluca Grilletti (2016-2020)
Ivano Ciardelli (2012-2016), now Assistant Professor in Munich
Matthijs Westera (2010-2017), now Postdoc in Barcelona

Master students

Morwenna Hoeks (2018), now PhD in Santa Cruz
Jonathan Pesetsky (2018), now PhD in Amherst
Hana Möller Kalpak (2018), now PhD in Stockholm
Thom van Gessel (2016), now PhD in Amsterdam
Benjamin Sparkes (2015), now PhD at Stanford
Nadine Theiler (2014), next: PhD in Amsterdam
Michele Herbstritt (2014), next: PhD in Tübingen
Pawel Lojko (2012), next: Actuary in Edinburgh
Noortje Venhuizen (2012), next: PhD in Groningen
Ivano Ciardelli (2009), next: PhD in Amsterdam
Sam van Gool (2009), next: PhD in Nijmegen


Recent book and manuscripts

Inquisitive semantics
Ivano Ciardelli, Jeroen Groenendijk, and Floris Roelofsen. Oxford University Press, 2018.
download pdf get hardcopy

Polarity particles revisited
With Donka Farkas, April 2019.

Ignorance implicatures of modified numerals
With Alexandre Cremers, Liz Coppock, and Jakub Dotlacil, March 2019.

Distributive ignorance inferences with wonder and believe
With Alexandre Cremers and Wataru Uegaki, September 2018. To appear in Semantics and Pragmatics.

Upcoming events

Inquisitiveness Below and Beyond the Sentence Boundary
International workshop on inquisitive semantics and related topics, Amsterdam, June 26-27, 2019

The Amsterdam Colloquium
International conference on natural language semantics, Amsterdam, December 18-20, 2019

Recent presentations

NPIs in questions
Linguistics Colloquium at New York University, November 2, 2018.
Earlier versions presented in Santa Cruz, Munich, and Amsterdam.

Dynamic inquisitive semantics
Presented at Sinn und Bedeutung in Barcelona, September 7, 2018.

Mini-course on the semantics of questions
At the Crete Linguistics Summer School, July 16-20, 2018.

Marbles, happiness and surprise
Presented at a Workshop in honor of Barbara Partee in Amsterdam, January 8, 2018.

An inquisitive perspective on hyperintensionality
Presented at the Inquisitive Semantics Seminar in Amsterdam, December 8, 2017.

Inquisitive semantics with live possibilities
Presented at the InqBnB workshop in Broek in Waterland, June 26, 2017. See also these notes for some further developments.