The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, April 21st, 2008

Ezra to Michigan  

Ezra Keshet has accepted a one-year visiting professorship in semantics at the University of Michigan. Congratulations, Ezra!


Dave Barner to speak in BCS: 4/22 4:30pm  

This Tuesday, Dave Barner will give a talk in BCS:

Title: “Finding one’s meaning”.
When: Tuesday 4/22, at 4:30p.
Where: Room 46-5056 (fifth floor seminar room)

I’ll talk about how children distinguish integers and quantifiers in early development, discovering sets as a hypothesis space, and the origin of exactness. I may also touch on some cross-linguistic data from Japanese integer and quantifier acquisition.


Arnim von Stechow in Syntax-Semantics Reading Group on Friday  

Arnim von Stechow will give a talk in the Syntax-Semantics Reading Group entitled “Tense and Presupposition in Conditionals.” The group will meet on Friday 4/25, 3.30PM in Room 32-141 (this is the usual colloquium time/place). Further information about the remaining meetings can be found on the group’s website.


LingLunch: Dong-Whee Yang  

Come join us for this week’s Ling-lunch talk, to be presented by:

Dong-Whee Yang
Seoul National University
“Phase-internal Scrambling and Edge Feature Movement.”

WHEN: April 24, 12:30-1:45
WHERE: 32-D461

In this paper the notion of EF (edge feature) movement (Chomsky 2005) is characterized as pure internal merge, which is optional, hence induces D(=discourse) effects according to (1), leading to the chain condition of EF-movement (2):

  1. Optional operations can apply only if they have an effect on outcome (Chomsky 2001).
  2. Each chain of EF-movement contains one D-effect (Yang 2008).
Given this characterization of EF-movement, it is shown that not only phasal scramblings but also phase-internal ones are EF-movements, offering a unified account of long-distance and very short clause-internal scramblings. Furthermore, given that Agree and EF-movement are separable for an Agree-movement, i.e., need not occur together, it is shown why an optional Agree-movement may function as an EF-movement inducing D-effects, along with Agree in situ, like OS and Subject Raising in languages like Icelandic, Korean, etc. Thus, it is captured that all and only optional movements induce D-effects. This paper also offers an explanation for why EF-movements are not subject to the minimality-type constraints though subject to island-type constraints. Note that EF-movements are only subject to the architectural conditions of the minimalist theory, and I claim that island-type constraints are essentially those against violating the architectural conditions of the grammar like the PIC unlike the minimality-type constraints. This paper also shows how the EF-movement theory of (2) offers optimal accounts for problems like successive cyclic A?-movements (Boškovi? 2007, Preminger 2007, Heck and Müller. 2000) and the criterial freezing (Rizzi, 2004). This paper also suggests constraints on movements based on the chain condition of EF-movement (2), accounting for why idiom chunks may not optimally undergo EF-movement though corresponding non-idiom chunks may. Lastly, this paper claims that reconstruction and covert movement are the two sides of the same coin in the minimalist theory, offering a new analysis of the two phenomena, given the characterization of EF-movement in this paper.


Boškovi?, Željko. 2007. On the locality and motivation of move and agree: an even more minimal theory. Linguistic Inquiry 38:589-644.
Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Derivation by phase. In Ken Hale: A Life in Language, ed. by M. Kenstowicz. 1-52. The MIT Press.
Chomsky, Noam. 2005. On phases. Ms., MIT.
Heck, Fabian and Gereon Müller. 2000. Successive cyclicity, long-distance superiority, and local optimization. WCCFL 19:218-231.
Preminger, Omer. 2007. Toxic syntax: yet another theory of syntactic movement. Ms., MIT.
Rizz, Luigi. 2004. On the form of chains: criterial positions and ECP effects. Ms.
Yang, Dong-Whee. 2008. On edge feature movement. Ms., MIT. (downloadable)


No Phonology Circle this week  

Phonology Circle will not meet this week, due to the Patriot’s Day holiday. It will return next week, with a talk by Chiyuki Ito.


“The Linguists” to screen at MIT: Thurs Apr 24  

The Linguists” will be screening this Thursday (April 24) from 7:00p–8:30pm in 26-100. The film will be followed by a discussion with David Harrison.

For more information, see the MIT Events Calendar website. This event is co-sponsored by the Societo por Esperanto, MIT, LSC, Amnesty International, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, GSC Funding Board, and the MIT Linguistics Society.