The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, April 21st, 2008

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)


Ezra to Michigan

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


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.