The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Links of the week

Strange VP ellipsis in the news (second email down the page).

Strange right node raising in the news.

Music-Language Reading Group continues

The Music-Language reading group, which meets on Fridays at 3:30 when there is no colloquium, has a website on which readings and topics for our meetings are posted.  Last Friday, we discussed grouping and meter in the context of West African drum music (Claire Halpert led the discussion) and in the context of clave patterns and related rhythmic phenomena (Jonah Katz led the discussion).  At our meeting this Friday, we will discuss aspects of the syntax of tonal harmony.

Ling-lunch 11/6 - Jeremy Hartman

Please join us for this week’s Ling-lunch:

Thursday, Nov. 6
Room 32-D461

Jeremy Hartman
“The Semantic Effects of non-A’ Traces: Evidence from Ellipsis Parallelism”

A central puzzle in the syntax/semantics interface concerns the interpretation of movement. A-bar movement has evident semantic consequences, but the status of A-movement and head-movement is less evident—with the result that some authors have called these types of movement into question, or relegated them to the phonological component of the grammar. This talk presents evidence from ellipsis parallelism that all three types of movement have effects on semantics.

Takahashi and Fox (2005) and Merchant (2008) propose that ellipsis is subject to a constraint “MaxElide” that prefers a larger elided constituent over a smaller one, within a given Parallelism Domain determined by semantic identity to an antecedent. I examine new data concerning the interactions of MaxElide with wh-adverbials, embedded clauses, and T-to-C movement. I present and account for an expanded MaxElide paradigm by arguing that all types of traces (A-traces, A-bar traces, and traces of head movement) count towards the calculation of the Parallelism Domain.

Judy Kegl at UMass Boston - 11/5

On Wednesday, November 5, Prof. Judy Kegl will give a talk at UMass Boston. The title of her talk is “Four Instincts that Lead us to Language.”

Sponsored by the Hispanic Studies Department, the Undergraduate Program in Linguistics, and the Friends of Healey Library of the University of Massachusetts Boston, the event will be from 3:30 to 5:00 at the Center for Library Instruction, Healey Library, 4th floor, UMass Boston.

The UMass Boston campus is accessible by public transportation. For directions, go to http://www.umb.edu/parking_transport/directions.html.

For disability services, please contact the Customer Service at least 48 hours in advance at 617-287-4000 or via email at customter.service@umb.edu.

For further information, you can contact Luis Alonso-Ovalle (luis.alonso-ovalle@umb.edu) or Wanda Rivera-Rivera (wanda.rivera-rivera@umb.edu).

Possible dates for SNEWS

SNEWS (”Southern New England Workshop in Semantics”) has been moved from the fall to the spring semester. The Amherst organizers would like to hold it on one of the four Saturdays of March:

March 07
March 14
March 21
March 28

If you would like to attend but have a conflict any of these days, let Giorgio (gmagri@mit.edu) know. The SNEWS website is still up at the following address:


Cable dissertation to become OUP book

Writing from his new home as an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at UMass/Amherst, Seth Cable (MIT PhD 2007) informs us that a book manuscript based on his MIT dissertation The Grammar of Q has just been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press. Seth’s dissertation developed results from his NSF-funded fieldwork on Tlingit to argue that pied-piping does not exist as an independent phenomenon, but follows from the right theory of the syntax and semantics of questions.  Congratulations, Seth!!