The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

24.979 Topics in Syntax & Semantics: “Without glue, what do we do?”

24.979 Topics in Syntax & Semantics
von Fintel, Iatridou
MW 1:30-3

“Without glue, what do we do?”

The theme of our seminar is the question of how meanings are put together when there seems to be a lack of explicit marking of how things fit together. One famous example (seminally studied by Stump) is the variety of meanings a free adjunct can take on:

(1) Having long arms, John can reach the ceiling.
(2) Standing on a chair, John can reach the ceiling.

We will talk about the syntax & semantics of such adjuncts, of parentheticals, of free relatives, of appositive relatives, of conjunction, of concessives, of conditionals, and of paratactic coordinations. The reading list will evolve over the course of the semester, since this is a topic that is mostly new to us. We will be learning with you as we go along.

In a departure from our usual seminar format, we are meeting twice a week in more bite-sized chunks of time. To make this format be productive, preparatory reading will be even more important than usual.

Apart from keeping up with the reading and participating vigorously in the seminar discussions, which is an expectation for all seminar participants, registered students will write a term paper that is at least tangentially related to the topic(s) of the seminar. Early consultation about the term papers is advised.

For the first meeting on Wednesday September 9 at 1:30pm in Room 66-160, the preparatory reading is a (not completely randomly chosen) article on the meaning of conjunction:

Txurruka, Isabel Gómez. 2003. The natural language conjunction and. Linguistics and Philosophy 26(3). 255–285. doi:10.1023/A:1024117423963.

Everybody who intends to attend the seminar should read this article beforehand and think of questions and comments about it for the seminar discussion.