The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, April 12th, 2010

LFRG 4/12 - DaeYoung Sohn and Yasutada Sudo

WHAT: Work in progress
WHO: DaeYoung Sohn and Yasutada Sudo
TITLE: Scale Dependency in Comparatives and Other Degree Constructions in Korean
WHEN: April 12th, Monday, 11.30AM - 1PM
WHERE: 32-D831


Phonology Circle 4/12 - Haruka Fukazawa

This week’s Phonology Circle presentation is by Haruka Fukazawa, of Keio University.

Speaker: Haruka Fukazawa
Title: How to restrict the architecture and sub-components of the grammar
Time: Monday 4/12, 5pm
Location: 32-D831

Along with its development, the simple architecture of classic OT has shown its limitation: there are many difficult or unexplained cases. Several sub-components have been introduced to compensate for this limitation. In this talk, I am going to discuss how the architecture and sub-components of the grammar can be integrated or restricted within OT focusing particularly on Local Conjunction, Relativized Faithfulness, and OT-CC.

Upcoming talks:

  • Apr 19 (No meeting—Patriots Day Holiday)
  • Apr 26 Jae Yung Song (Brown University)
  • May 3 Igor Yanovich and Donca Steriade
  • May 10 Donca Steriade
  • May 17 Ari Goldberg (Tufts)

Access real-time updates, on-line via the web (click ‘agenda’ to see the schedule as a list), or through iCal


Syntax Square 4/13: Alya Asarina & Jeremy Hartman

Please join us for Syntax Square this week. Alya Asarina and Jeremy Hartman will discuss “Subject case and verbal morphology in Uyghur embedded clauses.”

Time: Tuesday, 4/13, 1-2PM
Place: 32D-461


Harvard GSAS Workshop - 4/13 - Daniel Kaufman

The GSAS Workshop in Language Universals and Linguistic Fieldwork presents:

Speaker: DANIEL KAUFMAN (UNFR and CUNY Graduate Center)
Title: ‘Greenberg’s 16th slayed in the Bronx? Language universals and fieldwork in New York City’
Time: Tuesday, April 13th, 5:30-7pm
Location: Boylston Hall 104

Upcoming Universals Talks

  • Hazel Pearson (Harvard University)
    April 20, 5:30-7pm; Boylston 104
    Title: “Towards a crosslinguistic typology for comparatives: Evidence from Fijian and Japanese”

  • Michael Diercks (Georgetown University)
    April 27, 5:30-7pm; location TBA
    Title: “Complementizer Agreement in Lubukusu”


LingLunch 4/15 - Aniko Csirmaz

Speaker: Aniko Csirmaz (University of Utah) Title: Degree achievements - achieving specific aspectual properties

Time: Thurs 4/1, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

Degree achievements verbs (DAs, Dowty 1979), which include ‘dry’, ‘darken’, ‘cool’ and ‘narrow’, can appear in different types of event descriptions. For some DAs, the telicity of the event description can vary: ‘the soup cooled’ can be telic or atelic, and accordingly permit modification by ‘in an hour’ and ‘for an hour’, respectively. Intuitively, ‘the soup cooled in an hour’ describes an event where at the conclusion of the event, the soup attained a specific temperature — a temperature suitable for eating, for instance. The atelic ‘the soup cooled for an hour’ describes an event where the temperature of the soup decreased somewhat, but it does not need to have reached a specific temperature. This characterization suggests that telic interpretation requires the availability of a specific adjectival value; a maximal or contextually determined endpoint of the adjectival scale. For the atelic interpretation, any change along the scale is sufficient. It is predicted that for DAs where the adjectival scale lacks an endpoint (eg. ‘widen’), only an atelic interpretation is available. Accordingly, in absence of a salient contextually defined endpoint, ‘the road widened’ can only be atelic (cf. discussions in Kennedy and Levin 2008, Kearns 2007, a.o.).

In contrast with the these observations about the correlation between telicity and the nature of adjectival scales, I argue that the scale does not necessarily determine whether a telic interpretation is available. I show that Hungarian event descriptions unambiguously determine telicity, irrespective of the closed or open nature of the adjectival scale. For a closed scale DA, some event descriptions permit only an atelic interpretation, and for open scale DAs, some event descriptions can only be telic. I propose a treatment of telicity where the endpoint of the adjectival scale and the endpoint of an event (which yields telicity) are kept distinct, and telicity amounts to lack of continuation for an event.

I also show that Hungarian event descriptions with DAs can differ in another respect: in the argument that is homomorphic to the event. The event can be homomorphic either to the adjectival scale or to the affected argument; a given event description is also unambiguous in this respect.

Finally, I address verb particles in some detail; in Hungarian, it is these particles which yield event descriptions that are unambiguous with respect to telicity and the homomorphic argument.


MIT Linguistics Colloquium 4/16 - Ash Asudeh

Speaker: Ash Asudeh (Carleton University)
Time: Friday, April 16, 2010, 3:30pm-5pm
Location: 32-141 (Stata Center)
Title: Evidence for Parallel Composition from Resumptive Pronouns

An important tenet of linguistic semantics is the principle of compositionality, which states that the meaning of a linguistic expression is determined by the meanings of its parts and their arrangement. Two approaches have arisen in compositional semantics. The rule-by-rule or categorial approach holds that syntax and semantics are constructed in parallel. The interpretive approach holds that semantics interprets the output of syntax. These traditions are often viewed as fundamentally equivalent, since the main interest in formal semantics is typically in the models. Sometimes theoretical distinctions are highlighted, as in the direct compositionality and variable-free programs. However, rarely is there an empirical issue that seems to favour one approach over the other. I will present such an empirical challenge based on resumptive pronoun data from Irish, Swedish, and Vata. The facts seem to favour the parallel approach to syntax and semantics over the interpretive approach.


von Fintel & Stalnaker in Nebraska

This week (April 16 & 17), there is a conference on epistemic modals at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. MIT speakers: Kai von Fintel (presenting with co-author Thony Gillies, Rutgers), Bob Stalnaker, and MIT philosophy alum Eric Swanson.