The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

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.