The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 20th, 2010

Phonology Circle resumes next week

There is no meeting of the Phonology Circle this week. We will resume next week, with two presentations, by Igor Yanovich and Youngah Do.

The schedule of currently spoken for dates is below. If you want to sign up for a week to talk, please let Adam know.

  • Sep 27 — Igor Yanovich/Youngah Do
  • Oct 4 — available
  • Oct 18 — Ari Goldberg
  • Oct 25 — Youngah Do
  • Nov 1 — available
  • Nov 8 — Michael Kenstowicz
  • Nov 15 — available
  • Nov 22 — available
  • Nov 29 — RUMMIT practice talks
  • Dec 6 — available

You can view the current, up-to-date version of the schedule here (click ‘agenda’ to see the schedule as a list), or subscribe via iCal here.

Syntax Square 9/21: Jeremy Hartman

Please join us for Syntax Square this week. Jeremy Hartman will discuss a paper by recent MIT visitor Gary Thoms. The abstract and paper can be found here.

Speaker: Jeremy Hartman
Title: Thoms (2010): “‘Verb floating’ and VPE: towards a movement theory of ellipsis licensing” Time: Tuesday, September 21, 1-2PM
Place: 32-D461

If you are interested in presenting your work in Sytnax Square this semester, please email Claire Halpert (halpert@mit.edu) or Natasha Ivlieva (ivlieva@mit.edu).

LFRG 9/22: Frank Sode on the German present subjunctive

WHO: Frank Sode (ZAS)
WHAT: The German present subjunctive and the expression of the speaker’s attitude
WHEN: September 22, 1:30PM-3:00PM
WHERE: 32-D831

WHAT EXACTLY: see the abstract

Colloquium 9/24 - Hubert Truckenbrodt

Colloquium 9/24 - Hubert Truckenbrodt

Date: Friday, September 24, 2010
Time: 3:30-5:00PM
Place: 32-141
Speaker: Hubert Truckenbrodt (ZAS Berlin)
Title: Wh is F: prosody and semantics


Why do many languages show a natural class of focused phrases and wh-phrases, by way of movement to the same position or by marking of both by focus markers? In focus (Rooth 1992), a scope operator ~C induces the calculation of contextually relevant alternatives. The focus feature F marks the positions in which the alternatives vary. In questions, the scope operator Q induces the calculation of the question’s meaning as a set of answers. The feature wh marks the position in which the answers vary. I argue, extending suggestions of Beck 2006, that the feature Wh in questions is really the feature F. Its contribution in questions is thus not related to information structure, but part of the meaning of the interrogative. In the prosodic part of the talk, I argue with Japanese questions, English and German echo questions and multiple questions that this F in questions is really the stress-attracting feature F that we know from its use in information structure. However, the new extended use of F will also bring into view a systematic exception of its stress-attracting behavior, namely the presence of a checking-relation of a wh-word with the Q-marker. I suggest that ‘visibility’ of F within its scope (~C or Q) may either be satisfied by F carrying the strongest stress in its scope-domain, or by a checking-relation between F and the scope-marker.

MIT students talking in Stuttgart

There will be two MIT talks at the “peculiar binding configurations” workshop taking place in Stuttgart this week:

  • Natasha Ivlieva: Exceptional binding in Russian

  • Pritty Patel: Pronouns, reflexives, and why Kutchi Gujarati binds like Modern Greek

Pritty Patel to speak at semantics colloquium in Frankfurt (9/23)

This week Pritty Patel will give an invited talk at the semantics colloquium at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität in Frankfurt am Main. She will present her recent work (on 9/23), on the presence and absence of Condition A in Greek and Kutchi Gujarati.