The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Syntax Square 10/4 - Coppe van Urk

Please join us for Syntax Square on Tuesday. Coppe will be discussing some data from Sorani Kurdish and dialects of Neo-Aramaic to do with split ergativity and PCC effects.

Speaker: Coppe van Urk
Title: Split Ergativity in dialects of Kurdish and Neo-Aramaic
Date & Time: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461


Ling-Lunch 10/6 - Ivan Sag

Speaker: Ivan Sag (Stanford)
Title: Sex, Lies, and the English Auxiliary System
Location: 32-D461
Time: Thursday, Oct 6, 12:30-1:45p

Ever since the grammar of the English auxiliary system presented in LSLT/Syntactic Structures, it has been widely believed that movement operations must be part of grammatical theory. Moreover, it is generally accepted within Minimalism and related fields informed by it that human biology determines that movement rules are ‘structure dependent’. I will show why both of these claims are false. In addition, the construction-based analysis of the auxiliary system that I will present treats generalizations and exceptions that have never been properly analyzed (or else have not been analyzed at all) in transformational terms.


LFRG 10/7 - Rick Nouwen

WHO: Rick Nouwen
WHAT: The projection of appositives
WHEN: Friday 7 October, 1:00PM-2:30PM
WHERE: 32-D831

Nominal appositives (NAs) have non-trivial projection behaviour. For instance, Wang et al. 2005 observed that while NAs are normally interpreted with widest scope, the nominal appositive in (1) restricts the if-clause. This reading is unavailable with an appositive relative in that same position.

(1) If a professor, a famous one, writes a book, he will earn a lot of money.

I discuss a potential approach to the projection behaviour of NAs that on a syntactic and semantic level is identical to Schlenker’s 2010 proposal for non-restrictive relative clauses, but which differs with respect to pragmatic conditions. In a nutshell, what accounts for the complex projection behaviour is that nominal appositives have flexible syntactic attachment, are interpreted as conjuncts with an e-type subject pronoun and prefer wide-scope interpretations.


Linguistics Colloquium 10/7 - Ivan Sag

SPEAKER: Ivan Sag — Stanford University
TIME: 3:30 PM, Friday 10/07
LOCATION: 32-141
TITLE: Sluicing without Ellipsis


This talk examines various arguments that have been made by Merchant (2001, 2004, 2008, to appear) against the direct-interpretation theory of Sluicing and Bare Argument Ellipsis put forth by Ginzburg and Sag (2000) [GSOO] (see also Culicover and Jackendoff, 2005). With more careful examination of GS00’s proposal, however, specifically in relation to the role of salient utterance (SAL-UTT) and the maximal question under discussion (MAX-QUD) supplied by context, the arguments made against the direct-interpretation approach are seen to lose their force. We also examine data from a number of languages which are problematic for any deletion-based analysis of Sluicing, showing how the direct-interpretation approach avoids these difficulties. Finally, we show how GS00’s analysis interacts with Ginzburg’s (in press) theory of dialogue to provide an account of `sprouting’ that answers the arguments against GS00 offered in Chung, Ladusaw, and McCloskey, to appear.