The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Linguistics Colloquium 11/18 - Maria Aloni

Speaker: Maria Aloni (University of Amsterdam)
Time: Friday 11/18 3:30 PM
Location: 32-141
Title: Modal inferences in marked indefinites


In this talk I will discuss two marked indefinite determiners which are normally classified as epistemic (Jayez & Tovena 2006, Alonso-Ovalle & Menendez-Benito 2010): Italian un qualche (Zamparelli 2007) and German irgendein (Haspelmath 1997, Kratzer & Shimoyama 2002). In the first part of the talk I will identify a number of functions (context-meaning pairs) for marked indefinites, and discuss the distribution of un qualche and irgendein with respect to these functions (Aloni & Port 2011). The most striking aspect of the observed distribution is the different behavior the two indefinites display under epistemic and under deontic modals. Under epistemic modals both indefinites are licensed and give rise to an ignorance inference; under deontic modals only German irgendein is licensed and gives rise to a free choice inference. In the second part of the talk I will give a formal account of these facts in the framework of a Dynamic Semantics with Conceptual Covers (Aloni 2001).