The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Course Announcements, Fall 2012

24.943: Syntax of a Language (Family)
Seminar on Topics in East Asian Syntax and Semantics
Jim Huang & Shigeru Miyagawa

M2:30-5:30 (32-D461)
Alternate weeks at Harvard, M3:30-6:00 (Boylston 303).
The first class (9/10) will be at MIT.

We will cover some recent topics in East Asian linguistics that have important theoretical implications.

Issues include:
– agreement/topic/focus
– NP structure
– intervention effects
– wh-questions — “why”
– ellipsis
– case alternation
– argument structure

24.964: Topics in Phonology
The phonetics and phonology of sentence prosody
Edward Flemming

W 10-1 (32-D461)

This course will provide an overview of the phonetics and phonology of sentence prosody. Topics will include:
– English prosody – intonation, prominence and phrasing, ToBI transcription
– Phonetic implementation of prosody
– Focus-marking
– Prosodic and syntactic phrasing
– Cross-linguistic variation
– Instrumental and experimental techniques – pitch tracking, resynthesis

24.965: Morphology
Adam Albright & David Pesetsky

T10–1, 32-D461

Topics in the structure of words and their components. What is the evidence for structure below the level of the word? What (if anything) distinguishes word structure from sentence structure? What principles account for the order of morphemes? How does morphological structure influence the phonological shape of complex words? Why does morphology sometimes fail to express syntactic/semantic differences (one affix, two functions), and how do multiple morphemes compete to express the same meaning? The big question underlying the course will be: is there a distinct morphological grammar, or can morphological phenomena all be understood as arising from the interaction of syntax and phonology?

24.979: Topics in Semantics
Kai von Fintel & Sabine Iatridou

F11-2, 32-D461

We will discuss current research on expressions of preference and priority, including deontic modals, imperatives, desiderative attitudes, and so on. The seminar will feature several guest speakers (Ana Arregui, Fabrizio Cariani, Cleo Condoravdi, Thony Gillies, Magda Kaufmann, Dilip Ninan, perhaps more), some of whom will be semi-regular participants as well.

24.S94: More on Questions
Danny Fox

Schedule: 3 hour meetings, twice a week (W-F-W-F-W-Th) during the weeks of September 24-October 5*
Location: 32-D461 (mostly)

In this class I will try to develop an argument for a treatment of pair-list readings of multiple wh-questions that I made in a 2010 seminar (taught with Irene and Kai). The starting point is Dayal’s proposal that questions are associated with a maximality presupposition – the requirement that one true member of the Hamblin-denotation entail all true members. As Dayal shows, maximality accounts for uniqueness in simple singular wh questions (Which boy came? is associated with the inference that exactly one boy came). Dayal’s proposal, which provides the basis for a family of accounts of negative islands and related phenomena, fails to derive the pair list readings of multiple wh-questions, such as `which boy read which book?’. I will try to argue that this problem can be resolved if multiple questions denote families of questions, derived from logical forms that obey Richards’ tucking-in generalization. The rest of the class will investigate various issues that have a potential bearing on the proposal: issues pertaining to quantificational variability in questions, to pair-list reading that arise from normal quantification (e.g. which book did every boy read?), and to the nature of superiority.