The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Syntax Practice Talk 10/9 - Ted Levin  

Speaker: Ted Levin
Title: Korean Nominative Case-Stacking: A configurational account
Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct 9, 1:00p
Location: 32-D461

This is a practice talk for the 22nd Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference. Full abstract is available here (PDF).


Ling-Lunch 10/11 - Maziar Toosarvandani and Coppe van Urk  

Speakers: Maziar Toosarvandani and Coppe van Urk
Title: On the directionality and nature of nominal concord: Ezafe concord in Zazaki
Date/Time: Thursday, Oct 11, 12:30-1:45p
Location: 32D-461

This talk investigates a pattern of nominal concord on the Zazaki ezafe marker, a morpheme that accompanies nominal dependents in many Iranian languages. We show that concord on Zazaki ezafe is sensitive both to the properties of the head noun and to those of the dependent. We propose an analysis of this pattern in which the ezafe first enters into a downward Agree relation with its dependent and then agrees upward with the head noun. This derives the pattern of concord and makes sense of the fact that restrictions on nominal concord in Zazaki mirror restrictions on verbal agreement. As a consequence, our analysis offers evidence that nominal concord has a syntactic signature (Mallen 1997; Carstens 2000; Baker 2008), and that the directionality of Agree is more flexible than previously thought (Baker 2008; Bejar and Rezac 2009; Zeijlstra 2012; Preminger 2012).


Linguistics Colloquium 10/12 - Pranav Anand  

Speaker: Pranav Anand (UC Santa Cruz)
Title: Assessing the pragmatics of experiments: The case of scalar implicature
Date/Time: Friday, Oct 12, 3:30-5p
Location: 32-141

There is a growing impetus to examine pragmatic phenomena experimentally. Potentially complicating these investigations is the way in which the experimental environment itself shapes participants’ models of extra‐linguistic context. A spate of recent results collectively suggest that the computation of scalar implicature may be sensitive to a host of factors: task structure, social norms, and type of response elicited. However, these results provide only a few points in a vast space of potential task parameters, thereby limiting our ability to systematically model the interaction between linguistic forms, context and pragmatic inference. This talk reports ongoing work to systematically investigate the parametric space of task design. We find that implicature calculation rates are sensitive to both the structure of the response elicited (e.g., scalar vs. unordered) as well as the task prompt (whether the participant judges “accuracy”, “informativity”, or “goodness”), and discuss the methodological lessons of this kind of work.


MIT Linguists on the Road  

Over the weekend, Michelle Fullwood was at the University of Maryland for this year’s Northeast Computational Phonology Workshop (NECPhon) and presented “Learning nonconcatenative morphological units via Bayesian inference.” Meanwhile, Gretchen Kern gave a talk entitled “Aspects of Old and Middle Irish rhyme” at the 32nd Harvard Celtic Colloquium.

This upcoming weekend, the Workshop on Locality and Directionality at the Morphosyntax-Phonology Interface is being held at Stanford. Norvin Richards will give a talk entitled “Generalizing a metrical EPP,” and Sam Steddy will present a poster called “How palatalisation in Italian verbal morphology is a regular process & how base-derivative faithfulness creates a lexical gap.”