The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, November 12th, 2012

Syntax Square 11/13 - Marko Hladnik

Speaker: Marko Hladnik (Utrecht University)
Title: Resumption in Slavic relative clauses
Date/Time: Tuesday, Nov 13, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

Starting with Slovene, we explore the patterns of relative clause (RC) resumption and argue that the common alternative ways of forming a RC we find in Slavic languages share one and the same syntactic derivation, with differences arising at PF due to recoverability considerations. Furthermore, the necessity to differentiate three types of resumption is demonstrated, and we argue that apparent optionality of resumption in Serbo-Croatian and Polish has deeper syntactic causes, and is conditioned by case morphology paradigms.

Ling-Lunch 11/15 - Isa Kerem Bayirli

Speaker: Isa Kerem Bayirli
Title: Impossible Syntactic Representations = Impossible Morphological Expressions?
Date/Time: Thursday, Nov 15, 12:30-1:45p
Location: 32D-461

In this talk, I will argue that previous approaches to suffixhood in the inflectional domain, both in their lexicalist (Lieber, 1980 i.a. ) and syntactic (Ouhalla, 1991 i.a.) variants, fail to capture a pattern that emerges upon closer inspection. The pattern in question is this:

V-X Generalization
A morpheme that categorically selects for a verbal item is always a suffix on this verbal item.

An approach that takes suffixhood to be lexically idiosyncratic information treats this as an accident - an unsatisfying conclusion.

My second claim will be that this observation is correlated with a restriction on what kind of behavior verbal items can show:

A Restriction on the Behavior of Verbal Items
Projections headed by verbal items cannot show phrasal behavior (i.e. movement to a spec position and coordination).

The challenge posed by the English language to these claims will be argued to arise from the fact that what has been taken to be bare `VP` in English is actually a projection headed by an infinitival projection, for which independent evidence is presented.

The correlation between the generalization and the restriction given above will be formed as a causal relation, using an non-lexicalist implementation of Brody`s (2003) Mirror Theory.

All in all, we will end up having impossible morphological facts arising from an impossible syntactic representation. This adds a new dimension to debates on the exact relation between syntax and morphology.

ESSL Meeting 11/15 - Wataru Uegaki

Title: A grammatical source of the “Gettier” judgment
Speaker: Wataru Uegaki
Date/Time: Thursday, November 15, 5:30pm
Location: 32-D831

In this talk, I will present the result of my joint experiment with Paul Marty on what kind of grammatical factors affect English native speakers’ truth-value judgment of sentences containing “know”. After Gettier’s (1963) famous examples, it is widely known that a sentence of the form “x knows that p” can be false even when x justifiably believes p and p is true, contra the traditional view that knowledge consists of justified true belief. In our experiment, we tested whether the grammatical form of the complement of “know” affects the truth-value judgment of a knowledge-sentence. According to the result of our experiment, participants judge a knowledge-sentence with a disjunction in the complement significantly less likely as true than a classically equivalent sentence without a disjunction, especially under a Gettier-like scenario. We will discuss theoretical consequences of this result on the semantics of “know” and associated verification strategies. Specifically, I will argue that the result is compatible with the semantics of “know” which is sensitive to the “alternative possibilities” induced by specific grammatical devices such as disjunction and indefinites whereas it calls for further explanation in the analysis where “know” is only sensitive to the classical semantic value of the complement.

MIT Linguistics to host Japanese/Korean Linguistics 23 and NECPhon in Fall 2013

We’re excited to announce that two conferences will be hosted by our department next fall.

The 23rd Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference (JK23) is the longest running conference on Japanese and Korean linguistics, offering a forum for the presentation of research that contributes to our understanding of the structure and history of the two languages. Next year’s meeting is scheduled for October 11-13, 2013. The website for JK23 is at http://jk.mit.edu/.

The Northeast Computational Phonology Workshop (NECPhon) is an informal gathering of scholars working on or interested in aspects of computational phonology. The meeting date is to be determined.

Stay tuned for further information.