The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, February 11th, 2013

Phonology Circle Organizational Meeting - 2/11

Phonology Circle is scheduled for Mondays 5-7p this semester. There is a brief organizational meeting today at 5pm. If you cannot attend but would like to make a presentation this term, contact Michael Kenstowicz.

Syntax Square 2/12 - Junya Nomura

Speaker: Junya Nomura
Title: Syntax of Associative Plurals and Licensing of Empty Nouns
Date/time: Tuesday, Feb 12th, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

It’s been claimed by many researchers (Rizzi (1986), Lobeck (1993,1995) among others) that agreements involve licensing of empty elements. Licensing can be done between a verb and a DP or can be DP-internal. In this talk, I would like to propose two claims about associative plurals.

First, following Vassilieva (2005) and Zhang (2008), I will show that associative plurals should be analyzed to contain an empty noun and that what seems to be a head noun is really a modifier. The evidence for this consists of modifier-like morphology of associative plurals and positions of plural marker.

Second, I will provide evidence that the empty noun inside associative plurals must be licensed by agreeing with a plural morphology. In some languages (Japanese, Turkish, Chinese among others), this licensing is done DP-internally, and the claim that the empty noun requires a licensing is difficult to check. However, other languages, for example Kaqchikel and Maltese, adopt licensing by a verb and the claim is falsifiable. I found some evidence in Kaqchikel that the licensing is really necessary. That is, in some constructions, such as First Conjunct Agreement and Agent Focus, a verb cannot agree with an argument in some positions. In these position, associative plurals are not possible, even though ordinary plurals are possible even when there is no plural morphology.

Paper by Coppe van Urk in Linguistic Inquiry

A new paper, “Visser’s Generalization: The Syntax of Control and the Passive” by 3rd-year student Coppe van Urk has just appeared in Linguistic Inquiry.  Congratulations, Coppe!!

ESSL organizational meeting 2/14

This semester the experimental syntax-semantics lab meetings will take place on Thursdays, 5:30-7pm in 32-D831. An organizational meeting will take place this Thursday, 2/14. A tentative schedule for the rest of the semester is given below. Please email Hadas Kotek if you are interested in presenting at this venue.

Starting on February 28th, we will offer a 5-week workshop on the use of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (dates below). The workshop is designed for people with little or no experience doing experimental work, and will provide tools and technical assistance to allow participants to develop, run and analyze their own (simple) experiment. We plan to cover general topics such as the use of experimental methods in linguistics and experimental design and also much more technical issues like creating input files and html templates for Turk and using R to analyze the results. The workshop is planned to be hands-on, as we think people will benefit from it the most this way, but observers are also welcome. We will provide more details about the workshop in the lab meeting next week, but feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Important: As part of the workshop we hope that each participant will develop and run their own small experiment. We are now in the process of trying to get the department to fund these experiments and therefore need to have a participant head count. If you think you may want to participate, please let Hadas know. If you later decide you can’t make it that’s ok, but if you only decide later that you want to participate we may not be able to fund you.

Schedule for this semester:
Feb 14: Organizational meeting
Feb 21: David Gow
Feb 28: Turk workshop I
March 7: Turk workshop II
March 14: Turk workshop III
March 21: OPEN
March 28: No meeting, spring break
April 4: Turk workshop IV
April 11: Turk workshop V
April 18: OPEN
April 25: OPEN
May 2: OPEN
May 9: OPEN
May 16: OPEN

Visiting Members for Spring 2013

Following up on their introductions at the Departmental Lunch last week, Whamit! extends our warmest welcome to the new visiting members of the department for this semester.

Visiting Scholars

  • Heriberto Avelino (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology) His research investigates the phonotactics of complex nasals and nasal neutralization avoidance by examining a number of diverse languages which include in its repertoire pre-occluded nasals (DN) as in /tàlúgn/ ‘rooster’ (Nothern Pame, Otomanguean) and post-occluded nasals (ND) as in /ambo/ ‘to climb’ (Karitiana, Tupi).
  • Gary Thoms (University of Edinburgh) His research interests are in literary linguistics and syntax.

Postdoctorate Fellow

  • Martin Rohrmeier  is an Intelligence Initiative post-doctoral fellow whose research concerns music cognition and learning and the relation of musical structure to linguistic structure.  Martin studied philosophy, mathematics and musicology in Bonn, Germany, and completed his PhD in musicology in 2010, under the supervision of Dr. Ian Cross.  He has held a research internship with Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, and most recently has been a postdoctoral researcher working with Stefan Kölsch at the Free University of Berlin.  While in Berlin, Martin regularly improvised music for  showings of silent films (and he has many other musical talents as well).

Visiting Students

  • Maria (Malu) Luisa de Andrade Freitas (University of Campinas) Her research studies person hierarchy phenomena in two native South American languages: Guaraní (Tupí-Guaraní) and Ikpeng (Carib family).
  • Moreno Mitrović (University of Cambridge, Jesus College) His research is on the syntax and semantics of coordinate construction in Indo-European.
  • Tomislav Socanac (University of Geneva) He is part of a research project that aims to account for the cross-linguistic properties of the subjunctive mood category.