The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, October 7th, 2013

Syntax Square 10/8 - Sam Steddy and Coppe van Urk

Speakers: Sam Steddy and Coppe van Urk
Title: A Distributed Morphology View of Person-driven Auxiliary Selection
Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct 8, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

We examine the BE vs. HAVE auxiliary splits of Upper-Southern Italian, which differ from familiar Romance languages in being conditioned not by verb type (Burzio 1986), but by person. Building on the work of D’Alessandro (2012 et. prev) and Manzini & Savoia (2005, 2011), we apply the methodology of Arregi & Nevins (2012) to the auxiliaries of Ariellese (Chieti, Abbruzzo) and other languages. Specifically, splits arise because subject clitics and a prepositional head, which turns BE into HAVE (Freeze 1992; Kayne 1993), compete to reach T. This proposal provides support for the idea that HAVE is derived from BE in syntax, and for Arregi & Nevins’ (2012) account of the PCC in Basque.


Ling-Lunch 10/10 - Alexander Podobryaev

Speaker: Alexander Podobryaev
Title: Context and assignment in indexical shifting
Date/Time: Thursday, Oct 10, 12:30-1:45p
Location: 32-D461

Recently, there has been a lot of work done on “shifting” of indexical pronouns in embedded contexts, in various languages. In this talk I examine some novel data from Mishar Tatar (MT<Turkic). There seems to be two kinds of indexical pronouns in MT: indexicals that are context-dependent (cf. Anand 2006), and those that are are only assignment-dependent (cf. Sudo 2012). It is only the latter that can get “shifted” interpretation in embedded contexts (because the monster operator in MT presumably can only manipulate the assignment function but not the context). Crucially, it is also only the latter that can appear as “fake” (semantically bound) indexicals. What’s more, it also happens that context-dependent pronouns are phonologically overt, while assignment-dependent pronouns are null. Time permitting, I will discuss why this would be the case.


Japanese/Korean Linguistics 23 to be held this week

The 23rd meeting of the Japanese/Korean Linguistics conference (JK23) will be held at MIT this weekend, Oct 11-13. Please see the website for registration and the full schedule — the invited speakers are:


MIT Linguists Visit Amherst

Members of our department were at UMass Amherst over the weekend for the Workshop on the Acquisition of Quantification. Among the participants were:

  • Recent PhD Jeremy Hartman was part of the organizing committee, and gave a talk (with Amanda Rizun, UMass Amherst) entitled “Quantifier spreading and domain restrictions on event quantification.”
  • Faculty member Martin Hackl was an invited speaker whose talk was entitled “Scalar Presupposition and the Structure of Alternatives in the Acquisition of Only.”
  • First-year graduate student Athulya Aravind presented (with Jill De Villers, Smith College) “Quantification with Every: Children’s Error Types over Time.”
  • Seth Cable (PhD 2007) spoke on “Each and every,” a joint work with Rama Novogrodsky, Magda Oiry and Tom Roeper (UMass Amherst).

ESSL meeting 10/10 - Aron Hirsch

Speaker: Aron Hirsch
Date/Time: Thursday 10 October, 5 pm
Location: 32-D831
Title: Incremental presupposition projection in disjunction


Presupposition projection in conjunction shows left-to-right asymmetries, sensitive to the linear order of the conjuncts. Theories have been proposed linking such asymmetries to general processing considerations, predicting similar asymmetries to be observable across sentential connectives. We address an apparent counter-example – disjunction – which in the classic examples in the literature appears projectively symmetric. We argue that the classic examples are confounded, and show (i) that once the confound is resolved, disjunction is projectively asymmetric, and (ii) that even with the confound in place, there are experimentally observable traces of asymmetry consistent with a processing-based approach.