The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 15th, 2014

Phonology 2014 at MIT this week

Phonology 2014 will be held at MIT from September 19-21, 2014. Methods tutorials will be held on Friday Sept 19, and research presentations (talks and posters) will take place on Sat and Sun Sept 20-21. Invited speakers are:

Visit the conference website for more information.


Phonology Circle 09/15 - Suyeon Yun

Speaker: Suyeon Yun (MIT)
Title: English -uh-insertion and consonant cluster splittability
Date/Time: Monday, September 15, 5-6:30 pm
Location: 32-D461

This paper investigates the grammar of consonant cluster splittability based on a case study from English -uh-insertion, which, to my knowledge, has not been described or studied thus far. Experimental evidence will show that the acceptability of -uh-insertion is determined by interactions of several factors, so that the resulting -uh-form can be perceptually similar to the original word.

Syntax Square 9/16 - Coppe van Urk

Speaker: Coppe van Urk (MIT)
Title: Why Dutch is like Salish: On the nature of the EPP
Date/Time: Tuesday, Sept 16, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

This talk discusses some syntactic environments in Dutch in which Locative Inversion appears to be obligatory (Hoekstra and Mulder 1990; Zwart 1991). I show that this pattern generalizes and that locative expressions, particularly locative proforms, may be used to satisfy the EPP property of Spec-IP. I relate this to the claim, developed by Ritter and Wiltschko (2009) on the basis of Salishan languages, that Infl may have locative content, and I offer a modification of the Ritter and Wiltschko proposal that accommodates the Dutch facts. If on the right track, this proposal suggests that the EPP is a property of a head (Landau 2006; Richards 2014), rather than a property of a single feature (Chomsky 1995; Pesetsky and Torrego 2001).

ESSL/LacqLab 09/17 - Iain Giblin

Our next ESSL/LacqLab meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 17, at 3:00 PM in room 32-D831 (note room change from last week!). Iain Giblin will be presenting on nominal recursion in child language.


Ling-Lunch 9/18- Tsuyoshi Sugawara

Speaker: Tsuyoshi Sugawara (Ube National College of Technology / MIT)
Title: Between Red Sox and Generative Grammar: The Lexical Semantics and Morphosyntax of the SASPAN Construction
Date/Time:Thursday, September 18, 12:30-1:45pm
Location: 32-D461

The purpose of this talk is to discuss the lexical-semantic and morpho-syntactic properties of Syntactically Attributive but Semantically Predicative Adjective-plus-Noun (SASPAN) construction,exemplified by “an adjectival analysis of cardinal numerals.” I will describe the peculiarity of the SASPAN constructions, in comparison with some other adjective-noun combinations in which the prenominal adjective combines with the head noun in a non-intersective way, and show examples of such a construction in English, Japanese and other languages. Then, by employing the framework of the Generative Lexicon Theory ( e.g., Pustejovsky 1995, Jackendoff 1997, 2002, Pustejovsky et. al. 2013) and building on the earlier findings in Sugawara (2010, 2011, 2013a,b), I will propose (i) a semantic structure for the head noun occurring in the construction, (ii) two semantic constraints on the construction, one applying to the prenominal adjective and the other to the head noun, and (iii) the mechanism by which such a construction is derived.


We forgot to tell you last week, but several of our linguists - faculty and students both - spent the previous week in Oxford giving talks at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of Great Britain (LAGB).

Faculty speakers included invited speaker Adam Albright, who gave both a Masterclass on “Gradient Phonotactics” and the 2014 Association Lecture on “Generalizing phonological patterns with phonetic and featural biases”, and Edward Flemming, who spoke about “Deriving long-distance coarticulation from local constraints”.

In addition, two talks by three students were delivered by two students (for homework, figure out the possible scope relations among these quantifiers, and which reading we intended): 3rd-year student Juliet Stanton spoke on “Varieties of A’ extractions: evidence from preposition stranding”, and Sam Steddy gave a talk presenting joint work with Iain Giblin entitled “Where’s wh-? Prosodic disambiguation of in-situ whphrases” (slides with audio here and handout here. (True tidbit: Juliet was interrogated about her talk by the border control officer at Heathrow airport. After pondering for a moment or two, he expressed agreement with the crucial judgments in her paper, and let her into the UK.)

Alumni of our program presenting at LAGB included Pilar Barbosa (PhD 1995), who gave a joint talk with Cecile Decat on “Subject object asymmetries in Clitic Left Dislocation” and Yasutada Sudo (PhD 2012), whose joint talk with Patrick Elliott discussed “E-type readings of quantifiers under ellipsis” — plus undergrad alum Christina Kim (S.B. 2003), who talked about “Predictability and implicit communicative content”. Recent visitors Caroline Heycock and Gary Thoms also gave a joint talk on “Reconstruction and modification in relative clauses”


Colloquium 09/18 - Jim McCloskey

Speaker: Jim McCloskey (UCSC)
Title: Phasehood, the Maximal Verbal Projection and Preverbs in Irish
Date/Time: Thursday, September 18th, 5:15-6:45 pm
Location: 34-101

Please note the special time, date and place for this talk.

The direct object relation is a relation of central importance in syntactic theory and so it was an important moment when the nature of that relation was fundamentally re-thought in work of the 1990’s. This paper examines some of the issues raised in that re-thinking, by looking closely at the expression of the direct object relation in Irish (infinitival) clauses. It focuses in particular on what is to be learned from an intricate pattern of dialectal, idiolectal, and generational variation which, it is claimed, sheds light on how we should understand `Burzio’s Generalization’, which is itself a central aspect of theories of objecthood which derive from Government Binding Theory.