The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, October 27th, 2014

NELS at MIT this week

The 45th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society will be held at the MIT on October 31 - November 2nd, 2014. Invited speakers are:

Please visit the conference website for more information.


Phonology Circle 10/27 - no meeting this week

There will be no Phonology Circle meeting this week.


ESSL/Lacqlab 10/29 - TBA

Speaker and title: to be announced
Time: Wednesday 10/29, 5:00 pm
Room: 32-D831


Ling-Lunch 10/30 - Andreea Nicolae

Speaker: Andreea Nicolae (ZAS Berlin)
Title: Positive polarity and strength of scalar implicatures
Date/Time:Thursday, October 30, 12:30-1:45pm
Location: 32-D461

The goal of this talk is to offer a new analysis of positive polarity elements in light of the differences between weak and strong disjunction (“or” versus “either or”). I will be addressing the following three properties of disjunctive elements in this talk:
◦ the ease of cancelability (strength) of their scalar inference
◦ the PPI status of a disjunctive element
◦ the ignorance inference that accompanies both weak and strong disjunction

I will argue the following:
◦ the strength of the SI relates to the nature of the alternatives activated by the element at play, namely whether or not the scalar alternatives are obligatory (non-prunable).
◦ the PPI status is the result of an element’s appeal to non-vacuous exhaustification, i.e. proper strengthening.
◦ the epistemic ignorance inference is the result of a last resort way of avoiding a contradiction, namely via the insertion of a covert modal.

If time permits, we will also see how this account can be carried over to account for the PPI status of existential quantifiers.