The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling Lunch 2/19 - Marie-Christine Meyer

Speaker: Marie-Christine Meyer (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Title: Redundancy and Embedded Exhaustification
Time: Thurs 2/19, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

In this talk we are going to look at some of the most recent developments in the area of embedded exhaustification, by which I mean the insertion of a grammatical operator exh as one possible mechanism to derive embedded implicatures (see e.g. Sauerland 2010, 2012 for others). As recently as 2009 (Geurts&Pouscoulos), the mere existence of embedded implicatures has been disputed. On the other hand, the last decade has seen various successful applications of (embedded) exhaustification, ranging from polarity sensitivity (Chierchia 2004 et seq.) and Free Choice (Fox 2007, Meyer 2014b) to surface redundant disjunctions (Chierchia,Fox&Spector 2012, Gajewski&Sharvit 2012,Meyer 2014a, Mayr&Romoli 2014). However, these contributions concentrate on what embedded exhaustification can do, and background the old question of what it can not do, and why not (e.g. Horn 1989). I propose that, for starters, embedded exhaustification cannot violate the Gricean maxim of Brevity. Departing from a formalization of this idea, we will see how it addresses Horn’s old question and related challenges currently discussed (Fox&Spector 2014, Spector 2014): What happens in downward-entailing environments? — e.g., Mary didn’t talk to Bill or Sue (*or both) Why are some, but not all logically redundant disjuncts acceptable? — e.g., Mary either studied physics, or (she didn’t and) she studied math. Why do certain embedded implicatures have to be marked phonologically? — e.g., Mary didn’t study math OR physics.