The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, March 2nd, 2015

LFRG 3/2 - Despina Oikonomou  

Speaker: Despina Oikonomou (MIT)
Title: The interpretation of alos ‘other’ in Modern Greek
Time: Monday, March 2, 12-1:30pm
Place: 32-D831
Abstract: see Despina_abstract


Phonology Circle 3/2 - Naomi Francis  

Speaker: Naomi Francis (MIT)
Title: A foot-free approach to Nanti stress
Date: Monday, February 2nd
Time: 5-6:30
Place: 32-D461

Nanti (Kampa, Peru) has an intricate stress system that is sensitive to syllable weight, syllable shape, and vowel quality. Crowhurst and Michael (2005) capture this complex system in a foot-based framework. In light of recent work (e.g. Gordon 2002) that has demonstrated that it is possible to derive a wide range of quantity-insensitive stress patterns without making use of feet, I will attempt to extend this foot-free approach to account for Nanti’s stress system.


Syntax Square 3/3 - Martin Walkow  

Speaker: Martin Walkow (MIT)
Title: Locating variation in person restrictions: When they arise and how to get out of them
Date/Time:Tuesday, March 3, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

Two analyses have emerged from work on variation in person based restrictions on agreement and cliticization. Cyclic Agree analyses (Bejar 2003,Bejar & Rezac 2009) locate the variation in (i) the feature specification of probes, (ii) the syntactic position of probes, and as a function thereof, (ii) the locality pattern of Agree. On the other hand, Multiple Agree analyses (Anagnostopoulou 2005, Nevins 2007, 2011) assume that both the specification of the probes and the locality pattern are constant, but that variation arises from the availability of different syntactic operations in different languages. Nevins (2007, 2011) in particular argues that the operation MultipleAgree is parameterized differently in different languages.

The two approaches have not been applied to the same data though. While Cyclic Agree has been applied to variation in person-restrictions between subjects and objects, Multiple Agree has been applied to restrictions on combinations of internal arguments known as the Person Case Constraint (PCC, Bonet 1994).

This talk shows that Cyclic Agree can also account for the variation between two kinds of PCC, the Strong PCC (Bonet 1994) and the Ultrastrong PCC (Nevins 2007) via different specifications of the probe. Key to the analysis is the observation that the PCC can be understood as the lower direct object (DO) bleeding person Agree with the higher recipient, the reverse of what is typically assumed.

Cyclic Agree’s flexibility of deriving person restrictions in different syntactic structures also offers a better understanding of a second type of variation. Languages that show the same types of PCC can differ in the alternative strategies they use to realize person combinations banned by the PCC. This is demonstrated for Catalan (Bonet 1991) and Classical Arabic, which both show have strong and ultrastrong PCC speakers but differ in the which argument is targeted for alternative realization in PCC-violating person combinations. This difference will be derived from the different underlying structures in which the PCC arrises in the two languages.


Colloquium 3/6 - Richard Larson  

Speaker: Richard Larson (Stony Brook)
Title: Quantificational States/br> Date: Friday, March 6th
Time: 3:30-5:00p
Place: 32-141

The abstract of this talk is available here.


Going Heim  

The University of Connecticut celebrates Irene Heim!

The UConn Logic group is proud to announce its annual logic workshop. The workshop is organized around a researcher whose work has had a significant and lasting influence on the field. The remaining talks, invited and selected, will be given by critics or contributors to the field who were influenced by the keynote speakers’s work.

2015: Going Heim. Linguistic Meaning Between Structure and Use.

Irene Heim is among the most influential scholars in the study of natural-language semantics and pragmatics. Several of her lasting contributions to the field were contained or foreshadowed in her dissertation “The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases” (UMass Amherst, 1982). There, Heim demonstrated that Montagovian semantics and Chomskyan syntax, two schools of thought which had developed independently and were deemed at cross-purposes by many, could in fact be unified to mutual benefit. Heim’s dissertation is also one of the first fully developed accounts in what would come to be known as dynamic semantics. With this workshop, we will celebrate Heim’s recent 60th birthday and use the occasion to reflect on the transformative nature of her early work, its continued influence over the years since, and the present state and trajectory of the field of formal semantics and pragmatics.

Location: TBA
Date: May 2-3, 2015
Keynote: Irene Heim (MIT)
Confirmed Speakers:
David Beaver (Texas)
Simon Charlow (Rutgers)
Hans Kamp (Stuttgart/Texas)
Barbara Partee (UMass)
Thomas Ede Zimmermann (Frankfurt)


Sam Zukoff at Harvard  

Third year student Sam Zukoff will give a talk about Repetition Avoidance and the Exceptional Reduplication Patterns of Indo-European in the GSAS Workshop on Indo-European and Historical Linguistics at Harvard on Wednesday, March 4 at 5:00 pm, in Boylston Hall 303. Congratulations, Sam!


Tenure for Ezra Keshet  

Exciting news from our alumnus Ezra Keshet (PhD 2008) who has been recommended for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan. Congratulations Ezra!!!