Whamit!

The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, March 9th, 2015

LFRG 3/9 - Aron Hirsch

Speaker: Aron Hirsch (MIT)
Title: Conjoining quantifiers
Time: Monday 3/9, 12-1:30
Place: 32-D831

The examples in (1) are straightforward to interpret if movement leaves in situ a variable (e.g. Heim & Kratzer 1998). I will show, however, that they pose a challenge under the well-motivated view that movement leaves in situ copies that are converted into definite descriptions by Fox’s (1999, 2002) trace conversion.

(1) a. I talked to John and every student.
b. I talked to every student but no professor. (due to Kai von Fintel)

I will explore possible analyses for (1a) and (1b) compatible with trace conversion, and suggest that the most promising solution involves conjunction reduction. In the final part of the presentation, I will discuss evidence which contradicts a classic variable-based approach, and supports the trace conversion-based approach suggested.

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Phonology Circle 3/9 - Hemanga Dutta and Michael Kenstowicz

Speaker: Hemanga Dutta (EFLU / MIT) and Michael Kenstowicz (MIT)
Title: Laryngeal Contrasts in Assamese
Date: Monday, March 9th
Time: 5-6:30
Place: 32-D461

The Indic languages are well known for the four-way /p,b,ph,bh/ contrast in their stop systems that freely combines [±voice] and [±spread gl] at three points of articulation. In this presentation we examine how these contrasts are expressed in Assamese in four contexts: prevocalic, presonorant, word-final, and preobstruent. Our principal finding is that aspirated stops modify their minor point of articulation in word-final position to replicate aspiration as noise either in the release of the stop or during the constriction while in the preobstruent context aspiration is largely lost leading to neutralization with the plain stops. In addition, the voicing contrast is also largely neutralized in preobstruent position. These modifications are analyzed in the licensing by cue framework of Steriade (1997, 2009).

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Ling Lunch 3/12 - Coppe van Urk

Speaker: Coppe van Urk (MIT)
Title: Movement in Dinka
Time: Thurs 3/12, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

In this talk, I examine the syntax of phrasal movement in Dinka (Nilotic; South Sudan). Most theoretical approaches to syntactic structure in some way distinguish at least three types of displacement: A-movement, A’-movement, and intermediate movement steps of a successive-cyclic dependency. I show that, in Dinka, these three movement types make use of the same two positions in the clause, one at the edge of the clause and one at the edge of the verb phrase, and have the same morphosyntactic repercussions for verb-second, voice, case, agreement, and binding. On the basis of these facts, I argue that all types of phrasal movement are established in the same way, as the reflex of a featural relation between a probe and a goal (Chomsky 1995, 2000, 2001), with the differences between them deriving only from independent properties of the features involved. In this framework, we can view Dinka as a language in which different movement-driving features act in unison, by virtue of being merged on the same head. After developing this argument, I discuss some of the ways in which we might derive the differences between A- and A’-movement, drawing on proposals by Takahashi and Hulsey (2009), Sauerland (1998, 2004), and Ruys (2000), among others.
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Ayaka Sugawara to Mie University

Congratulations to Ayaka Sugawara, our finishing PhD student, specializing in semantics and language acquisition, who has accepted a position as Lecturer in Japanese Linguistics at Mie University!!

Ayaka will be missed not only in the department and its Language Acquisition Lab but also in the New Philharmonia Orchestra of Massachusetts, where she has participated as a violinist for the last three years. Congratulations, yes, but we’ll miss you!

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