The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LF Reading Group 10/23 - Vincent Rouillard (MIT)

Speaker: Vincent Rouillard (MIT)
Title: An Alternative Based Analysis of Temporal in-Adverbials
Time: Wednesday, October 23rd, 1pm – 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: Following the idea that polarity sensitivity in language results from the logical relation between alternatives, I analyze the changing polarity sensitivity of temporal in-adverbials as the result of a change in the logical structure of alternatives. More precisely, I compare the lack of polarity sensitivity of such modifiers in (1), where they specify the length of an event, with their status as NPIs in (2), where they assign a left-boundary to the Perfect Time Span.

(1) a. Mary wrote the paper in minutes. b. Mary didn’t write the paper in minutes.

(2) a. *Mary has had a seizure in years. b. Mary hasn’t had a seizure in years.

I propose to understand the emergence of polarity sensitivity in (2) as resulting from an interaction between aspect and alternatives. Aspect creates a logical relationship between the alternatives of the sentences in (2), a relationship absent from the alternatives to the sentences in (1).