The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, June 15th, 2020

DeGraff @ ABRALIN — watch the lecture

Our colleague Michel DeGraff’s ABRALIN lecture from June 14 is now available to watch and ponder.

Kai von Fintel explains

Our colleague, Linguistics section head Kai von Fintel was interviewed about language, semantics, language acquisition, “if”, and more, in the series “Philosophical Trials”. Watch it here or click below.

Summer Talk Series 6/18 - Suzana Fong

Speaker: Suzana Fong (MIT)
Title: The A/Ā Distinction as an Epiphenomenon (Safir 2019)
Time: Thursday, June 18th, 12:30pm - 2pm

Abstract: ”This article demonstrates that the A/Ā distinction is an epiphenomenon that emerges from independently necessary properties of Merge and the interpretive components. A true explanation of the A/Ā distinction requires that the distinction between the two classes of structures must emerge from a conspiracy of independently motivated principles and that the distinction should explain why the contrasts between A- and Ā-constructions are precisely the ones they are. I argue that certain moved constituents must be structurally altered on the way to their landing sites; otherwise, they will interfere with Case and agreement relations. I propose that an optional instance of Merge, late attachment of a prepositional head to the moved DP, “insulates” that DP from Case and agreement, but has consequences for what an insulated DP can antecede and/or license. Insulation is optional, but limited by independently motivated interface requirements that determine its distribution. The distribution of insulation explains why A- and Ā-structures differ in just the ways they do and not in other ways.”

Pre-publication draft: https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/002798.