The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 14th, 2020

Phonology Circle 9/14 - Anton Kukhto (MIT)

Speaker: Anton Kukhto (MIT)
Title: Munster Irish stress and the problem of mixed defaults
Time: Monday, September 14th, 5pm - 6:30pm

Abstract: This is a practice talk for AMP, happening too soon. I’ll discuss word stress in one Southern (Munster) Irish dialect, which: (a) is sensitive to syllable weight; (b) falls within an initial three-syllable window; (c) in a sequence of two or more light syllables (L) falls on the first one, #’LL…, while in a sequence of two or more heavy syllables (H), falls on the second one, #H’H… . Kager (2012) terms this configuration “mixed default” stress (the term “conflicting directionality” has been used for a similar phenomenon in unbounded stress systems and elsewhere) and notes that it cannot be accounted for by his weakly layered feet approach to window stress systems without adjustments. I’ll give an analysis relying on grid-based constraints defined in moraic terms and local constraint conjunction. I will then consider some grid-based and foot-based alternatives and their respective typological and Irish-specific predictions.

Syntax Square 9/15 - Suzana Fong (MIT)

Speaker: Suzana Fong (MIT)
Title: Discussion of Poole (2020), Improper Case (cont’d)
Time: Tuesday, September 15th, 1pm - 2pm

Abstract: “This paper argues that case assignment is impossible in configurations that parallel generalized improper-movement configurations. Thus, like improper movement, there is “improper case”. The empirical motivation comes from (i) the interaction between case and movement and (ii) crossclausal case assignment in Finnish. I propose that improper case is ruled out by the Ban on Improper Case: a DP in [Spec, XP] cannot establish a dependent-case relationship with a lower DP across YP if Y is higher than X in the functional sequence. I show that this constraint falls under a strong version of the Williams Cycle (Williams 1974, 2003, 2013; van Riemsdijk and Williams 1981) and is derived under Williams’s (2003, 2013) analysis of embedding.”

LF Reading Group 9/16 - Keny Chatain (MIT)

Speaker: Keny Chatain (MIT)
Title: Exploring a new recipe for implicature calculation
Time: Wednesday, September 16th, 1pm - 2pm

Abstract: This is the very preliminary give-me-feedback stage of a work on implicature calculation. My goal is to tackle puzzling data on distributive implicatures in the scope and restrictor of quantifiers (due to Filipe Kobayashi) and try to validate a parallel between distributive inferences and ignorance inferences (cf Meyer, 2014). The main idea is to minimally modify Anvari’s Logical Integrity principle (and with it, the theory of local contexts) and use it to compute regular scalar implicatures, rather than the Maximize Presupposition and Magri cases for which this generalization was originally designed.

The resulting system shows promising results: it captures the problematic data points that motivated it, it also captures a number of the standard cases (Chierchia’s problem, multiple disjunctions) and, with minimal cheating, the more tricky cases of free choice and some under some (Bassi, Del Pinal and Sauerland, 2019). There are some missed predictions (e.g. no account of Hurford disjunctions in sight) and some unanswered conceptual questions (is this a pragmatic or semantic approach? is it a descriptive generalization or a genuine explanation?). Hopefully, you can help me sort this out and figure out whether this is a dead end or an idea worth pursuing!

MorPhun 9/16 - Patrick Niedzielski (MIT)

Speaker: Patrick Niedzielski (MIT)
Title: Choi & Harley (2019): Locality domains and morphological rules
Time: Wednesday, September 16th, 5pm - 6:30pm

Abstract: “Korean subject honorification and Korean negation have both affixal and suppletive exponents. In addition, Korean negation has a periphrastic realization involving an auxiliary verb. By examining their interaction, we motivate several hypotheses concerning locality constraints on the conditioning of suppletion and the insertion of dissociated morphemes (‘node-sprouting’). At the same time, we come to a better understanding of the nature of Korean subject honorification. We show that Korean honorific morphemes are ‘dissociated’ or ‘sprouted,’ i.e., introduced by morphosyntactic rule in accordance with morphological well-formedness constraints, like many other agreement morphemes. We argue that the conditioning domain for node-sprouting is the syntactic phase. In contrast, our data suggest that the conditioning domain for suppletion is the complex X0, as proposed by Bobaljik (2012). We show that the ‘spanning’ hypotheses concerning exponence (Merchant 2015; Svenonius 2012), the ‘linear adjacency’ hypotheses (Embick 2010), and ‘accessibility domain’ hypothesis (Moskal 2014, 2015a, 2015b; Moskal and Smith 2016) make incorrect predictions for Korean suppletion. Finally, we argue that competition between honorific and negative suppletive exponents reveals a root-outwards effect in allomorphic conditioning, supporting the idea that insertion of vocabulary items proceeds root-outwards (Bobaljik 2000).”