The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 28th, 2020

LF Reading Group 9/30 - Tanya Bondarenko

Speaker: Tanya Bondarenko
Title: A problem with Content
Time: Wednesday, September 30th, 1pm - 2pm

Abstract: Under Kratzer’s approach to the semantics of clausal embedding (Kratzer 2006; 2016, Moulton 2009; 2015, Bogal-Allbritten 2016;2017, Elliott 2017), embedded clauses denote not propositions (2), but individuals with content (1).

(1) [[that it is raining]] = λxe. Content(x) = λws. it is raining in w (2) [[that it is raining]] = λws. it is raining in w

In this talk I show some evidence that the meaning in (1) is not sufficient to account for the range of what CPs can mean: CPs across different languages are ambiguous between (1) and another meaning, which I illustrate in (3) with an example from Russian. In (3) the CP describes not a contentful individual, but the kind of a situation that took place.

(3) Složilas’ takaja situacija, [čto ja utopil svoj telefon] happened such situation that I sunk self’s phone ‘A situation in which I sunk my phone happened.’

I would like to argue that the meaning of the CP in (3) is not reducible to (1) or (2). I sketch out a more abstract meaning for CPs, which is dependent on whether the argument that CP modifies is a contentful individual or a situation, and show a syntactic diagnostic in Russian that allows to distinguish between the two interpretations.

This work is at the very beginning stage, and I am very much looking forward to your feedback!

LingLunch 10/1 - Colin Davis (USC)

Speaker: Colin Davis (USC)
Title: On parasitic gaps in relative clauses and extraction from NP
Time: Thursday, October 1st, 12:30pm - 13:50pm

Abstract: Much research argues that spell-out at each phase (CP, vP, DP) explains phenomena such as successive cyclicity (Chomsky 2000, 2001, a.o.) and the locality of morpho-phonological processes (Embick & Marantz 2008, Embick 2010, a.o.). While several morphological works argue that NP (often re-cast as nP) is a phase as well, syntactic evidence for this concept is less-attested. Here I argue that parasitic gap licensing in relative clauses by extraction from the same NP (1) reveals the possibility of successive-cyclic movement from NP, and discuss several implications of this result.

(1) Who_1 did Mary take [pictures of t_1 [that weren’t that flattering to PG_1]]? (Citko 2014)

Experimentalist Meeting 10/2 - Cindy Torma and Cater Chen

Speaker: Cindy Torma and Cater Chen
Title: Practice Talks for BUCLD
Time: Friday, October 2nd, 2pm - 3:30pm

Abstract: Cindy Torma and (separately) Cater Chen will be presenting short practice talks for their poster presentations for BUCLD.

Colloquium 10/2 - John Baugh (Washington University in St.Louis)

Speaker: John Baugh (Washington University in St.Louis)
Title: Linguistics for Legal Purposes
Time: Friday, October 2nd, 3:30pm - 5pm

Abstract: This presentation includes evidence pertaining to six legal disputes where linguistic results were central to the adjudication of each case. Housing discrimination, murder trials, and civil litigation utilize diverse linguistic analyses. In addition, ambiguity is central to a case where allegations of a hostile work environment resulted in a class action lawsuit by men born in Africa, all of whom are nonnative English speakers. Problems associated with non-linguists serving as linguistic experts in court are also discussed, thereby emphasizing the importance of established linguistic analyses in support of the quest for equal justice under the law.