The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

MorPhun 10/20 - Luke Adamson (Harvard)

Speaker: Luke Adamson (Harvard)
Title: The locus of gender interpretation: A Reply to Yatsushiro and Sauerland (2006)
Time: Wednesday, October 20th, 5pm – 6:30pm

Abstract: Yatsushiro and Sauerland (2006) observe an ambiguity in German for a set of nouns with the feminine suffix -in, e.g. die beliebste Politikerin, which can be interpreted (referring to a woman) as ‘the most popular female politician’ or ‘the most popular politician’. They suggest that the two interpretations should be derived through variable placement of an interpretable feature [FEM], with the latter interpretation being derived when the noun’s gender is licensed through agreement with a higher instance of [FEM]. This type of agreement-based approach would have significant implications for the valuation of a noun’s gender if correct. However, we provide four arguments against this approach by examining evidence from comparative deletion, nominal Right Node Raising, nP ellipsis, and intermediate scope, and we sketch an alternative semantic account of the ambiguity.