The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, April 11th, 2022

Syntax Square 4/12 - Bruna Karla Pereira (UFVJM)

Speaker: Bruna Karla Pereira (UFVJM)
Title: Silent nouns (TYPE, HUE, SIZE, and SURNAME) in Brazilian Portuguese nominal concord
Time: Tuesday, April 12th, 1pm - 2pm

Abstract: This talk aims to present a work in progress on nominal concord in BP structures, such as the following:

(1) a. “10 ovos caipira vermelhos” (10 eggs caipira red-PL / ‘10 red pasture-raised eggs’)
b. “10 ovos tipo jumbo brancos” (10 eggs type jumbo white-PL / ‘10 white jumbo-sized eggs’)
((1a,b) were taken from packaging labels of egg’s boxes in grocery stores of Belo Horizonte -MG, December 4th, 2021)
(1) a’. “10 ovos [(do TIPO) caipira] vermelhos” (10 eggs (of-the TYPE) caipira red-PL / ‘10 red pasture-raised eggs’)
(2) fitas [(do TIPO) cassete] médias (tapes (of-the TYPE) cassette medium-PL / ‘Medium cassettes’)
(3) camisas [(de TAMANHO) P] novas (t-shirts (of SIZE) S new-PL/ ‘new t-shirts S’)
(4) “50 máscaras [(do TIPO) adulto] descartáveis” (50 masks (of-the TYPE) adult disposable-PL / ‘50 disposable masks for adults’)
(5) “lavagem [(do TIPO) expresso]” (laundry-FEM (of-the TYPE) express-MASC / ‘express laundry’)
(6) saia [(de TOM) vermelho escuro] (skirt-FEM (of HUE) red-MASC dark-MASC / ‘a dark red skirt’)
(7) os (familiares [de SOBRENOME) Pereira] (the (relatives of SURNAME) Pereira / ‘the Pereiras’)

Most of the data were collected from written sources that intend to apply standard patterns of agreement, id est, the redundant plural marking in the constituents of the DP. That is why the morpheme ‘-s’ is marked in ‘ovos’ and ‘vermelhos’ (1a) as well as in ‘ovos’ and ‘brancos’ (1b). Being so, why is the word ‘caipira’ (1a) unmarked with the plural morpheme? Kayne (2005), Pesetsky (2013), and Höhn (2016) consider the existence of a null category to account for the apparent mismatch of agreement, respectively, in number in Italian and French, in gender in Russian, and in person in Spanish and Greek. Likewise, I assume that a nominal null category, in the DP, triggers the number agreement in DPs like (1). Following Kayne (2005) and Pereira’s (2016a, 2016b, 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021) approach on structures with apparent mismatch of agreement in BP, I argue that (1a) projects a silent noun TIPO (TYPE), preceded by the preposition ‘de’, as illustrated in (1a’). Therefore, ‘caipira’ is inflected in singular, because it agrees in number with a singular silent noun TIPO. This same silent noun is overt in (1b). In this operation (PESETSKY; TORREGO, 2007), the adjective (probe), containing uninterpretable gender features, becomes valued [uF val] via agreement with the silent noun TIPO (TYPE), containing interpretable and valued gender features [iF val]. Likewise, (2) to (7) project the silent nouns TIPO (TYPE), TAMANHO (SIZE), TOM (HUE), and SOBRENOME (SURNAME). In these structures, the postnominal constituents in the brackets agree with the respective silent noun that precedes them in singular number (‘cassete’ (2), ‘P’ (3), and ‘Pereira’ (7)) as well as in masculine gender (‘adulto’ (4), ‘expresso’ (5), and ‘vermelho escuro’ (6)).

In sum, this analysis demonstrates that there is no “unagreement”, in the phrases at stake, but agreement between the adjective and a silent noun, in the DP-internal structure.

LF Reading Group 4/13 - Jad Wehbe (MIT)

Speaker: Jad Wehbe (MIT)
Title: Plurality in the Lebanese Arabic double subject construction
Time: Wednesday, April 13th, 1pm - 2pm

Abstract: Abstract: Lebanese Arabic allows for double subject constructions (Mohammad, 1989; Aoun et al., 1994), where there is a lower conjunction in which the first conjunct co-refers with the higher subject (1). The double subject construction can only be used in a subset of the situations where standard coordination can be used. For example, it is odd with purely distributive predicates like tall and only allows for collective readings with predicates like lift the piano when both conjuncts denote atomic individuals, which mirrors the behavior of singular comitatives (Ionin and Matushansky, 2002). I argue that these restrictions provide evidence against lexical cumulativity as a universal (Krifka, 1992; Kratzer, 2007). I propose, building on Ionin and Matushansky (2002), that pluralization operators (for example * (Link, 1983) and ** (Krifka, 1989)) must be present in the syntax and obligatorily take scope above the vP. Furthermore, I argue that these operators are the only sources of cumulative inferences. This allows us to account both for the restrictions when the conjuncts are singular, and for the co-distributive readings that arise over the conjunction when the conjuncts are plural. Turning to the interpretations under negation, I show that the homogeneity effects that arise with standard coordination can’t be detected in the double subject construction. This provides strong evidence that the * operator is the only source of homogeneity in the individual domain (following Schwarzschild, 1994; Bar-Lev, 2018), arguing against approaches that take homogeneity to be a lexical property of predicates (e.g. Križ, 2015).

(1) Karim    ra:ħ    howwe  w            Hadi   ʕa-l        maktabe.
     Karim    went   him        and        Hadi   to-the    library
     ‘Karim and Hadi went to the library together.’

Phonology Circle 4/11 - Canaan Breiss (MIT)

Speaker: Canaan Breiss (MIT)
Title: When bases compete: experimental and computational studies of Lexical Conservatism
Time: Monday, April 11th, 5pm - 6:30pm

Abstract: (This is a continuation of the presentation given on 4/4)

In this talk I examine the interaction of the phonological grammar and the lexicon through the lens of Lexical Conservatism (Steriade, 1997). This is a theory that addresses how the distribution of bases (existing stem allomorphs in a morphological paradigm) influence the way those paradigms accommodate novel members. The idea is that a phonological alternation only applies to novel words if there is an existing base form present elsewhere in the paradigm that offers the needed phonological material. Thus compénsable, for “able to be compensated”, undergoes stress shift (that is, *cómpensable) because the existing word compénsatory contains the compéns- allomorph. In contrast, *inúndable, for “able to be inundated” is judged worse than ínundable, since there is no existing base that can provide the stressed vowel (there is no form in inúd-). Using experimental data from English and Mexican Spanish, I demonstrate that this dependency between paradigm structure and phonological process application generalizes to entirely novel words in a probabilistic manner. Further, contrary to previous assumptions, I find that all stem allomorphs in a paradigm play a role in determining the form of the novel word, rather than only those that could reduce the markedness of the novel form (per Steriade (1997), Steriade & Stanton (2020)). I propose a novel grammatical model where allomorphs in the lexicon exert analogical pressures on novel words, which are cross-cut by phonological markedness constraints.

Minicourse 4/13, 4/15 - Ana Arregui (UMass Amherst)

Speaker: Ana Arregui (UMass Amherst)

Times and locations of the minicourse:

-  Wednesday 4/13 2-3pm in 32‑D461
-  Friday 4/15 11-1pm in 2-132

TITLE: Has the future happened?

We usually make the assumption that, contrary to the past, the future has not happened yet. There is something intuitive about this, and the intuition is reflected in various ways in the semantic literature that deals with the interpretation of future markers in language. How exactly this intuition should be taken to affect the interpretation of future markers is not a straight-forward question. Indeed, whether is not a straightforward question either. The goal of this mini-course will be to review some of the arguments in this literature and try to walk away with a clear(er) sense of which aspects of the discussion are relevant for a natural language semanticist.

LingLunch 04/14 — Amy Rose Deal (UC Berkeley)

Speaker: Amy Rose Deal (UC Berkeley)
Title: Uncentered attitude reports
Time: Thursday 04/14, 12:30pm - 1:50pm
Place: 32-D461

One of the major discoveries in attitude semantics over the last thirty years has been the fact that certain types of attitude reports require interpretation de se. This finding has prompted a move among semanticists to treat attitude verbs as uniformly quantifying over centered worlds (typically modeled as triples of worlds, individuals, and times), rather than merely over possible worlds, and likewise a move to treat attitude complements as uniformly denoting sets of centered worlds, rather than mere sets of possible worlds. Thus, for instance, “A believes P” is true iff P holds of all triples <x,t,w> such that A believes that she might be x in w at t. Proponents of a De Se Uniformity Thesis of this type include Schlenker (1999), Ogihara (1999), von Stechow (2003), Anand (2006), Pearson (2015), and Grønn and von Stechow (2010). In this talk I present evidence against the De Se Uniformity Thesis, drawing from my fieldwork on Nez Perce (Sahaptian). I show that dedicated de se devices (shifty 1st person indexicals, relative tenses) are possible in one type of attitude report in Nez Perce, but not in another type, and argue that the difference between the two types of attitude report crucially reflects the semantics of the attitude verb and its complement. I argue in particular that some attitude complements provide sets of centered tuples, whereas others provide merely sets of possible worlds.

Link to paper: http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~ardeal/papers/Deal-uncentered-attitudes.pdf

Colloquium 4/15 - Ana Arregui (UMass Amherst)

Speaker: Ana Arregui (UMass Amherst)
Title: Revisiting indexical pronouns
Time: Friday, April 15th, 3:30pm - 5pm

Abstract: In this talk I will focus on some ‘deviant’ interpretations of indexical pronouns, discussing cases of descriptive indexicals noted by Nunberg (1993) as well as impersonal you. My goal is to explore parallelisms in reference to individuals across possible worlds as well as across situations within the same world. My hypothesis is that we can learn something about ‘deviant’ indexicals if we allow for similar modes of identification across and within possible worlds.