The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

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.’