The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 10/14 - Magdalena Kaufmann (UConn)

Speaker: Magdalena Kaufmann (UConn)
Title: How to be impossible or remote
Friday October 14, 3:30pm

Abstract: Natural languages mark so-called subjunctive conditionals that allow speakers to specify consequences of states of affairs they present as unlikely or counterfactual. Different morphosyntactic strategies within and across languages show what often seem to be idiosyncratic interactions between temporal and modal information. Building on in-depth studies of individual languages and more fine-grained distinctions between types of hypotheticality, the recent literature sees a trend towards a distinction between unrealized past possibilities and co-temporal counterfactual states of affairs.

In this talk, I draw on novel data from Serbian (joint work with Neda Todorović) and German in comparison to English and Japanese (joint work with Stefan Kaufmann), to support this idea and develop a compositional analysis.