The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, May 8th, 2023

Exp/Comp 5/12: Ailis Cournane (NYU)

Invited speaker: Ailis Cournane (NYU)
Title of Talk: Testing modal force acquisition beyond the epistemic paradigm
Time: Friday, May 12, 2-3:30PM
Location: 32-D831 and on Zoom

Syntax Square 5/9 - Mitya Privoznov (MIT)

Speaker: Mitya Privoznov (MIT)
Title: Coordinate Structure Constraint, CED, and Spell Out
Time: Tuesday, May 9th, 1pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: It has been argued that in a coordinate construction, as in (1), the connective forms a constituent with the second conjunct: [X [and Y]] (see, e.g., Ross, 1967; Pesetsky, 1982).

(1) I [went home [and ate dinner]].

It has also been argued that the connective is the head of the coordinate structure (see, e.g., Melčuk, 1974; Paducheva, 1974; Paducheva and Zaliznyak, 1979; Munn, 1987, 1992, 1993; Larson, 1990; Johannessen, 1993, 1998; Citko, 2005; Zhang, 2010). In other words, in (1), when and is merged with ate dinner, and projects; and when went home is merged with and ate dinner, the latter projects. Thus, we arrive at the ConjP/CoP/&P structure with the second conjunct being the complement of and (Conj, Co, &) and the first one being a specifier of ConjP/CoP/&P. At the same time, since Ross (1967), it has been known that in most cases, in a coordinate structure, nothing can be extracted from either conjunct (Coordinate Structure Constraint, CSC). At the same time, Ross (1967) already points out certain systematic exceptions to CSC, which have been further discussed by Goldsmith (1985), Lakoff (1986) and Postal (1998), among others.

In this talk, I will propose a preliminary version of an analysis of coordinate structures like (1) which involves structural ambiguity. More precisely, I suggest that coordinate constructions, as in (1), are, in fact, ambiguous between three parses: (a) [XP=YP XP YP] structure (where both XP and YP are maximal projections); (b) [XP X’ YP] structure, originally proposed by Postal (1998), where the second conjunct is an adjunct to the first; and (c) ConjP/CoP/&P structure. Notably, the syntactic category (and the lexical semantics) of and is the same across all the three parses. The ambiguity is syntactic, though it may have pragmatic effects (cf. Bjorkman 2010, 2013, 2014, Bassi and Bondarenko 2021). I will present some preliminary evidence from Russian, which shows certain advantages of such an account in explaining: (a) the overt morphology of coordinate structures in Russian and potentially cross-linguistically; (b) the extraction properties of coordination and the “violable” status of CSC; (c) the presupposition projection profile of conjunction; (d) the distribution of overt connectives and group readings in Russian DP-conjunctions.

LingLunch 5/11 - Suzana Fong (Yale)

Speaker: Suzana Fong (Yale)
Title: A Wholesale Late Merge Theory of Control
Time: Thursday, May 11th, 12:30pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: Wholesale Late Merge (Takahashi & Hulsey 2009) consists in countercyclically merging the restrictor with an operator that had been previously merged into the derivation. The Movement Theory of Control (Hornstein 1999), in turn, is a theory of control according to which there is no dedicated control module in the grammar; rather, obligatory control is the byproduct of moving a DP through more than one thematic position. In this nascent project, I entertain the consequence of combining these two independent theories. The result can be dubbed ‘Wholesale Late Merge Theory of Control’, whereby obligatory control is the consequence of early merging a D in the embedded clause, moving it into a thematic position in the matrix clause, upon which point, an NP is countercyclically WLM-ed. If correct, this theory accounts for three asymmetries between raising and control that are not expected in the simplest version of the MTC, namely, (i) the fact that control, unlike raising, does not reconstruct, (ii) the lack of case connectivity in Icelandic control, and (iii) the enforcement of anti-pronominality effects in control, which are absent in raising. Additionally, the early merged D provides an apt model for instances of obligatory control PRO that are realized as an overt pronoun.

Minicourse 5/8, 5/10: Yoad Winter (Utrecht University)

Speaker: Yoad Winter, Utrecht University
Title: The Semantics of Reciprocity
Time: Monday, May 8, 1-2:30pm and Wednesday, May 10, 1-2.30pm
Location: 32-D461
This mini-course overviews the cross-linguistic semantics of reciprocity. We start from the semantics of reciprocal operators (‘each other’), and concentrate on the adaptive approach to their meaning emanating from (Dalrymple et al. 1998). After that introduction, we focus on reciprocal predicates (‘meet’, ‘hug’, ‘friend’), their effects on logical symmetry (Rxy=Ryx), and interactions with theories of concepts. We will introduce an experimentally-based typicality model that accounts for the lexical semantic generalizations about reciprocal predicates and their different theta roles. Further, we characterize lexical and grammatical in Romance languages, showing that Romance exhibits reciprocity phenomena similar to English, despite their silent expression under SE clitics that also serve other arity reduction processes besides reciprocity (reflexivity, anti-causativity). The role of SE as a marker rather than a reciprocal operator is uncovered through this analysis.

24.S95 Class Presentations

Students in 24.S95 Linguistics in K-12 Education will make public presentations about their work on Wednesday, May 10th, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm in the 8th Floor Conference Room 32-D831. To accommodate people’s schedules, they will repeat their presentations later the same day from 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm, in 26-142. 

The students will talk about their diverse experiences designing and teaching linguistics lessons for middle school and high school students. 


The 41st West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 41) was held at the University of California, Santa Cruz on May 5-7, 2023. The following members of our community presented at the conference:

  • Haoming Li (1st year), Zhouyi Sun (1st year): Mandarin Clausal Comparatives Involve Standard Embedding
  • Giovanni Roversi (3rd year): Adjectival “concord” in North Sámi is not concord (and it’s two different phenomena)
  • Janek Guerrini (visiting student): Kind predication, flavors of genericity, and cumulativity

A number of alums-friends also gave talks and posters:

  • Michela Ippolito (PhD, 2002), Angelika Kiss, Will Williams: Discourse only
  • Michela Ippolito (PhD, 2002), Zahra Mirrazi: Modal Past is Past: Evidence from non-SOT langauges
  • Seth Cable (PhD, 2007), James Crippen: Stative marking in Tlingit: Evidence from the complexity of states
  • Andrew Hedding, Michelle Yuan (PhD, 2018): Phase unlocking and the derivation of verb-initiality in San Martin Peras Mixtex
  • Ken Hiraiwa (PhD, 2005), Kimiko Nakanishi: Disjunction as question: Disjunction is not a PPI in Japanese
  • Ivona Kučerová (PhD 2007) and Alan Munn: Beyond ϕ-features: Are we there yet? Agree reconsidered
  • Colin Davis (PhD, 2020): Anti-locality explains the restricted interaction of subjects and parasitic gaps
  • Colin Davis (PhD, 2020), David Diem: Doubling by movement within and from PP in Alemannic German 
  • Yağmur Sağ, Ömer Demirok (PhD 2019), Muhammet Bal: Subject pseudo-incorporation in Laz
  • Abdul-Razak Sulemana (PhD, 2021): Passive without morphology: a case for implicit arguments


Taking advantage of the first warm spring day this past Sunday, our student representatives organized an afternoon of kayaking on the River Charles! As the semester winds down and as warmer days approach, we look forward to more social events such as these in the department.