The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, October 9th, 2023

LF Reading Group 10/11 - Anastasia Tsilia (MIT)

Speaker: Anastasia Tsilia (MIT)
Title: The future in desire: the case of Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian
Time: Wednesday, October 11th, 1pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian behaves like a tenseless language, with no tense morphology on the verb stem; the context disambiguates between a present and a past tense interpretation. As in many tenseless languages (Bochnak, 2019), the future is obligatorily marked by an adverb or akan/bakal will'. We argue that mauwant’ can be used to mark the future as well, as in the following:

(1) Context: We are at a party, but it’s getting late. I need to leave. Sebenarnya aku nggak mau, tapi aku mau pulang sekarang ya. Actually I neg want but I fut go-home now ok `I don’t actually want to but I will go home now.’

We call this use of mau the future mau. Future mau can have a purely temporal use, is compatible with inanimate subjects, and with the negation of mau meaning want' (also spelled out as pengen). However, future mau cannot be directly negated. It is incompatible with clausemate negation, negative quantifiers, and with the implicit negation triggered by the alternatives ofonly’ (Rooth, 1985). Yet, it is compatible with negation in a higher clause, as well as with negation in yes/no questions. It thus seems that we cannot negate future mau directly, but we can negate the proposition that contains it. We discuss the empirical picture, as well as argue that there is a dispositional requirement associated with future mau, namely a requirement that the subject is disposed to causing the eventuality of the verb. Finally, we propose that mau as a modal (Sneddon, 2010; Jeoung, 2020) is the dispositional will (Copley, 2002), having the meaning of bakal will' enriched with a presupposition about the dispositions of its subject. We also propose a solution to the negation puzzle, arguing that future mau behaves as a PPI, and following New (2023) in positing two adjunction sites for auxiliaries, one below and one above negP; being a PPI, future mau can only attach to the higher adjunction site. All in all, we show that mau in Indonesian can either quantify over buletic alternatives or simply over accessible worlds likewill’, with its desire' component being turned into a dispositional presupposition, eliminating the need for an attitude holder. Indonesian shows thatwant’ can synchronically mean `will’, a change which is diachronically attested in many languages (Heine, 2017).

LingLunch 10/12 - Jon Rawski (MIT)

Speaker: Jon Rawski (MIT)
Title: A Computational Puzzle from Signed Reduplication
Time: Thursday, October 12th, 12:30pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: Reduplication is a cross-linguistically common yet computationally complex morphological copying process. Reduplication is far more ubiquitous and expressive in sign than in speech, regularly exhibiting partial and total copying, as well as triplication and other variants which are either very rare, unattested, or just impossible in spoken languages. Computationally, reduplication possesses linear growth (i.e. at most n copies, independent of the base form’s size), restricting it to the class of Regular functions in both weak and strong generative capacity (Rawski et al 2023, Dolatian et al 2021). This talk examines a unique signed phenomenon of “embedded” aspectual reduplication (Klima & Bellugi 1979, Wilbur 2009), where multiple copying processes compose within one another. This process is puzzling because it potentially allows polynomial growth, violating linearity. At issue is 1) whether regular functions are a necessary and sufficient condition for morphological computation, and 2) how representations and computations differ across speech and sign. I will argue that this embedded reduplication is still regular, since those functions are closed under composition. However, this depends on thorny issues like cyclicity, bounds on the number of copies, and how speakers vs signers represent the semantically-based input to reduplication. I will compare to spoken cases of repeated reduplication in Guébie, Tigre, and Runyankore, and discuss these issues.