The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, October 16th, 2023

Syntax Square 10/17 - Giovanni Roversi (MIT)

Speaker: Giovanni Roversi (MIT)
Title: Ā-extraction, Word Order, and Object Shift (?) in Äiwoo
Time: Tuesday, October 17th, 1pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: I will present some ongoing work in progress I’ve been doing on the clausal syntax of Äiwoo, an Austronesian language from the Solomon Islands. Largely, Äiwoo shows some reassuringly familiar Austronesian fare: the classic “pivot-only” restriction on Ā-extraction is respected, whereby only the agent can be extracted from Actor Voice clauses, only the theme from Undergoer Voice clauses, etc. Part of this talk will focus on a series of interesting exceptions to this restrictions. In particular, we’ll take a look at the complex correlation between different types of objects (DPs, null pronouns, overt pronouns, reflexive anaphors), clausal word order, and extraction possibilities. This will then lead us to reconsidering a known aspect of Austronesian voice, across many languages. A definite theme is normally banned in Actor Voice, and requires Undergoer Voice instead (“John built.{✗AV, ✓UV} this house”); however, this ban is lifted when Actor Voice is forced by external syntactic pressures, for example by Ā-extraction of the agent (“I met the man [who built.{✓AV, ✗UV} this house]”). Although this is a known fact in the Austronesian literature, and it’s easy enough to describe, I suggest it’s been underrated how complex it is to actually account for and implement it, and how a correct analysis of it might have bigger-picture implications for the syntax-semantics interface and the architecture of the grammar.

Colloquium 10/20 - Lucas Champollion (NYU)

Speaker: Lucas Champollion (NYU)
Title: The Limits of Possible Worlds Semantics
Time: Friday, October 20th, 3:30pm - 5pm
Location: 32-141

Abstract: The standard paradigm of possible world semantics fails to account for the subject-matter preserving nature of entailment and for discrepancies between connectives in propositional logic and in natural language. These discrepancies show up in empirical domains such as imperatives and counterfactuals. This calls for a paradigm shift towards a hyperintensional framework. I adopt unilateral truthmaker semantics in the sense of Fine (2017), with a concomitant move from intersective to collective conjunction. I conceptualize truthmakers as Davidsonian events. This yields a natural conception of negative events. I sketch an application to perception reports. (Partly based on joint work with Timothée Bernard.)

Kotek in panel for Careers in AI/ML for PhDs and Postdocs (10/19)

Hadas Kotek will be participating in a panel on careers in AI/ML on campus. It will take place Thursday 10/19, 4-6pm, at 1-190.