The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LF Reading Group 2/21 - Yurika Aonuki (MIT)

Speaker: Yurika Aonuki (MIT)
Title: Degree constructions in Gitksan
Time: Wednesday, February 21st, 1pm – 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: I will present my ongoing work on degree constructions in Gitksan (Ts’imshianic; see Rigsby 1986 and Bicevskis et al. 2017 for previous documentation). Based on the availability of comparative and superlative interpretations of positive forms as well as the obligatory differential readings of co-occurring measure phrases in positive constructions, I argue that gradable adjectives take a differential degree as an argument (1), which builds on Oda’s (2008) analysis of Japanese (see also Beck et al. 2004).

(1) [[‘tall’]] = λd. λx. λd. Height(x) ≥ d + d

An alternative account assuming a covert comparative or superlative opera- tor is ruled out by additional data showing that the comparative and superlative readings of positive constructions are unavailable with minimum-standard predicates. In addition, what appears to be a standard phrase in comparatives only indirectly determines the standard degree (see Hohaus 2015). Finally, as my analysis predicts, constructions with relative adjectives always involve comparison; those that do not involve such comparison, such as degree questions and absolute measurements, require a nominalizer, which I analyze as saturating the standard degree argument of a gradable adjective with a zero degree.