Whamit!

The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 2/26 - Byron Ahn  

Speaker: Byron Ahn (Boston University)
Title: Giving Reflexivity a Voice
Time: Thurs 2/26, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

Reflexive anaphora is not a homogeneous category whose members are licensed in a single uniform way. This talk highlights the formal properties of Local Subject-Oriented Reflexivity (LSOR), in which a reflexive anaphor’s antecedent must be the local subject. In languages across the world, LSOR is subject to a number of syntactic constraints, and is expressed differently from other types of reflexivity.

I show that the attested range of morphosyntactic configurations for LSOR arise from the same basic structural source. In particular, LSOR derivations involve two atoms of reflexivity:

(i) a semantic reflexivizer (associated with a unique grammatical Voice head, REFL), and
(ii) a reflexive anaphor which syntactic movement (triggered by that same REFL Voice)

Moreover, the same two atoms are reflexivity are active in English. For this reason, English also exhibits the same LSOR/non-LSOR split, though the difference manifests in the prosodic component: LSOR anaphors in English do not bear phrasal stress (while non-LSOR anaphors do). This is derived with a Nuclear Stress Rule based upon syntactic hierarchy (and not linearization) that is couched in a multiple spell-out architecture of grammar (e.g., Cinque 1993 and Zubizarreta 1998).

Local Subject-Oriented Reflexivity is implicated as a central aspect of reflexivity, across languages, and when such a distinction is not entirely (morphologically) apparent, closer investigation can elucidate it. Finally, LSOR, its grammatical properties, as well as its possible morphosyntactic instantiations, simply fall out from the general architecture of Language.

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February 23rd, 2015

Posted in Talks

LFRG 2/23 - Ayaka Sugawara  

Speaker: Ayaka Sugawara
Time: Monday 2/23, 12-1:30pm
Place: 32-D831
Title: Acquisition of quantifier scope: Evidence from English Rise-Fall-Rise

Since Musolino (1998), many studies have reported that children trend to interpret sentences such as in (1a) to mean the LF illustrated in (1b), not the LF in (1c), which adults do not have trouble accessing (Musolino et al. 2000, Musolino & Lidz 2006, Viau et al. 2010, a.o.).

(1) a. Every house didn’t jump over the fence.
b. For every horse x, x did not jump over the fence.
c. It is not the case that for every house x, x jumped over the fence.

Meanwhile, at least since Jespersen (1933) it has been pointed out that different prosodic contours will/can differentiate readings in such sentences (Jackendoff 1972, Büring 1997, 2003, Constant 2012, 2014 a.o.; Cf. Ward and Hirschberg 1985). Specifically, sentences with L+H* on the Contrastive Topic (ALL in (2b)) and L-H% on the IntP (sentence-final in (2b)) will only have the reading where negation takes scope over the universal quantifier. (I will refer to the contour for (2b) as Rise-Fall-Rise, following Constant 2012.)

(2) a. All my friends didn’t come.
b. ALL my friends didn’t come…

In this experiment with children (Picture-selection Task), I investigate whether children are sensitive to the difference in prosody that conveys different readings. The results show that children are indeed sensitive - with “Falling” contour where the sentence-final L-H% is not observed, children picked pictures with “not>all (and some)” over “all>not” pictures 30% of the time, on the other hand with “Rise-Fall-Rise” contour, children picked “not>all (and some)” pictures over “all>not” pictures 70% of the time.

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February 23rd, 2015

Posted in Talks

Phonology Circle 2/23 - Discussion of the Agreement by Correspondence model  

Date: Monday, February 23th
Time: 5-6:30
Place: 32-D461

In preparation for Gunnar Hansson’s colloquium talk, third-year student Juliet Stanton will lead a discussion of the basics of the Agreement by Correspondence model, and how it can be extended to account for dissimilation.

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February 23rd, 2015

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Syntax Square 2/24 - Lotte Hendricks  

Speaker: Lotte Hendricks (Meertens Instituut)
Title: Knowledge of verb clusters
Date/Time:Tuesday, Febrary 24, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

Speakers are able to judge syntactic constructions that are not part of their own language variety. When they are asked to rank a number of variants of such a construction on a scale, this ranking turns out to be parallel to the geographic frequency distribution of these variants. We consider three possible explanations for this striking fact, based on (i) processing, (ii) familiarity and (iii) the syntactic system. We argue that only the third option can explain the behavior of the speakers.

We discuss two aspects of verb clusters that exhibit variation in the Dutch dialects: the order of the verbs in the cluster and interruption of the verb cluster by non-verbal material.

There is much variation in the order of the verbs in the cluster in (1); (cf. Barbiers 2005; SAND Volume II, Barbiers et al. 2008). While all varieties of Dutch have verb cluster constructions, we find a clear geographic distribution of different orderings across the language area, with differences in frequency of occurrence.

Verb cluster interruption shows a lot of geographical variation too, here with respect to the type of constituent that can interrupt the cluster, varying from particles (moet op-bellen ‘must up-call’) to various types of arguments (moet een schuur bouwen ‘must a barn built’) and adverbs (moet vroeg opstaan ‘must early rise’) (cf. SAND Volume II). Two factors turn out to be relevant, the complexity of the interrupting constituent and the position in the syntactic hierarchy (in the sense of Cinque 1999) where this element is base-generated (Hendriks 2014).

The clear geographic distribution of the various variants of these two constructions makes it possible to investigate if speakers have intuitions on variants that occur in language varieties different from their own.

We find a high degree of correspondence between the speakers’ rankings and the number of locations in the Dutch language area that have a particular construction. (i) verb cluster orders that are more frequent amongst the varieties of Dutch are ranked higher and (ii) speakers in areas where verb cluster interruptions are only used sporadically and with many restrictions, nevertheless have intuitions that correspond to the observed syntactic patterns in the Flemish varieties of Dutch.

We demonstrate that processing preferences and familiarity with the phenomenon cannot account for the observed correspondence between speakers’ intuitions of a construction and that constructions’ geographic distribution. Potentially, the intuitions follow from properties of the grammatical system.

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February 23rd, 2015

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Colloquium 2/27 - Gunnar Hansson  

Speaker: Gunnar Hansson (UBC)
Title: Learning Long-Distance Phonotactics: Dissimilation, Assimilation and Correspondence
Date: Friday, February 27th
Time: 3:30-5:00p
Place: 32-141

In current phonological theory, the leading constraint-based approach to modelling long-distance consonant assimilation is Agreement by Correspondence (ABC; Walker 2000, Hansson 2001/2010, Rose & Walker 2004). In the ABC model, long-distance agreement is dependent on an abstract, and in principle covert, correspondence relation that carves up the surface string into sets of corresponding segments (equivalence classes) in ways negotiated by ranked and violable constraints. Some of these (CORR constraints) demand that similar segments stand in correspondence, while others (CC-Limiter constraints) can curtail correspondence by demanding that pairs of correspondents obey certain criteria. However, there is reason for skepticism as to whether the formal machinery of the ABC model has adequate empirical support, in particular its fundamental notion that similarity-based agreement is a mediated effect (similarity-based correspondence; correspondence-based agreement). The factorial typology of ABC generates many unattested patterns that are highly suspect, while other attested and formally simple patterns become hard to capture; various proposed amendments merely highlight underlying flaws in the overall architecture. Recently the implications of the ABC model for consonant dissimilation have been explored in detail by Bennett (2013, 2014), who identifies a number of “mismatch predictions” whereby the typologies of dissimilation and harmony should be opposites of one another. I will report on a series of artificial grammar learning experiments (in collaboration with Kevin McMullin) which investigate how inductive biases and heuristics affect the learning of nonadjacent phonotactic dependencies between consonants. The central question is what implicational relationships, if any, learners assume to hold between “transvocalic” consonant pairs (…CVC…) and pairs separated by greater distance. Some of these experiments follow a poverty-of-stimulus paradigm, testing how learners generalize in the absence of overt evidence (cf. Wilson 2006, Finley & Badecker 2009, Finley 2011, 2012), whereas others are designed to provide explicit evidence for patterns of questionable status (cf. Lai 2012, White 2014). The findings suggest that, with respect to the hypothesis space, learners treat dissimilatory dependencies and assimilatory dependencies (harmony) equivalently, in ways that run counter to predictions of the ABC model. I will outline future studies that aim to clarify the formal nature of “transvocalic” locality: whether the relevant criterion is syllable-adjacency (Odden 1994, Rose & Walker 2004, Bennett 2013) or adjacency on a consonantal tier (Hansson 2010, McMullin & Hansson 2014).
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February 23rd, 2015

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Syntax Square 2/17 -Michelle Yuan  

Speaker: Michelle Yuan (MIT)
Title: Two tiers of case assignment in Yimas
Date/Time:Tuesday, November 17, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D831 (note exceptional location!)

Under the Marantzian (1991) model of case assignment, dependent case is assigned configurationally and on the basis of competition. In this talk, I examine the case and agreement system of Yimas (Lower Sepik; Papua New Guinea; data from Foley 1991) and argue that, while Yimas supports the fundamentals of this system, it also necessitates an extension of it. In Yimas, ERG and DAT behave like dependent cases, realized only in the presence of a case competitor. However, dependent case is determined over a series of optionally-present verbal agreement clitics, not over the arguments they cross-reference (i.e. clitics are case competitors for other clitics). The realization of dependent case thus hinges on the number of clitics hosted by the verb, not the number of arguments present in the syntax. The puzzle that this talk addresses is how dependent case comes to be realized over the clitics.

I argue that this can be resolved under a two-tiered system of case assignment. First, I show that there is reason to posit that the overt nominals are being assigned abstract case (NOM for subjects and ACC for objects) in the syntax, though this is obfuscated by the zero spell-out of both NOM and ACC (see Legate 2008 on ABS=DEF languages). The doubled clitics encode both the phi-features and abstract case features of their associated arguments. In the morphological component, dependent case realization is calculated over the series of verbal clitics; subject clitics are ERG in the presence of a case competitor and NOM (=ABS) otherwise, while object clitics are DAT in the presence of a case competitor and ACC (=ABS) otherwise.

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February 17th, 2015

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Phonology Circle 2/17 - Donca Steriade  

Speaker: Donca Steriade (MIT)
Title: The Tribrach Law
Date: Tuesday, February 17th
Time: 5-6:30
Place: 32-D461

In a 1884 paper, Saussure sketched the evidence for a rhythmic constraint operating in prehistoric Greek, whose effect was to eliminate non-final sequences of three light syllables. Saussure called it la loi du tribraque, the tribrach law (abbbrev. TL; tribrach = three lights). The TL is interesting in several ways. It’s typologically unusual. It employs, in Greek, a wide range of solutions, from vowel lengthening to syncope, to ineffability and violation of morphological exponence constraints. It is a rhythmic phenomenon that’s easier to interpret in a foot–free theory of metrical prominence, than in a foot-based one. Finally, a closer look at the evidence shows that the TL was still alive in 5th cent. Attic, but morphologically limited: Saussure was thinking as a neogrammarian when he denied TL’s survival in historical Greek. Once we realize that TL continues to operate in historical times, it turns into the most reliable evidence available to determine the weight of different consonant clusters in Greek. This has consequences for the analysis of reduplication and for our understanding of the ways in which weight is computed.

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February 17th, 2015

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Ling Lunch 2/19 - Marie-Christine Meyer  

Speaker: Marie-Christine Meyer (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Title: Redundancy and Embedded Exhaustification
Time: Thurs 2/19, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

In this talk we are going to look at some of the most recent developments in the area of embedded exhaustification, by which I mean the insertion of a grammatical operator exh as one possible mechanism to derive embedded implicatures (see e.g. Sauerland 2010, 2012 for others). As recently as 2009 (Geurts&Pouscoulos), the mere existence of embedded implicatures has been disputed. On the other hand, the last decade has seen various successful applications of (embedded) exhaustification, ranging from polarity sensitivity (Chierchia 2004 et seq.) and Free Choice (Fox 2007, Meyer 2014b) to surface redundant disjunctions (Chierchia,Fox&Spector 2012, Gajewski&Sharvit 2012,Meyer 2014a, Mayr&Romoli 2014). However, these contributions concentrate on what embedded exhaustification can do, and background the old question of what it can not do, and why not (e.g. Horn 1989). I propose that, for starters, embedded exhaustification cannot violate the Gricean maxim of Brevity. Departing from a formalization of this idea, we will see how it addresses Horn’s old question and related challenges currently discussed (Fox&Spector 2014, Spector 2014): What happens in downward-entailing environments? — e.g., Mary didn’t talk to Bill or Sue (*or both) Why are some, but not all logically redundant disjuncts acceptable? — e.g., Mary either studied physics, or (she didn’t and) she studied math. Why do certain embedded implicatures have to be marked phonologically? — e.g., Mary didn’t study math OR physics.

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February 17th, 2015

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Colloquium 2/20 - Sigrid Beck (Tübingen)  

Speaker: Sigrid Beck (Tübingen)
Title: Readings of ‘noch’ (still)
Date: Friday, February 20th
Time: 3:30-5:00p
Place: 32-141

The talk develops an analysis of the particle ‘noch’, the German counterpart of ‘still’. These particles can give rise to a lot of different readings, making it hard to figure out their semantic contribution (e.g. ‘Washington still wore a wig’). The literature has analysed ‘noch/still’ as focus sensitive and ambiguous. I suggest that it is not focus sensitive, and I try to propose just one lexical entry to account for the different readings that sentences with ‘noch/still’ can have.
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February 17th, 2015

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Syntax Square 2/10 - Martin Walkow  

Speaker: Martin Walkow (MIT)
Title: Locating variation in person restrictions: When they arise and how to get out of them
Date/Time:Tuesday, November 10, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

Two analyses have emerged from work on variation in person based restrictions on agreement and cliticization. Cyclic Agree analyses (Bejar 2003,Bejar & Rezac 2009) locate the variation in (i) the feature specification of probes, (ii) the syntactic position of probes, and as a function thereof, (ii) the locality pattern of Agree. On the other hand, Multiple Agree analyses (Anagnostopoulou 2005, Nevins 2007, 2011) assume that both the specification of the probes and the locality pattern are constant, but that variation arises from the availability of different syntactic operations in different languages. Nevins (2007, 2011) in particular argues that the operation MultipleAgree is parameterized differently in different languages.

The two approaches have not been applied to the same data though. While Cyclic Agree has been applied to variation in person-restrictions between subjects and objects, Multiple Agree has been applied to restrictions on combinations of internal arguments known as the Person Case Constraint (PCC, Bonet 1994). This talk shows that Cyclic Agree can also account for the variation between two kinds of PCC, the Strong PCC (Bonet 1994) and the Ultrastrong PCC (Nevins 2007) via different specifications of the probe. Key to the analysis is the observation that the PCC can be understood as the lower direct object (DO) bleeding person Agree with the higher recipient, the reverse of what is typically assumed.

Cyclic Agree’s flexibility of deriving person restrictions in different syntactic structures also offers a better understanding of a second type of variation. Languages that show the same types of PCC can differ in the alternative strategies they use to realize person combinations banned by the PCC. This is demonstrated for Catalan (Bonet 1991) and Classical Arabic, which both show have strong and ultrastrong PCC speakers but differ in the which argument is targeted for alternative realization in PCC-violating person combinations. This difference will be derived from the different underlying structures in which the PCC arrises in the two languages.

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February 9th, 2015

Posted in Talks

LFRG 2/10 - Wataru Uegaki  

Speaker: Wataru Uegaki (MIT)
Title: Interpreting questions under attitudes
Date: Tuesday, February 10th
Time: 5-6:30
Place: 32-D831

Since Karttunen (1977), interpretations of embedded questions have played a central role in the development of the semantics of questions. One of the important observations in this domain is that interpretations of embedded questions vary depending on the type of embedding attitude predicates. More specifically, cognitive attitude predicates like “know” prefer strongly-exhaustive interpretations of their interrogative complements (Groenendijk & Stokhof 1984) while emotive factives like “surprise” and “be happy” only allow weakly-exhaustive interpretations (Heim 1994, a.o). Also, Égré & Spector (2007, to appear) argue that the class of predicates that are veridical with respect to interrogative-embedding are precisely the class of predicate that are factive with respect to declarative-embedding. Despite the rich literature on embedded questions, however, there has been no account that succeeds in predicting both their exhaustivity and veridicality given the lexical semantics of embedding predicates. In this talk, I propose a theory of question-embedding that is properly constrained to achieve this prediction.

My analysis of exhaustivity is based on a reformulation of Klinedinst and Rothschild’s (2011) analysis of the so-called intermediate exhaustivity. Under this analysis, matrix exhaustification derives intermediate exhaustivity, but the exhaustification is vacuous when the embedding predicate is non-monotonic. Strong exhaustivity is argued to be pragmatically derived from intermediate exhaustivity. Thus, exhaustivity of embedded questions depends on the monotonicity property of embedding predicates, which I argue to be the relevant property distinguishing between cognitive attitude predicates and emotive factives.

Building on Uegaki (to appear), I further analyze declarative-embedding as a special, trivial, case of question-embedding. Under this analysis, factivity is derived as a limiting case of veridicality, providing a natural explanation for Égré & Spector’s generalization (cf. Theiler 2014). The analysis will then be extended to mention-some readings, including George’s (2011) “non-reducibility” puzzle. I will conclude by discussing several open questions concerning the syntax and semantics of attitude predicates and interrogatives in general.

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February 9th, 2015

Posted in Talks

MIT Linguistics Colloquium Schedule, Spring 2015  

The colloquium series talks are held on Fridays at 3:30pm. Please check the Colloquium webpage for any updates.

  • February 6: Kristine Yu, UMass Amherst
  • February 20: Sigrid Beck, Tübingen
  • February 27: Gunnar Hansson, UBC
  • March 6: Richard Larson, Stony Brook University
  • April 17: Aditi Lahiri, University of Oxford, Somerville College
  • April 24: Ming Xiang, University of Chicago
  • May 1: Nina Topintzi, Aristotle University of Thessalonik
  • May 8: Jessica Coon, McGill University
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    February 2nd, 2015

    Posted in Talks

    Ling Lunch - 2/5 - Despoina Oikonomou  

    Speaker: Despoina Oikonomou (MIT)
    Title: C-Negation is not Constituent Negation but CP-Negation: Evidence from Modern Greek
    Time: Thurs 2/5, 12:30-1:45
    Place: 32-D461

    Abstract: C-Negation is not Constituent Negation but CP-Negation: Evidence from Modern Greek

    Please join us for our first Ling Lunch this semester!

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    February 2nd, 2015

    Posted in Talks

    Colloquium 2/6 - Kristine Yu (UMass)  

    Speaker: Kristine Yu (UMass)
    Title: Tonal marking of absolutive case in Samoan
    Date: Friday, January 6th
    Time: 3:30-5:00p
    Place: 32-141

    This paper argues that the ergative-marking Austronesian language Samoan has a high boundary tone that occurs on the last mora of the word preceding an absolutive argument, and that the source of this tone is inflectional morphology and not lexical representations, pragmatics, syntax, semantics, or phonology. In short, the claim is that Samoan has an absolutive high boundary tone case morpheme. This claim is surprising for two reasons. First, Samoan is not a tone language. Second, regardless of the source of the absolutive tone, positing it: (1) introduces a boundary paradox since it groups an absolutive case head with the prosodic constituent preceding the absolutive argument, and (2) implies that the presence of an absolutive induces a new phonological constituent. Nevertheless, I show that inflectional morphology must be the source of the absolutive high tone based on a converging body of evidence from: (1) the distribution of the rarely discussed ia particle that optionally precedes absolutive arguments and (2) the phonetic and phonological analysis of intonational patterns in the spoken utterances of a systematically varied set of syntactic structures. I also address the puzzles that the presence of an absolutive tonal case morpheme in Samoan raises.
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    February 2nd, 2015

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    Phonology Circle 12/15 - Sam Zukoff  

    Speaker: Sam Zukoff
    Title: Repetition Avoidance Effects in Indo-European Reduplication
    Date: Dec. 15 (M)
    Time: 5 - 6:30
    Location: 32D-461

    Fleischhacker 2005 develops a theory of cluster-reduction under partial reduplication based on principles of perceptual similarity. The Indo-European languages Ancient Greek, Gothic, and Sanskrit, each of which have a default CV- prefixal reduplication pattern, play significant roles in demonstrating the typology predicted by her theory. In each of these languages, there are differences in copying patterns in reduplicative categories dependent on the sonority profile of initial clusters, generally with stop + sonorant clusters patterning with single-consonant-initial roots to the exclusion of obstruent + obstruent roots, which undergo some special treatment.

    In this paper, I propose that the primary data from these languages admits also of an account based on repetition avoidance in poorly-cued contexts. The proposal hinges on the idea that local repetition of consonants is perceptually dispreferred (Walter 2007), and this dispreference is exacerbated when the second consonant lacks significant phonetic cues. Stop + sonorant sequences pattern with consonant + vowel sequences because both contexts permit significant phonetic cues to the root-initial consonant to surface, whereas fewer cues are available to the root-initial consonant in other environments.

    This account yields equivalently satisfactory explanation of the basic Ancient Greek and Gothic facts, but allows for more complete coverage of the Sanskrit facts. There are two relevant patterns that do not follow directly from a similarity-based approach: (i) root-initial s-stop clusters copy the stop, contrary to normal leftmost copying, and (ii) certain CVC roots in categories where the root vowel is deleted show a vowel change rather than reduplication. The first type can be accommodated with Fleischhacker’s theory, but admittedly does not follow from principles of similarity. The latter type is not discussed by Fleischhacker, and does not obviously follow from her account. Both of these patterns can be analyzed in the repetition avoidance framework as avoidance strategies for what would be poorly-cued environments if reduplicated normally. A pattern almost exactly equivalent to the CVC pattern in Sanskrit can be reconstructed for an earlier stage of Gothic, providing an explanation for the Germanic “Class V” preterite plurals (Sandell & Zukoff 2014).

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    December 15th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 12/15 - Chris O’Brien  

    Speaker: Chris O’Brien (MIT)
    Title: How to get off an island
    Date/Time: Monday December 15, 12:30-1:45
    Location: 32-D461

    Note the special date.

    The grammar, it has been argued, possesses strategies for bypassing syntactic islands. Based on the selective island (SI) phenomenon, Cinque (1990) and Postal (1998) argue for a resumptive pronoun strategy for extraction from islands. Bachrach & Katzir (2009) argue that multiple dominance obviates islandhood, via a delayed Spellout (DS) mechanism. We argue that both SIs and DS islands arise from the same source, and that DS is the sole mechanism for escaping islands in wh-movement. Fox & Pesetsky’s (2009) implementation of DS and Johnson’s (2010) theory of movement conspire to predict the effects of the resumptive pronoun strategy in both sharing, and non-sharing, contexts; as well as why SI effects emerge in leftward, but not rightward, movement (Postal 1998).
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    December 15th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 12/15 - Chris O’Brien  

    Speaker: Chris O’Brien (MIT)
    Title: How to get off an island
    Date/Time: Monday December 15, 12:30-1:45
    Location: 32-D461

    Note the special date.

    The grammar, it has been argued, possesses strategies for bypassing syntactic islands. Based on the selective island (SI) phenomenon, Cinque (1990) and Postal (1998) argue for a resumptive pronoun strategy for extraction from islands. Bachrach & Katzir (2009) argue that multiple dominance obviates islandhood, via a delayed Spellout (DS) mechanism. We argue that both SIs and DS islands arise from the same source, and that DS is the sole mechanism for escaping islands in wh-movement. Fox & Pesetsky’s (2009) implementation of DS and Johnson’s (2010) theory of movement conspire to predict the effects of the resumptive pronoun strategy in both sharing, and non-sharing, contexts; as well as why SI effects emerge in leftward, but not rightward, movement (Postal 1998).
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    December 8th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 12/8 - Adam Albright  

    Speaker: Adam Albright (MIT)
    Title: Faithfulness to non-contrastive phonetic properties in Lakhota
    Date: Monday, December 8
    Time: 5 - 6:30
    Location: 32D-461
    Abstract: OCP12-Albright-NonAnonymous

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    December 8th, 2014

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    ESSL/LacqLab 12/10 - Ito Masuyo  

    Speaker: Ito Masuyo (Fukuoka University/MIT)
    Title: Japanese-speaking children’s interpretation of sentences containing the focus particle datte ‘even’: QUD or processing limitations
    Date: Wednesday, December 10th
    Time: 3:00p
    Place: 32-D831

    In this talk, I will talk about the acquisition of ‘even’ in Japanese. I will focus on the following: 1) the properties of the focus particle datte ‘even’ in Japanese; 2) whether Japanese-speaking children are able to interpret sentences containing ‘even’ as adults do; and if not, QUD or processing considerations can facilitate children’s performance.

    The results show that children can calculate information strength associated with datte sentences when the task does not require them to construct and maintain alternative representations. Examining whether or not QUD relevance and processing considerations apply to datte sentence implicatures as they do to SIs allows re-examination of the nature of implicatures datte generates. I aim to contribute to experimental studies on pragmatics, especially those on EVEN, conventional implicature and SI.

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    December 8th, 2014

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    Colloquium 12/12 - Tim Stowell  

    Speaker: Tim Stowell (UCLA)
    Title: Adverbial Complexes
    Date: Friday, December 12th
    Time: 3:30-5:00p
    Place: 32-141

    I will discuss the syntactic derivation of parenthetical qualified adjunct phrases like the underscored example in (i):

    (i) Mitt drank two bottles of gin last night, unfortunately rather quickly.

    The adverbial complex consists of two adverbial phrases (AdvPs), one of which evaluates, or qualifies, the other. The adverbial complex forms a distinct intonational phrase, as is typical of parenthetical constituents. Within the complex, nuclear (or focal) stress falls on the head of the qualified AdvP (rather quíckly). The entire complex has the force of an independent secondary assertion, similar to that of the underscored paratactic clauses in (ii):

    (ii) Mitt drank two bottles of gin last night;
    unfortunately he drank them rather quickly.
    unfortunately he did it/this/so rather quickly.

    I will defend an ellipsis analysis of the adverbial complexes in (i), modeled on Jason Merchant’s account of sluicing and sentence fragment constructions. This involves a combination of extraction and TP ellipsis. Assuming a source structure resembling one of the paratactic clauses in (ii), the qualified AdvP (rather quickly) is extracted from the TP and moved to a position below the qualifying AdvP (unfortunately). The remnant TP is then elided, with the host clause providing the antecedent TP. Although I refer to this as TP ellipsis, the precise hierarchical level of the elided material is tricky to pin down, mainly because of more complex examples.

    In (i) both AdvPs are ‘integrated’ within the complex adjunct, and occur in the same linear and hierarchical order that they would occur in as integrated AdvPs in main clauses. In (iii), the order of the two AdvPs within the complex is inverted:

    (iii) The rebels have been defeated—decisively, perhaps.

    In (iii), nuclear stress still falls on the qualified AdvP (decisively). I will discuss the derivation of the inverted order, which also occurs in main clauses. The chief candidates are (i) right-adjunction of the qualifying AdvP via initial merge; (ii) movement (of one or the other AdvPs within the adverbial complex) or (iii) an additional instance of TP ellipsis within the elided TP.

    Like simple adverbs (both integrated and parenthetical) and Slifting remnants, adverbial complexes (with or without internal inversion) can be ‘niched’ within the host clause.

    (iv) Napoleon, probably deliberately, insulted his host.

    The analysis of niching is also problematic. While not resolving this decisively, I will point out that niching turns out to depend on the placement of nuclear (or focal) stress on the preceding constituent in the host clause.

    Adverbial complexes also provide evidence bearing on the familiar problem of identity in ellipsis structures. In (v) the ‘qualifying’ frequency adverb often gives rise to a quantificational variability effect; I argue that this implicates a definite source for the elided counterpart of the indefinite object DP in the host clause:

    (v) Janet has performed over a hundred autopsies, often incompetently.

    More complex adverbial complexes are also possible, with both inverted and un-inverted orders:

    (vi) Mitt drank the whole bottle, I think probably again unintentionally.
    (vii) Mitt drank the whole bottle, unintentionally, again, probably, I think.

    The existence of complex adverbial complexes like (vi) provides further evidence supporting the ellipsis approach, but also complicates the problem of determining the identity of the elided constituent. The inverse ordering effect visible in (vi) vs. (vii) takes us back to the question of how the inverted order is derived. To derive the inverse order via leftward movement of the qualified AdvP, one would need a roll-up derivation of the sort advocated by Cinque in his account of integrated adverb order, and by Koopman and Szabolcsi in their account of Hungarian and Germanic verbal complexes. Our parenthetical adverbial complexes, however, seem to allow for far more ordering options than would be expected under such an approach, suggesting that these adverbial complexes may involve multiple applications of ellipsis.

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    December 8th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 12/1 - Gretchen Kern (postponed to next semester)  

    Speaker: Gretchen Kern
    Title: Syllables or Intervals? Welsh cynghanedd lusg rhymes
    Date/Time: 1 Dec. (M), 5:00 - 6:30
    Location: 32D-461

    This talk will present my data and some preliminary analysis on my ongoing work on cynghanedd lusg, a type of line-internal, word-internal rhyme in Welsh poetry, based on a corpus of the works of Dafydd ap Gwilym. In these rhymes, the stressed penultimate vowel of a polysyllabic line-final word (and some number of following consonants) will correspond to the final vowel and any following consonants of a word earlier in the line.

    (1) Ganed o’i fodd er goddef (Credo, line 25)

    In many examples, the rhyme domain consists of the entire interval (even in consonant clusters) but some will have unanswered consonants in the line-final word:

    2) a. Mi a wn blas o lasgoed (Merch Gyndyn, line 31)
    b. I waered yn grwm gwmpas, (Gwahodd Dyddgu, line25)
    c. ‘Nychlyd fardd, ni’th gâr harddfun, (Cyngor y Bioden, line65)

    This is similar, but not exactly like skaldic rhyme, where the unanswered consonants appear in the word on the left (3c):

    (3) a. hann rekkir lið bannat (from Háttatal, by Sturluson)
    b. ungr stillir sá, milli (via Ryan 2010:5)
    c. Gandvíkr, jǫfurr, landi

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    December 1st, 2014

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    Ling Lunch 12/04 - Heidi Klockmann  

    Speaker: Heidi Klockmann (MIT/Utrecht)
    Title:Case, Agreement, and Hierarchies: Fitting in Inherent Case
    Date/Time: Thursday, December 4, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    In this talk, I consider the variation found in systems of case and agreement cross-linguistically, focusing specifically on languages which show accusativity or ergativity in their case or agreement. There are in principle four language types, for which it has been claimed that only three exist (cf. Bobaljik 2008): ergative case with ergative agreement (e.g. Hindi, Gojri), ergative case with accusative agreement (e.g. Nepali, Bantawa), accusative case with accusative agreement (e.g. Polish), and accusative case with ergative agreement (the gap). I present data from the case-agreement systems of these languages, as well as a discussion of the nature of structural and inherent case assignment. I propose that inherent case is actually the realization of some form of a P-head and that languages can differ in their inventory of P-headed cases. I treat these PP-cases as being generally opaque to external processes, such as agreement (see Rezac 2008), and show how this assumption can be used to model the case-agreement systems discussed here.
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    December 1st, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 11/24 - Angela Carpenter  

    Speaker: Angela Carpenter, Wellesley College
    Title: Learning of a Natural and Unnatural Stress Pattern by Older Children
    Date: Nov. 24 (M)
    Time: 5-6:30
    Location: 32D-461

    Recent research into adult learning of natural and unnatural pairs of artificial languages has demonstrated that it is easier to learn a phonological rule that is based on naturalness in language than a similar, but unnatural, version of the same rule. This effect has been seen in a variety of phonological research (e.g. (Moreton 2008; Pater & Tessier 2005; Zhang & Lai 2010). Research in the area of infants’ learning of natural and unnatural phonology (Gerken & Bollt 2008; Seidl & Buckley 2005), has provided mixed results regarding the infants’ ability to learn natural and unnatural patterns of phonology. There has been little work done with older children to investigate whether they exhibit a learning bias that favors natural phonological patterns over unnatural ones.

    The present study focuses on English-speaking older children’s learning of a natural and unnatural version of a stress rule based on vowel height. Previous research has shown that both English-speaking and French-speaking adults are able to more accurately learn a natural phonological rule where stress occurs on a low vowel than when stress occurs on a high vowel (Carpenter 2010). A study of how older children learn natural and unnatural stress patterns is important as it bridges the gap between infants and adults, allows comparison with both groups, and perhaps may shed some insight on the interaction between a general cognition, which allows learning of patterns in many areas, and a language-specific one, which perhaps bias learning of a natural pattern over an unnatural one.

    References
    Carpenter, Angela. 2010. A naturalness bias in learning stress. Phonology 27. 345-92.
    Gerken, LouAnn & Alex Bollt. 2008. Three exemplars allow at least some linguistic generalizations: Implication for generalization mechanism and constraints. Language Learning and Development 4. 228-48.
    Moreton, Elliott. 2008. Analytic bias and phonological typology. Phonology 25. 83-127.
    Pater, Joe & Anne-Michelle Tessier. 2005. Phonotactics and alternations: Testing the connection with artificial language learning. UMOP 31: Papers in Experimental Phonetics and Phonology, ed. by S. Kawahara. Amherst, MA: GLSA.
    Seidl, Amanda & Eugene Buckley. 2005. On the learning of arbitrary phonological rules. Language Learning and Development 1. 289-316.
    Zhang, Jie & Yuwen Lai. 2010. Testing the role of phonetic knowledge in Mandarin tone sandhi. Phonology 27. 153-201.

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    November 24th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 11/25 - Ted Levin & Coppe van Urk  

    Speakers: Ted Levin and Coppe van Urk
    Title: Austronesian voice as extraction marking
    Date/Time:Tuesday, Nov. 25, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461

    One major question within Austronesian syntax concerns the relationship between Voice marking, case, and extraction, which (commonly) display a one-to-one correspondence. Broadly, two approaches are employed to capture these correlations: (i) Voice morphology marks case and extraction via (wh-)agreement (e.g. Chung 1994; Richards 2000; Pearson 2001), (ii) Voice morphology determines case and extraction via changes in argument structure (e.g. Guilfoyle et al. 1992; Aldridge 2004; Legate 2012). Under a deterministic view of Voice morphology, dissociations of voice and case/extraction are unexpected. In this talk, we present two systems that display such dissociations, supporting the case/extraction-marking analysis of Voice (i). We present a concrete proposal for Voice as extraction marking that explains its effects on case.
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    November 24th, 2014

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    LingLunch 11/20 - Loes Koring  

    Speaker: Loes Koring (MIT/Utrecht)
    Title: A visual signature of computation
    Date/Time: Thursday, November 20, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    In this talk, I will present a new method to track argument reactivation during processing of intransitive verbs. In particular, I will show how the Visual World Paradigm can be used to obtain a precise record of (re)activation of the verb’s argument throughout the entire sentence. Using this method, we will see that the argument of unaccusative vs. unergative verbs is reactivated at a different point in time depending on their syntactic position. The timing difference is independent of the thematic role of the argument, as we will conclude from the behavior of theme unergative verbs.
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    November 17th, 2014

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    Colloquium 11/21 - Karlos Arregi  

    Speaker: Karlos Arregi
    Title: How to sell a melon: Mesoclisis in Spanish plural imperatives
    Date/Time:Friday, November 21, 3:30-5pm
    Location: 32-141

    Harris and Halle (2005) present a framework (hereafter, Generalized Reduplication) that unites the treatment of phonological reduplication and metathesis with similar phenomena in morphology, thereby accounting for the apparently spurious placement of imperative plural inflection -n in non-standard Spanish. For instance, alongside standard “vénda-n-me-lo” (“Sell it to me!”), where -n precedes enclitics, one also finds forms such as “vénda-me-lo-n” and “vénda-n-me-lo-n”, in which the plural suffix follows enclitics, with an optional copy of the suffix before them. More recently, Kayne (2009) has challenged their analysis, arguing that such cases should be uniformly treated in the syntax. In this talk, I reassess some of Kayne’s arguments, agreeing with his conclusion that the most important desiderata of any general analysis of these sorts of phenomena is restrictiveness, but contending that greater restrictiveness can be achieved through metaconstraints on the Generalized Reduplication formalism rather than through byzantine syntactic derivations. I present supporting data from morphological reduplication and metathesis phenomena in the Basque auxiliary system, demonstrating that they are better accounted for postsyntactically, and conclude with general remarks about the division of labor in word-formation.
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    November 17th, 2014

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    Ling Lunch 11/13 - Isabelle Charnavel  

    Speaker: Isabelle Charnavel (Havard)
    Title: Perspectives on Binding and Exemption
    Date/Time:Thursday, Nov. 13, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Some anaphors are exempt from Condition A regardless of how it is formulated. Drawing on French and English data, I will propose a way to draw the line between exempt and non-exempt anaphors and I will argue that exempt anaphors are in fact bound by covert logophoric operators. These operators code three kinds of perspective centers: attitude holders, empathy loci and deictic reference points.
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    November 12th, 2014

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    Lectures by Emmanuel Chemla  

    Emmanuel Chemla (CNRS) will be giving a series of four lectures starting this Friday:

    • Friday 11/14; 3-6PM; 32D-461
    • Tuesday 11/18 5-8PM; room to be announced (check this page)
    • Wednesday 11/19; 3-6PM; 32D-461
    • Tuesday 11/25; 5-8PM; room to be announced (check this page)

    Below is the abstract and information for the lectures:

    We will ask how simple psycholinguistic methods can be relevant for the study of various questions in linguistic theory. We will start by discussing the case of scalar implicatures, where many illustrations can be found, both in terms of questions and methods, without a perfect alignement between the two, however. We will quickly move to other topics including questions, scopal relations, cumulative/distributive readings of plurals. The methods we will discuss include truth value and acceptability judgments, basic “priming” studies and response time studies. The hope is to demonstrate that these methods are useful and simple to deploy.
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    November 12th, 2014

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    LFRG 11/6 - Loes Koring  

    Speaker: Loes Koring (Utrecht)
    Title: The semantics and acquisition of non-embedding reportatives
    Time: Thursday, November 6, 5:30-7
    Place: 32-D461

    Two seemingly similar Dutch evidential raising verbs, schijnen and lijken, have been shown to differ in their distribution (Haegeman 2006). Although they can both be translated to ‘seem’ in English, they do differ in meaning (van Bruggen 1980, Vliegen 2011). Schijnen means that the speaker has indirect reported evidence for the proposition (Vliegen 2011, cf. De Haan 1999); whereas lijken means that the speaker has some type of direct evidence for the proposition, but the evidence is unclear (van Bruggen 1980). Interestingly, whereas lijken can be embedded under modals, negation, and questions for instance, schijnen cannot. One goal of this talk is to identify a semantic property that is responsible for the restrictions in distribution reportative schijnen shows. The claim is that schijnen is restricted in evaluation to the here and now of the speaker (i.e. it is subjective) and as such it cannot occur in nonveridical contexts (cf. Giannakidou 2011). Crucially, the difference in semantics between schijnen and lijken does not only affect their distribution, but also their acquisition and processing. As a secondary goal of this talk, we will look at the effect of the extra semantic computation in acquisition and processing.
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    November 3rd, 2014

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    Colloquium 11/7 - Klaus Abels  

    Speaker: Klaus Abels (UCL)
    Title: Guess what else!
    Date: Friday, November 7th
    Time: 3:30-5:00p
    Place: 32-141

    Ross’s seminal paper on sluicing, that is, elliptical wh-questions of the type in (1), contains two generalizations that have driven analyses of sluicing in radically different directions.

    (1) Somebody just left. - Guess who!

    On the one hand, Ross observes that, at least in languages where this is directly observable, the wh-phrase in the elliptical question must bear the same case as its perceived correlate in the antecedent sentence, as in the German example in (2).

    (2) Er hat jemandem geholfen, aber er verrät nicht {wem | *wen | *wer}.
    he has someone.dat helped but he divulges not who.dat | who.acc | who.nom}
    ‘He helped someone but he won’t divulge who.’

    On the other hand, sluicing ameliorates island constraints, as seen in the contrast between the acceptable (3) and the ungrammatical full version (4).

    (3) They want to hire someone who speaks a Balkan language, but I don’t know which.
    (4) *They want to hire someone who speaks a Balkan language, but I don’t know which Balkan language they want to hire someone who speaks.

    The case matching effect in (2) is often taken as a straightforward argument for the presence of syntactic structure at the ellipsis site which is (nearly) identical to the syntactic structure of the antecedent. The island amelioration effect seen in (3) suggests the exact opposite.

    In the first part of this talk, I will report on joint work with Gary Thoms. In this work, we use contrast sluices in languages with resumptive pronouns as a diagnostic tool. Contrast sluices are examples like (5), where the correlate in the antecedent clause is definite and the sluice asks about the identity of a different relevant entity.

    (5) He gave the car to his son and guess what else!

    The cross-linguistic distribution of island repair in contrast sluices strongly suggests that sluicing does not literally repair island effects. It also strongly suggests that ellipsis identity for sluicing in general cannot be understood as strict syntactic identity.

    This conclusion calls for a careful evaluation of the case-matching effect, a task that will be taken up in the second part of the talk. Finally, a possible way forward will be suggested based on Fox and Katzir’s structural theory of focus alternatives.

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    November 3rd, 2014

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    Syntax Square 11/4 - Rebecca Woods  

    Speaker: Rebecca Woods (University of York/UMass Amherst)
    Title: Embedded Inverted Interrogatives as Embedded Speech Acts
    Date/Time:Tuesday, November 4, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Abstract: See attachment SyntaxSquare abstract

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    November 3rd, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 11/6 - Christiana Christodoulou  

    Speaker: Christiana Christodoulou (MIT Brain & Cognitive Sciences/University of Cyprus)
    Title: Towards a Unified Analysis of the Linguistic Development of Down Syndrome
    Date/Time:Thursday, Nov. 6, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Previous studies on the linguistic development of individuals diagnosed with Down Syndrome (DS) report both phonetic/phonological as well as morphosyntactic impairment. To date, there has not been any research on the effects of phonetic/phonological restrictions on inflectional marking, nor a theoretical analysis of the distinct performance of individuals with DS. Cypriot Greek individuals with DS exhibit distinct articulation and phonological difficulties that affect the production of inflectional marking. Once those are factored out, results reveal high accuracy rates (over 95%) with aspect, tense, person, number and case. In this talk I deal with the small residue of differences, which were morphosyntactically conditioned, and argue that the use of alternative forms exhibit a clear preference for the default value of each inflectional feature. I provide a unified analysis couched within the Distributed Morphology framework, covering both morphosyntactic as well as phonological differences. I suggest that failure to use the targeted form and the consistency in using default values derives from failure of the Subset Principle to fully apply.
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    November 3rd, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 11/3 - no meeting this week  

    There is no Phonology Circle meeting this week. The next meeting will be on November 24.

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    November 3rd, 2014

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    NELS at MIT this week  

    The 45th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society will be held at the MIT on October 31 - November 2nd, 2014. Invited speakers are:

    Please visit the conference website for more information.

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    October 27th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 10/27 - no meeting this week  

    There will be no Phonology Circle meeting this week.

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    October 27th, 2014

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    ESSL/Lacqlab 10/29 - TBA  

    Speaker and title: to be announced
    Time: Wednesday 10/29, 5:00 pm
    Room: 32-D831

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    October 27th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 10/30 - Andreea Nicolae  

    Speaker: Andreea Nicolae (ZAS Berlin)
    Title: Positive polarity and strength of scalar implicatures
    Date/Time:Thursday, October 30, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    The goal of this talk is to offer a new analysis of positive polarity elements in light of the differences between weak and strong disjunction (“or” versus “either or”). I will be addressing the following three properties of disjunctive elements in this talk:
    ◦ the ease of cancelability (strength) of their scalar inference
    ◦ the PPI status of a disjunctive element
    ◦ the ignorance inference that accompanies both weak and strong disjunction

    I will argue the following:
    ◦ the strength of the SI relates to the nature of the alternatives activated by the element at play, namely whether or not the scalar alternatives are obligatory (non-prunable).
    ◦ the PPI status is the result of an element’s appeal to non-vacuous exhaustification, i.e. proper strengthening.
    ◦ the epistemic ignorance inference is the result of a last resort way of avoiding a contradiction, namely via the insertion of a covert modal.

    If time permits, we will also see how this account can be carried over to account for the PPI status of existential quantifiers.

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    October 27th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 10/20 - Laura McPherson  

    Speaker: Laura McPherson (Dartmouth University)
    Title: Problems in Seeku plural formation
    Date: Oct. 20 (M)
    Time: 5:00 - 6:30
    Place: 32D-461

    On the surface, the plural in Seeku (Mande, Burkina Faso) is marked by some combination of tone raising, diphthong formation, vowel fronting, or nasalization. For example, bi21 ‘goat’ has the plural bi3 ‘goats’ with tone raising, ko2koː21 ‘rooster’ has the plural ko3koeː3 ‘roosters’ with diphthong formation and tone raising, dyo1ŋma3 ‘cat’ has the plural dyo1ŋmɛ3 ‘cats’ with vowel fronting, and sa21 ‘rabbit’ has the plural sɛ̃3 with nasalization, vowel fronting, and tone raising. I argue that the segmental changes are best understood as suffixation of a front vowel /-ɛ/, accompanied by vowel harmony ([ATR] and [high]) and vowel elision as a hiatus repair strategy. Thus, a form like ‘goat’ has the following derivation:

    UR                   /bi-ɛ/
    Harmony       |bi-i|
    Elision             |b-i|
    SR                     [bi]

    While this analysis works in a derivational framework, it runs into trouble in a parallel model of phonology due to counterbleeding opacity between elision and vowel harmony: due to the largely monosyllabic nature of Seeku, most often the only vowel that remains in the plural (under this analysis) is the vowel of the plural suffix, yet it displays harmony with the elided vowel of the stem. In this talk, I show how the rule-based analysis accounts for the data then briefly discuss the varying levels of success of different constraint-based analyses, including standard I-O OT, output-oriented constraints, Harmonic Serialism, and contrast preservation.

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    October 20th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 10/21- Kenyon Branan  

    Speaker: Kenyon Branan (MIT)
    Title: A long distance subject/object extraction
    Date/Time:Thursday, October 21, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    There are a number of ditransitive verbs that are able to take both a DP and a CP complement. A subset of these verbs exhibit an interesting asymmetry: long distance object extraction of a DP is grammatical, whereas long distance subject extraction of a DP is ungrammatical, even when licensing conditions for long distance subject extraction are fulfilled. Examples of ungrammatical subject extraction are given below.

    (1) a.* Who did we convince them [ __ sighted Bigfoot]?
    b.* Who did they persuade themselves [ __ should move to Canada]?
    c.* What did they assure each other [ __ has sunk]?

    Previous accounts of this [Stowell (1981), Bošković and Lasnik (2003)] attribute this ungrammaticality to licensing conditions for elements moved out of subject position. We take a different approach. We show that this ungrammaticality obtains only in cases where the extracted subject is a DP. We give evidence from two tests which suggest that the matrix subject of these verbs originates below [spec,vP]. Putting these two together, we argue that the ungrammaticality of sentences like (1) is the result of an intervention effect. The movement of a DP containing a wh-word to [spec,vP] creates a structure where T is unable to Agree with the low subject, the moved DP acting as an intervener.

    We propose that there is a structural difference between long distance subject movement and long distance object movement. Long distance subject movement involves movement of a subject from the CP to matrix [spec,vP]. Long distance object movement involves two steps: movement of the CP to [spec,vP], and subextraction of the object DP from the CP. Crucially, long distance object movement does not create the asymmetric c-command relationship between two syntactic objects of the same type which characterizes intervention effects.

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    October 20th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 10/23 - Aron Hirsch  

    Speaker: Aron Hirsch (MIT)
    Title: Deconstructing exceptives
    Date/Time:Thursday, October 23, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    This talk looks at the semantics of exceptive expressions like but and other than. Building on insights in Gajewski (2008, 2013), I pursue an analysis of exceptives as sharing a common semantic core: a form of subtraction. But in (1) takes John as its argument and returns the set of all entities (atomic or plural) which do not include John. The resultant meaning composes with students by Predicate Modification, yielding the set of students not including John. This set is the restrictor of every.

    (1) Every student but John came.

    I will argue for an analysis of but as obligatorily strengthened by the Exh operator of Fox (2007). Exh is responsible for deriving the entailment in (1) that John did not come. The literature (in particular, Gajewski 2013) has pursued this approach, but with additional complications, which I will argue are avoidable.

    I will show how the analysis extends to account for further empirical puzzles, in particular the incompatibility of exceptives with both, all when there is a numeral present (Moltmann 1993), and singular definites. Each expression in (2) introduces a presupposition about the size of its restrictor: the presupposes uniqueness, both presupposes duality, and all six presupposes a cardinality of six. I will argue that presuppositions project universally out of alternatives over which Exh quantifies, and that the result is presupposition conflict in each of (2a-c).

    (2) a. *Both students but John came.
    b. *All six students but John came.
    c. *The student but John came.

    Finally, I will show that the analysis sheds light on the typology of exceptives. But and other than are both a spell-out of the subtraction operator. The dimension on which they differ is that the but allomorph can only occur with Exh, while other than can occur with or without Exh. The availability of a parse without Exh will account for the freer distribution of other than than but and its fewer entailments:

    (3) Some student other than/*but John came.
    (John could have come also, or not.)
    Three students other than/*but John came.
    (John could have come also, or not.)

    I will motivate the claim that other than is nonetheless optionally strengthened by testing for a parse with Exh using Hurford’s disjunctions.

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    October 20th, 2014

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    LFRG 10/23 - Yimei Xiang  

    Speaker: Yimei Xiang (Harvard)
    Title: Mention-Some Readings of Indirect Questions: from Experiments to Formalizations
    Time: Thursday, October 23, 5:30-7pm
    Location: 32-D461

    In this talk, I look for experimental clues and propose a schematized analysis for the following three problems about mention-some (MS) readings of indirect questions. First, which type(s) of indirect questions admit MS readings? Second, is there any MS reading sensitive to false answers (FAs)? Third, are FAs equally bad? Based on the results of five TVJTs on ATurk and the reanalysis of Klinedinst & Rothschild’s (2011) raw data, I find that (i) MS readings are also supported by indirect MA-questions under predicates like tell; (ii) there is an MS reading sensitive to FAs, in parallel to the intermediately exhaustive reading; and (iii) FAs are not equally bad, in particular, over affirmation is relatively more acceptable than over deny in MA-questions, while over deny is relatively more acceptable than over affirmation in MS-questions.
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    October 20th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 10/14 - Heidi Klockmann  

    Speaker: Heidi Klockmann (Utrecht University)
    Title: Case alternations and case hierarchies: A view from numerals and negation
    Date/Time:Thursday, October 14, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    A number of Slavic and Uralic languages share the property of blocking structural case assignment in the presence of an oblique case assigner. This alternation has attracted the most attention in the context of numerals, whereby the case triggered by the numeral, genitive in Polish (1) and partitive in Finnish (2), fails to appear in oblique contexts.

    (1) a. Iwan kupił pięć samochodów
    Ivan   bought  five   cars.GEN
    Ivan bought five cars
    b. z pięcioma samochodami
    with five.INST    cars.INST
    …with five cars

    (2) a. Ivan osti viisi auto-a
    Ivan bought five-0 car-PART.SG
    Ivan bought five cars (Brattico 2011: 1045)
    b. Minä asuin kolmessa talossa
    I lived three.INE.SG house.INE.SG
    I lived in three houses (Brattico 2011: 1051)

    Previous accounts have described the data in terms of case hierarchies, whereby inherent case outranks structural case, leading to the patterns above (cf. Babby 1987). However, such accounts suffer in the face of Finnish, which does not appear to respect the structural-inherent case distinction for case alternations (Brattico 2010, 2011).

    In this talk, I discuss various case alternations, focusing specifically on numerals and negation in Polish and to a lesser degree, Finnish. I show that we can model these facts using a case stacking mechanism, which necessitates the use of a case hierarchy in terms of specific cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, etc), rather than case types (inherent, structural). I further show that certain cases appear to have a lexical requirement, leading to case percolation in the context of semi-lexical elements. Finally, I consider the possible underpinnings of the case hierarchy, and suggest that it actually reflects a structural difference between certain cases.

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    October 14th, 2014

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    ESSL/LacqLab 10/15 - Amanda Swenson  

    Speaker: Amanda Swenson (MIT)
    Time: Wednesday, October 15, 3:00-4:30pm (note exceptional time!)
    Location: 32-D831
    Title: The Morphosemantics of the Perfect in Malayalam

    In this talk, I will examine the the semantics of the two constructions identified by Asher & Kumari (1997) as expressing the perfect in Malayalam. I consider whether or not the Right Boundary of the Perfect Time Span is set by tense, as it is in perfect constructions in Greek, English and Bulgarian (Iatridou et al. 2001). This question is particularly interesting in light of work by Amritavalli & Jayaseelan (2005) and Amritavalli (2014) which has argued that Malayalam does not have a TP and that temporal interpretation is read off of aspect. I will show, based on evidence from the construction that expresses the Existential perfect, that their system makes incorrect predictions for the perfect. I will provide a compositional analysis for the Malayalam Existential perfect. I also consider the other construction used for the Resultative and Universal perfects and show the ways in which it does and does not match the semantics of the parallel constructions in other languages.
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    October 14th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 10/16 - Ayaka Sugawara  

    Speaker: Ayaka Sugawara (MIT) (joint work with Martin Hackl and Ken Wexler)
    Title: On acquisition of “only”: Question-Answer congruence and scalar presuppositions
    Date/Time:Thursday, October 16, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    There is a long-standing puzzle in acquisition of only since Crain et al. (1994): children up to age 6 display difficulties understanding sentences with pre-subject only (“subject-only”, e.g. Only the cat is holding a flag.) while having no difficulty understanding sentences with pre-VP only (“VP-only”, e.g. The cat is only holding a flag.). We note that neither “subject-only” nor “VP-only” are congruent with a broad question (e.g. What happened?), which is typically used to prompt puppet’s answers in experiments in the literature. Instead, they are congruent with different sub-questions, which we hypothesize that listeners must accommodate during comprehension. Our experiments compare children’s adult-like responses when we use broad questions and their responses when we use sub-questions. The results show that children are sensitive to Question-Answer Congruence (QAC) and support the idea that accommodation of sub-questions of What happened? plays a role in Crain’s puzzle.
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    October 14th, 2014

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    LFRG 10/17 - David Nicolas  

    Speaker: David Nicolas (ENS)
    Day/time: Friday, 17 October, 3:30pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Title: Two and a half apples

    With some count nouns, we understand expressions of the form “a half N” and “half of an N” and sentences like this one:

    (1) Two and a half apples are on the table.

    This is true, for instance, if on the table there are two apples and one half apple (half of an apple).

    If instead of “two and a half” we use a simple cardinal like “two”, the truth conditions of a similar sentence can be stated like this:

    (2) Two apples are on the table
    is true iff exists x (apple(x) & card(x) = 2 & on_the_table(x)) {“at least” semantics}

    This “at least” semantics of cardinals just asserts the existence of two things. An “exact semantics” would assert the existence of exactly two things and no more.

    Whether one adopts an “at least” semantics or an “exact” semantics, these kind of truth conditions are inadequate for (1) for two reasons (Salmon 1997, Liebesman 2014):

    • Half an apple is not in the denotation of “apples”, so it cannot be in the denotation of two and a half apples if one just “intersects” the meaning of “apples” with that of “two and a half”.
    • The function card() returns the cardinality of a plurality or set, which can never be a fractional number.

    So what are the truth conditions of the sentence and how do we get them?

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    October 14th, 2014

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    LFRG 10/8 - Brian Buccola  

    Speaker: Brian Buccola (McGill University)
    Time: Wednesday, October 8, 3:30-5pm (note exceptional time!)
    Location: 32-D461
    Title: Global semantic constraints: the case of van Benthem’s problem

    Any adjectival theory of numeral modifiers faces a challenge known as van Benthem’s problem (van Benthem, 1986), whereby non-upward-monotone quantifiers like “fewer than three” give rise to inadequate truth conditions. I propose a novel solution based on general economy principles for LF availability: certain LFs are generated by the grammar but unavailable (blocked) by virtue of (i) their semantic equivalence to LFs of syntactically simpler sentences, and (ii) the simultaneous availability of other, non-trivial LFs. The equivalence check is shown to rely crucially on the distributivity-collectivity properties of the predicates, in particular on whether the predicates distribute to at least some (not necessarily every) subpart (not necessarily atomic). The proposal therefore makes strong predictions regarding the interpretations of sentences with negative (and other) quantifiers and various predicates along the distributive-collective spectrum, which I show are borne out.
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    October 6th, 2014

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    ESSL/LacqLab - No meeting this week  

    We will have no lab meeting this week. Our next lab meeting will be Wednesday, 10/15.

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    October 6th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 10/9 - Ethan Poole  

    Speaker: Ethan Poole (UMass Amherst)
    Title: Deconstructing quirky subjects
    Date/Time:Thursday, October 09, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Quirky (nonnominative) subjects differ across languages in whether they display the full range of properties exhibited by canonical nominative subjects. Based on data from Icelandic, German, Hindi-Urdu, Basque, and Laz, I show that the subjecthood properties exhibited by quirky subjects crosslinguistically obey an implicational hierarchy. I argue that this hierarchy is the result of DPs exhibiting a set of subjecthood properties as a function of how high they raise in the functional sequence.
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    October 6th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 9/30 - Ted Levin  

    Speaker: Ted Levin
    Title: Toward a unified analysis of antipassive and pseudo noun incorporation constructions
    Date/Time: Tuesday, Sept 30, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract: See attachment LSA 2015 abstract

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    September 29th, 2014

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    Colloquium 10/3 - Paul Egré  

    Speaker: Paul Egré (Institut Jean-Nicod)
    Title: Intensional readings of “many” and moral expectations
    Time: Friday, 10/3/14, 3:30-5:00 PM
    Venue: 32-141

    The determiner “many” is unlike “some” or “all” in that i) it is vague and context-sensitive: how many counts as many depends both on the context and on the speaker (see Partee 1989), and ii) it has intensional readings, in the sense that “many As are Bs” and “many Cs are Ds” can differ in truth value even as the predicates A and C are coextensional, and the predicates C and D are (Keenan and Stavi 1986, Fernando and Kamp 1996, Lappin 2000). Intensional readings of sentences of the form “many As are Cs” can often be given a comparative paraphrase in terms of expectations: “many students left” meaning “(significantly) more students left than expected”. In this paper, I propose to clarify the notion of expectation in question. Two kinds of expectations ought to be distinguished. One concerns statistical expectations in a broad sense, which involve a representation of how likely or typical an event is (see Moxey and Sanford 1993, and Fernando and Kamp 1996 on “many”). Another kind concerns moral expectations in a broad sense, involving a representation of how good or desirable an event is. The latter has received less attention in the literature. I will present the results of a set of experimental studies, run jointly with Florian Cova (University of Geneva), in which we investigated the sensitivity of judgments involving “many” to those two kinds of expectations. The results indicate that judgments involving “many” are sensitive to both kinds of expectations, but they show a considerable influence of moral expectations proper. Our main finding is that the threshold relevant to ascribe “many” is systematically lowered for predicates that have a negative value or that are matched with a more undesirable outcome. This pattern of results bears a substantive connection with the asymmetry originally pointed out by Kahneman and Tversky (1979) concerning the perception of losses vs. gains. I will discuss different ways in which the sensitivity of “many” to moral expectations might be regimented. I will also look at the results from the perspective of extensional accounts of the semantics of “many” (Solt 2012, Greer 2014), in which intensional readings are accounted for in terms of a shift of comparison class.
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    September 29th, 2014

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    ESSL/LacqLab 10/1 - Despina Oikonomou  

    Our next ESSL/LacqLab meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 1, at 5:00 PM in room 32-D831. NOTE THE TIME CHANGE FROM THE USUAL! Despina Oikonomou will be presenting.

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    September 29th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 10/2 - Ivy Sichel  

    Speaker: Ivy Sichel (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
    Title: Anatomy of a counterexample: Extraction from relative clauses
    Date/Time:Thursday, October 02, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Relative clauses (henceforth RCs) are considered islands for extraction, yet acceptable cases of overt extraction have been attested over the years in a variety of languages: Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Hebrew, English, Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese (Erteschik-Shir 1973, 1982, Kuno 1976, Engdahl 1980, McCawley 1981, Chomsky 1982, Taraldsen 1982, Doron 1982, Chung and McCloskey 1983, Abe et. al. 2010, Cinque 2010), and also in Lebanese Arabic and Mandarin Chinese, where covert extraction from an RC is observed (Aoun & Li 2003, Hulsey & Sauerland 2006). The possibility for extraction has often been presented as evidence against a syntactic theory of locality, and in favor of constraints defined in terms of information structure (Erteschik-Shir 1973, 1982, 1997, Engdahl 1982, 1997, Ambridge & Goldberg 2008), or processing limitations and constraints on working memory (Hofmeister & Sag 2010). Another possibility, still hardly explored (but see Kush et. al. 2013), is that locality is determined syntactically (Chomsky 1973 and subsequent work), combined with a more fine-grained structure for RCs and a theory of how extraction from this structure interacts with the theory of locality. I argue in favor of the latter approach. I assume the structural ambiguity of RCs (Sauerland 1998, Grosu & Landman 1998, Bhatt 2002, among others) and argue that while externally headed RCs do block extraction, extraction is possible, under certain conditions, from a Raising RC, and is formally similar to acceptable extraction from a Wh-island.
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    September 29th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 09/22 - Benjamin Storme  

    Speaker: Benjamin Storme (MIT)
    Title: Closed syllable vowel laxing and the perceptibility of coda consonant place contrasts
    Date/Time: Monday, September 22, 5-6:30 pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Closed syllable vowel laxing describes a common pattern of allophonic distribution where tense vowels are laxed in closed syllables (e.g., French vous votez /vote/ “you vote” vs il vote /vɔt/ “he votes”). I propose that laxing vowels (e.g., o->ɔ) in closed syllables is a strategy selected by speakers to enhance the perceptibility of coda consonant place contrasts. I present results of a perception experiment that provide preliminary support for this hypothesis.
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    September 22nd, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 9/25 - Edwin Howard  

    Speaker: Edwin Howard (MIT)
    Title: Superlative Degree Clauses: evidence from NPI licensing
    Date/Time:Thursday, September 25, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    This talk concerns the superlative morpheme -est and its ability to license Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) such as any and ever, and addresses the puzzle posed by utterances such as (1):

    (1) a. John read the most books that anyone ever read.
    b. Mary sang the loudest that anyone ever sang.

    While the embedded clause in (1a) appears at first sight to be a relative clause modifier of the NP poems, an analogous role for its counterpart in (1b) would be surprising as RCs do not typically modify adverbs (*Mary sang loudly that I like). Furthermore I demonstrate that the embedded clauses in (1) are not predicted to be able to host NPIs under a RC modifier analysis, given otherwise well-supported proposals that appeal to the entailments that semantic operators such as -est give rise to (Ladusaw 1980; von Fintel 1999, Gajewski 2010).

    I present my proposal to analyse these embedded clauses as arguments of -est, akin to than- or as-clauses familiar from other degree constructions. The Superlative Degree Clause analysis makes welcome predictions for the interpretation of such structures, and provides an elegant account of the otherwise puzzling contrasts between (1) and the odd degraded or infelicitous examples in (2):

    (2) a. *John read the most books that anyone ever wrote.
    b. #Mary sang the loudest that any baritone ever sang

    If time permits I will sketch out an implementation of the SDC analysis and consider its consequences for our understanding of the syntax/semantics interface.

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    September 22nd, 2014

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    Phonology 2014 at MIT this week  

    Phonology 2014 will be held at MIT from September 19-21, 2014. Methods tutorials will be held on Friday Sept 19, and research presentations (talks and posters) will take place on Sat and Sun Sept 20-21. Invited speakers are:

    Visit the conference website for more information.

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    September 15th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 09/15 - Suyeon Yun  

    Speaker: Suyeon Yun (MIT)
    Title: English -uh-insertion and consonant cluster splittability
    Date/Time: Monday, September 15, 5-6:30 pm
    Location: 32-D461

    This paper investigates the grammar of consonant cluster splittability based on a case study from English -uh-insertion, which, to my knowledge, has not been described or studied thus far. Experimental evidence will show that the acceptability of -uh-insertion is determined by interactions of several factors, so that the resulting -uh-form can be perceptually similar to the original word.
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    September 15th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 9/16 - Coppe van Urk  

    Speaker: Coppe van Urk (MIT)
    Title: Why Dutch is like Salish: On the nature of the EPP
    Date/Time: Tuesday, Sept 16, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461

    This talk discusses some syntactic environments in Dutch in which Locative Inversion appears to be obligatory (Hoekstra and Mulder 1990; Zwart 1991). I show that this pattern generalizes and that locative expressions, particularly locative proforms, may be used to satisfy the EPP property of Spec-IP. I relate this to the claim, developed by Ritter and Wiltschko (2009) on the basis of Salishan languages, that Infl may have locative content, and I offer a modification of the Ritter and Wiltschko proposal that accommodates the Dutch facts. If on the right track, this proposal suggests that the EPP is a property of a head (Landau 2006; Richards 2014), rather than a property of a single feature (Chomsky 1995; Pesetsky and Torrego 2001).
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    September 15th, 2014

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    ESSL/LacqLab 09/17 - Iain Giblin  

    Our next ESSL/LacqLab meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 17, at 3:00 PM in room 32-D831 (note room change from last week!). Iain Giblin will be presenting on nominal recursion in child language.

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    September 15th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 9/18- Tsuyoshi Sugawara  

    Speaker: Tsuyoshi Sugawara (Ube National College of Technology / MIT)
    Title: Between Red Sox and Generative Grammar: The Lexical Semantics and Morphosyntax of the SASPAN Construction
    Date/Time:Thursday, September 18, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    The purpose of this talk is to discuss the lexical-semantic and morpho-syntactic properties of Syntactically Attributive but Semantically Predicative Adjective-plus-Noun (SASPAN) construction,exemplified by “an adjectival analysis of cardinal numerals.” I will describe the peculiarity of the SASPAN constructions, in comparison with some other adjective-noun combinations in which the prenominal adjective combines with the head noun in a non-intersective way, and show examples of such a construction in English, Japanese and other languages. Then, by employing the framework of the Generative Lexicon Theory ( e.g., Pustejovsky 1995, Jackendoff 1997, 2002, Pustejovsky et. al. 2013) and building on the earlier findings in Sugawara (2010, 2011, 2013a,b), I will propose (i) a semantic structure for the head noun occurring in the construction, (ii) two semantic constraints on the construction, one applying to the prenominal adjective and the other to the head noun, and (iii) the mechanism by which such a construction is derived.
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    September 15th, 2014

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    Colloquium 09/18 - Jim McCloskey  

    Speaker: Jim McCloskey (UCSC)
    Title: Phasehood, the Maximal Verbal Projection and Preverbs in Irish
    Date/Time: Thursday, September 18th, 5:15-6:45 pm
    Location: 34-101

    Please note the special time, date and place for this talk.

    The direct object relation is a relation of central importance in syntactic theory and so it was an important moment when the nature of that relation was fundamentally re-thought in work of the 1990’s. This paper examines some of the issues raised in that re-thinking, by looking closely at the expression of the direct object relation in Irish (infinitival) clauses. It focuses in particular on what is to be learned from an intricate pattern of dialectal, idiolectal, and generational variation which, it is claimed, sheds light on how we should understand `Burzio’s Generalization’, which is itself a central aspect of theories of objecthood which derive from Government Binding Theory.
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    September 15th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 9/8 - Organizational meeting  

    The Phonology Circle will return to its traditional meeting time of Monday 5-6:30 but will be held in 32D-461.

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    September 8th, 2014

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    ESSL/LacqLab 9/10 - Hackl, Olson, and Sugawara  

    Speaker: Martin Hackl, Erin Olson, and Ayaka Sugawara (MIT)
    Title: Processing Only: Scalar Presupposition and the Structure of Alternatives
    Date/Time: Wednesday, September 10, 3:00-4:30 PM
    Location: 32-D461

    Martin, Erin, and Ayaka will be practicing for their Sinn Und Bedeutung talk. See abstract attached.

    SuB Practice Abstract - WHAMIT

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    September 8th, 2014

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    Ling Lunch 9/11- Juliet Stanton  

    Speaker: Juliet Stanton (MIT)
    Title: Learnability shapes typology: the case of the midpoint pathology
    Date/Time:Thursday, September 11, 12:30-1:45pm
    Location: 32-D461

    The aim of this paper is to explore the idea that learnability shapes typology: that the range of linguistic variation we observe is delimited by constraints on the types of grammars that can be acquired accurately and reliably (cf. Boersma 2003, Alderete 2008, Staubs 2014). I focus specifically on the midpoint pathology (Eisner 1997, Hyde 2008, Kager 2012), a term used to characterize a type of unattested stress system in which stress is drawn to the middle of mid-length words, but not others. Kager (2012) argues that eliminating the pathology requires us to eliminate contextual lapse constraints (e.g. *ExtLapseR) from Con and adopt weakly layered feet; I argue instead that systems exhibiting the pathology are unattested because the necessary ranking is difficult to learn. I present modeling results that support the current proposal, and show that the absence of the midpoint pathology can in part be attributed to extra-phonological limitations on the learner’s input. I discuss some immediate challenges for the proposal, and show that its global predictions are borne out. I argue that, if we can explain the absence of all midpoint systems as the result of constraints on learnability, then there is no need to exclude them from the learner’s hypothesis space. In other words: to explain the absence of the midpoint pathology, we do not need to eliminate contextual lapse constraints, nor do we need to adopt weakly layered feet.
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    September 8th, 2014

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    LFRG 9/12 - Mia Nussbaum  

    Speaker: Mia Nussbaum (MIT)
    Title: Subset Comparatives as Comparative Quantifiers
    Date/Time: Friday, 12 September, 3:30-5pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Mia will be practicing for her Sinn Und Bedeutung talk. See abstract attached.

    nussbaum_sub19_abstract

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    September 8th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 9/9 - Nicholas Longenbaugh  

    Speaker: Nicholas Longenbaugh
    Title: On the approximate parity of Niuean arguments: a case study in copy-raising
    Date/Time: Tuesday, Sept 9, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Abstract: here

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    September 8th, 2014

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    Events at MIT, Fall 2014  

    At least two conferences will be held at MIT during the fall semester:

    Phonology 2014 will be held at MIT from September 19-21, 2014. Invited speakers are:

    • Gillian Gallagher (NYU)
    • René Kager (Utrecht University)
    • Naomi Feldman (UMD)

    The 45th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society will be held at MIT on October 31 - November 2nd, 2014. Invited speakers are:

    • Heidi Harley (University of Arizona)
    • Roger Schwarzschild (MIT)
    • Kie Zuraw (UCLA)
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    September 2nd, 2014

    Posted in Talks

    Linguistics colloquia for the academic year  

    The MIT Linguistics Colloquium schedule for this academic year is below. All talks are on Fridays. For further information, please contact the organizers for this year, Ruth Brillman and Mia Nussbaum.

    Fall 2014:

    Spring 2015:

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    September 2nd, 2014

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    LFRG 9/4 - Dorothy Ahn  

    Speaker: Dorothy Ahn (Harvard)
    Title: Semantics of focus particles too and either
    Date/Time: Thursday, September 4, 5:30-7p
    Location: 34-D461

    Additive either is an NPI that appears clause-finally in sentences like (1).

    (1) John didn’t leave. Bill didn’t leave either.
    (2) *Bill left either.

    An adequate account must explain at least two main properties of additive either: a) its restricted distribution and b) the relation between the host – the clause containing either – and the antecedent – the clause preceding the host. Building on Rullmann’s (2003) intuition that additive either is a negative counterpart of focus particle too, I first propose an analysis for too: it introduces an anaphoric variable q that requires an antecedent, and when applied to a proposition p, it asserts a conjunction of q and p. After discussing how this anaphoricity accounts for the relation between the host and the antecedent, I propose that additive either is a completely parallel disjunctive counterpart of too, with its meaning identical to too except that it asserts a disjunction between q and p. The restricted distribution of additive either is predicted to follow simply from the lexical entry of either once we adopt the exhaustification-based theory of NPIs (Chierchia, 2013) and assume thateither has the same domain and scalar alternatives of a regular disjunction.

    Chierchia, G. (2013). Logic in Grammar: Polarity, free choice, and intervention.
    Rullmann, H. (2003). Additive particles and polarity. Journal of semantics, 20(4)

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    September 2nd, 2014

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    LingLunch 9/4 - Roman Feiman  

    Speaker: Roman Feiman (Snedeker & Carey Labs at Harvard Psychology)
    Title: The acquisition of verbal negation: a case study in the development of logical operators in thought and language
    Date/Time: Thursday, September 4, 12:30-1:45
    Location: 34-D461

    Logical connectives in natural language, such as “and,” “or,” and “not,” have highly abstract meanings that are typically modeled as higher-order functions of the meanings of the phrases with which they combine. Despite this complexity, children begin to use such words very early. How do they learn the meanings of words with such abstract, non-referential content? Does learning the corresponding words somehow help learn the concept? Or must one know the concept already, so that learning the word is a matter of labeling an existing mental symbol?

    I will describe a series of experiments examining children’s comprehension of the words “no” and “not.” Our main finding is that children do not begin to understand the abstract meaning of these words until the age of two. This is surprisingly late, given that “no”, in particular, is frequently produced by younger children. I will discuss some possible interpretations for this disconnect between children’s production of the word and understanding of its logical force, as well as the significance of these findings for the relationship between the development of logic and language.

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    September 2nd, 2014

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    Semantics Talks 6/3 - Patrick Elliott and Yasutada Sudo  

    Date/Time: Tuesday, Jun 3, 1:30pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Speaker: Patrick Elliott (University College London)
    Title: Illusory Repair and the PF-Theory of Islands

    In this talk (based on joint work with Matt Barros & Gary Thoms) we argue against the proposal that island violations are repaired by ellipsis. Building on Merchant (2001), we develop an approach to repair-effects based on a number of distinct evasion strategies, which involve a degree of non-isomorphism between the ellipsis site and its antecedent. Island-violations are side-stepped, just so long as a non-island-violating evasion source is available. When non-isomorphism is controlled for, island effects re-emerge. We show this for both sluicing (widely assumed to be island-insensitive) and fragment answers (widely assumed to be island-sensitive). Only the evasion approach can account for the whole set of facts. We conclude: (i) the conjecture that island conditions are fundamentally phonological in nature is incorrect (ii) islands provide a strong argument for silent syntactic structure.

    Speaker: Yasutada Sudo (University College London)
    Title: How Scalar Implicatures and Presupposition Interact

    (Joint work with Benjamin Spector.)

    We investigate the interactions between scalar implicatures and presuppositions in sentences involving both a presupposition trigger and a scalar item, e.g. “John is (un)aware that some of the students smoke”. We first discuss Gajewski & Sharvit’s (2012) account and point out empirical problems for it. Then we present an alternative analysis which is a very natural extension of ‘standard’ treatments of scalar implicatures. We show that it nicely explains the data that is problematic for Gajewski & Sharvit, but claim that it fails to account of the full range of data. This discussion leads us to pursue a view where two distinct strengthening mechanisms are at play. Our key data involves what we call “presupposed ignorance”.

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    June 3rd, 2014

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    Semantics Talks 6/5 - Matthijs Westera and Ayaka Sugawara  

    Date/Time: Wednesday, Jun 5, 3pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Speaker: Matthijs Westera (University of Amsterdam)
    Title: A pragmatics-driven theory of intonational meaning

    I present a compositional semantics for Dutch(/English/German) intonation that crucially treats high phrase accents/boundary tones as signalling conversational maxim violations. Together with Attentive Pragmatics - a set of maxims I proposed earlier for an account of exhaustivity implicatures - this simple assumption is shown to yield very fine-grained and, it seems, accurate semantic/pragmatic predictions for various contours, e.g., that contrastive topic must scope over focus, that fall-rise indicates uncertain relevance or incredulity, and how this all interacts with context. I argue that the assumed intonational meanings are non-arbitrary, suggesting a universal tendency, at least in non-tonal languages, towards an intonational semantics along these lines. Finally, the apparent semanticization of the maxims invites reflection on their status in linguistic theory.

    Speaker: Ayaka Sugawara
    Title: Covered Box Task to investigate acquisition of scopally ambiguous sentences: evidence from scrambled sentence in Japanese

    (Practice talk for FAJL; joint work with Ken Wexler.)

    A major open question in the theory of language acquisition is why children speaking English seem to have difficulty interpreting inverse scope of negation and a universal subject quantifier. Our results contribute both to the solution to this puzzle and provide evidence for particular approaches to the A-movement of Japanese and the theory of contrastive topic. We will argue that children have difficulty with at least some forms of reconstruction and alternative comparison which takes place at LF, but do not have a problem with interpreting a particular logical form generated by syntax.

    We conducted two experiments in Japanese with Japanese-speaking children. Our first experiment shows that children accept the not>all reading of scrambled sentences, where the not>all reading is supported by the syntax

    Our second experiment shows that children completely fail to get the unambiguous not>all reading of Contrastive Topic sentences, where not>all reading is derived at LF. The difficulty seems to be related to the same type of “alternatives comparison” difficulty that is the major explanation of children’s difficulties with scalar implicatures.

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    June 3rd, 2014

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    Summer Conference Round-Up, Part 2  

    The 22nd Manchester Phonology Meeting (mfm22) was held May 29-31. Among the presentations were:

    • Juliet Stanton and Donca Steriade: Stress windows and Base Faithfulness in English suffixal derivatives
    • Yoonjung Kang (PhD 2000), Tae-Jin Yoon and Sungwoo Han: Lexical diffusion of vowel length merger in Seoul Korean: a corpus-based study
    • Adam Albright: Epenthesis in rising sonority clusters in Lakhota
    • Suyeon Yun: The role of acoustic disjuncture in loan epenthesis: experimental evidence
    • Andrew Nevins (PhD 2005) and Nina Topintzi: Moraic onsets and cross-anchoring in Arrernte
    • Giorgio Magri (PhD 2009): On the Prince-Tesar-Hayes’ approach to OT restrictiveness
    • Anthony Brohan: Licensing Catalan laryngeal neutralization by cue (Poster)
    • Sam Zukoff: A correlation between stress and reduplication: Diyari and beyond (Poster)
    • Lilla Magyar: Gemination in Hungarian loanword adaptation (Poster)
    • Benjamin Storme: The Loi de Position and the acoustics of French mid vowels (Poster)
    • Katrin Skoruppa, Andrew Nevins and Stuart Rosen: English listeners’ use of vowel phonotactics for speech segmentation (Poster)

    The 24th meeting of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT 24) was held at NYU on 5/30-6/1.

    • Among the invited talks were Valentine Hacquard (PhD 2006), Bootstrapping into attitudes, and Sarah Moss (PhD MIT Philosophy 2009), On the semantics of epistemic vocabulary.
    • Wataru Uegaki gave a talk entitled Japanese-type alternative questions in a cross-linguistic perspective.
    • Tue Trinh (PhD 2011) presented a poster with Andreas Haida entitled Building alternatives as did Luka Crnič (PhD 2011), on Scope fixing, scope economy, and focus movement.
    • Marie-Christine Meyer (PhD 2013), gave a talk entitled Grammatical uncertainty implicatures and Hurford’s constraint

    CNRS-IKER in the Basque Country will host the Workshop on Quantifier Scope: Syntactic, Semantic, and Experimental Approaches on June 12-13. Benjamin Bruening (PhD 2001) will present an invited talk entitled Giving and having: quantifier scope and secondary predicates. Susi Wurmbrand (PhD 1998) is also giving an invited talk titled Thoughts on the syntactic domain of QR. Ayaka Sugawara and Ken Wexler will present a talk entitled Covered Box Task to investigate acquisition of scopally ambiguous sentences: evidence from scrambled sentences in Japanese.

    NINJAL and ICU are co-hosting the 7th Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics (FAJL7) in Tokyo on June 27-29. The following are among the MIT-affiliated presentations:

    • Miwako Hisagi, Valerie Shafer, Shigeru Miyagawa, Hadas Kotek, Ayaka Sugawara and Dimitrios Pantazis: Perception of Japanese vowel duration contrasts by L1 and L2 learners of Japanese: An EEG study
    • Uli Sauerland (PhD 1998) and Kazuko Yatsuhiro: Japanese Reported Speech within the Emerging Typology of Speech Reports
    • Shinichiro Ishihara (PhD 2003): On Match Constraints (Invited Talk)
    • Ayaka Sugawara and Ken Wexler: Children do not accept unambiguous inverse-scope readings: experimental evidence from prosody and scrambling in Japanese
    • Ryo Masuda: Phonological and lexical contexts and the phonetic realization of [voice] in Japanese (Poster)
    • Takashi Morita: Scalar implicature and restrictive focus particles (Poster)

    Finally, NINJAL will also host the 14th Conference on Laboratory Phonology (LabPhon 14), July 25-27. Presenting there are:

    • Yoonjung Kang (PhD 2000), Tae-Jin Yoon and Sungwoo Han: Lexical diffusion of vowel length merger in Seoul Korean: a corpus-based study
    • Gillian Gallagher (PhD 2010): Determining the representation of phonotactic restrictions with nonce words (Poster)
    • Suyeon Yun: Acoustic disjuncture in consonant clusters and vowel epenthesis (Poster)
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    June 3rd, 2014

    Posted in Talks

    Phonology Circle 5/21 - Manchester Practice Talks  

    The next session of the Phonology Circle will feature practice talks for the Manchester Phonology Meeting.

    Date/Time: Wednesday, May 21, 1-3p (Note special date/time)
    Location: 32-D831

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    May 19th, 2014

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    LFRG 5/29 - Jacopo Romoli  

    LFRG will have several special meetings over the summer, including Yasutada Sudo and Patrick Elliott (6/3) and Matthijs Westera (6/6). The first of these is detailed here.

    Speaker: Jacopo Romoli (Ulster)
    Title: Redundancy and the notion of local context
    Date/Time: Thursday, May 29, 2pm
    Location: 32-D831

    (Joint work with Clemens Mayr.)

    In this talk, I discuss novel data which are problematic for Stalnaker’s (1979) non-redundancy condition, requiring not to assert something that is already presupposed. This condition has been extended to the local level, so that a sentence is deemed not assertible if it contains any part that is redundant in its local context (Fox 2008, Schlenker 2009, Singh 2007 among many others). The problem for this approach comes from disjunctions like Either Mary isn’t pregnant or (she is) and it doesn’t show. The optional presence of she is (pregnant) – a locally redundant part – is not readily predicted by the non-redundancy condition. These data are even more puzzling if compared to corresponding conditionals like If Mary is pregnant, (#she is and) it doesn’t show where the she is (pregnant) part is unacceptable as predicted by the non-redundancy condition. In response to this puzzle, we propose a solution based on Schlenker’s (2009) parsing-based theory of local contexts. In this system, exhaustifying a sentence can modify the local contexts of its parts. As a consequence of this, she is (pregnant) is actually not redundant in the disjunctive sentence above, provided the latter is exhaustified. As we discuss, this solution is not available in an approach like dynamic semantics where local contexts are computed compositionally from the syntactic structure of the sentence in question (Heim 1983, Beaver 2001; see also Chierchia 2009). Therefore, our solution to the disjunctive puzzle above, if correct, is an argument for the parsing-based approach to local contexts. More in general, redundancy provides a testing ground for these two approaches to local contexts, which are provably equivalent in the domain of presupposition projection (Schlenker 2007, 2009). We discuss also other issues that the disjunctive case above raises in connection to exhaustification, presupposition projection, and the calculation of alternatives.

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    May 19th, 2014

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    No LFRG this week  

    There will be no LFRG meeting this week.

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    May 12th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 5/12 - Suyeon Yun  

    Speaker: Suyeon Yun
    Title: Consonant Cluster Splittability in English
    Date/Time: Monday, May 12, 5pm
    Location: 32-D831

    When English speakers express incredulousness, annoyance, etc., they may insert a schwa in the middle of initial consonant cluster, e.g., ‘please’ —> `p-uh-lease’. In this talk I report results of a rating study that investigates acceptability of the schwa insertion in all types of initial clusters existing in English, and discuss what the significant predictors for the epenthesis are.

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    May 12th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 5/15 - Wataru Uegaki  

    Speaker: Wataru Uegaki
    Title: Cross-linguistic variation in the strategies of forming alternative questions: Japanese and beyond
    Date/Time: Thursday, May 15, 12:30-1:45p
    Location: 32-D461

    (This is a practice talk for SALT.)

    As Gracanin-Yuksek puts it in her recent WAFL talk, current issues in the syntax and semantics of alternative questions (AltQs) involve two main questions: whether AltQs involve deletion and whether they involve a covert scoping operation. Along these two dimensions, there are (at least) three analytic possibilities existing in the literature for the compositional semantic derivation of an English AltQ. One possibility is to analyze the disjunction as undergoing some form of covert scoping operation (Quantifying-in in Karttunen 1977, Larson 1985; focus semantics in Beck & Kim 2006), making it to take scope over the question-forming operator. The other two possibilities involve deletion in the second disjunct whose underlying structure is larger than its surface appearance. In one analysis, the underlying structure of the AltQ is a coordination of two questions, and no covert scoping operation is needed to derive the AltQ meaning (Pruitt & Roelofsen 2011). The other way is to assume both deletion and a covert scoping operation (Han & Romero 2004).

    This paper contributes to this debate by focusing on AltQs in Japanese, arguing that they are underlyingly disjunctions of polar questions, along the lines of Pruitt and Roelofsen (2011). After presenting a Hamblin-semantic implementation of such an analysis, I will situate the Japanese-type AltQs in the new cross-linguistic typology of AltQs, which takes into account languages that disambiguate AltQs and Yes/No questions using distinct disjunction markers (such as Finnish and Basque). The resulting picture is that languages vary in the strategies they use in forming alternative questions: one with scoping and one with coordination of full CP-questions.

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    May 12th, 2014

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    ESSL 5/15 - Benjamin Storme  

    Speaker: Benjamin Storme
    Title: Present perfective and explicit performatives
    Date/Time: Thursday, May 15, 5:30-7p
    Location: 32-D831

    In this talk, I will propose to extend Lauer (2013)’s analysis of explicit performatives with temporal and aspectual operators from Kratzer (1998) in order to account for the contrast in (1). The performative effect will only arise in LFs with present tense and perfective aspect.

    (1) a. I promise that p. (good as a promise)
    b. #I am promising that p. (bad as a promise)

    I will also propose a revision of the classic analysis of the contrast in (2): the badness of (2a) will no longer be derived by postulating a semantic incompatibility between perfective aspect and present tense (present perfective LFs are needed to derive the contrast in (1)), but by a pragmatic constraint making present perfective LFs unlikely.

    (2) a. #John does his homework. (bad to refer to an event happening at the moment of utterance)
    b. John is doing his homework. (good to refer to an event happening at the moment of utterance)

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    May 12th, 2014

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    LFRG 5/5 - Chris O’Brien  

    Speaker: Chris O’Brien
    Time: Monday, May 5, 12-1:30p
    Location: 66-148
    Title: The online processing of implicatures

    I’ll be discussing two recent papers on the online processing of scalar implicatures (SIs). The first (Huang & Snedeker 2009) uses data from a series of experiments that employ the visual world eye-tracking paradigm to argue that computing an SI exacts a processing cost relative to accessing the basic meaning of a scalar item. However, Degen (2013) argues that this effect only shows up when number terms are made contextually salient. We’ll discuss these studies and what implications they have for our understanding of SIs.

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    May 5th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 5/5 - Richard Futrell and Tim O’Donnell  

    Speakers: Richard Futrell and Tim O’Donnell
    Title: A Tier-Based Probabilistic Phonotactics Model
    Date/Time: Monday, May 5, 5:30pm
    Location: 32-D831

    We present work in progress on a probabilistic generative model of English phonotactics. Augmenting an underlying feature-based N-gram model, we implement a tier-based representation of the kind studied in autosegmental phonology (e.g. Goldsmith, 1976) that allows nonlocal interactions of certain features as in vowel harmony. Local and nonlocal interactions are controlled via a feature geometry embedded in the model. To evaluate our model, we used Mechanical Turk to gather a large dataset of wellformedness ratings for 1000 monosyllabic nonce words. Our generative tier-based model achieves a higher correlation with these human ratings than BLICK. We also test our model on data from Daland et al. (2011), which tests the ability to explain sonority effects, and get performance comparable to the state of the art.

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    May 5th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 5/8 - Sasha Podobryaev  

    Speaker: Sasha Podobryaev (Institut Jean Nicod)
    Title: More on person features of bound pronouns
    Date/Time: Thursday, May 8, 12:30-1:45p
    Location: 32-D461

    The focus of this talk is on the representation and interpretation of person features of bound pronouns. There has been some controversy in the literature about the licensing of such features in sentences like “Only I did my homework”. While some argue that there is a requirement of formal identity between the features of the nominal binder and the bound pronoun (cf. Heim 2008, Kratzer 2009), it has also been suggested by some others (cf. Jacobson 2013 for a recent example) that the features of bound pronouns do not depend on the features of their binders in any direct way.

    Relying primarily on the evidence from Collins and Postal 2012, I show that both approaches are valid to a certain extent. I argue that there are at least two kinds of person features that can show up on bound pronouns: features of referential indices (cf. Minor 2011, Sudo 2012) licensed under identity with the features of the binder, and presuppositional head features (cf. Sauerland 2008, a.o.) that are licensed independently.

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    May 5th, 2014

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    ESSL 5/8 - Teresa Guasti  

    Speaker: Teresa Guasti
    Time: Thursday, May 8, 5-6:30p (Note special time)
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Sensitivity to syntactic structure and contrastive stress in children’s sentence continuation

    The full abstract is available (pdf).

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    May 5th, 2014

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    Linguistics Colloquium 5/9 - Julie Legate  

    Speaker: Julie Legate (UPenn)
    Title: Noncanonical Passives
    Date/Time: Friday, May 9, 3:30-5p
    Location: 32-141

    In this talk, I investigate the syntactic structure of voice, focusing on noncanonical passives; I build on previous work by myself and others showing that voice is encoded in a functional projection, VoiceP, which is distinct from, and higher than, vP. I demonstrate that microvariation in the properties of VoiceP explains a wide range of noncanonical passives, including agent-agreeing passives, restricted agent passives, accusative object passives, impersonals, and object voice. The analysis draws on data from a typologically diverse set of languages.

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    May 5th, 2014

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    LFRG 4/28 - Roman Feiman  

    Speaker: Roman Feiman (Harvard)
    Time: Monday, April 28, 12-1:30
    Place: 66-148
    Title: How abstract is LF? Differences between quantifiers, similarities between operations

    Recent work in psycholinguistics (Raffray and Pickering, 2010) has shown that Logical Form representations can be primed — that how people resolve one scope ambiguity will affect their resolution of another ambiguity with different noun content. This suggests that once constructed, mental representations of the relationships between quantifiers are abstracted from the specific sentence and can be reused. We extend Raffray and Pickering’s paradigm to investigate priming across ambiguous sentences with varying subject quantifiers, using “Every”, “Each”, “All of the” and bare numerals. Priming aside, we find very large differences in the overall biases of these quantifiers to take wide or narrow scope relative to an indefinite object quantifier — large enough to swamp many others factors that have been argued to drive scope ambiguity resolution (e.g. linear order, c-command, thematic hierarchy). We also find that LF representations can be primed for all quantifiers, and that the priming is of the same magnitude for all of them, but only as long as the quantifier words in prime and target trials are the same. This finding suggests that the priming paradigm targets a common operation (like QR), which can act on all quantifiers equally. At the same time, we find no priming across sentences with different quantifiers (except from one bare numeral to another), suggesting that all of the quantifier words we tested have separate representations at LF, and that the common operation responsible for within-quantifier priming is unparsimoniously stored, redundant within the lexical entry of each quantifier. Taken together, these findings call for a different kind of theory of LF — one where there are generalized quantifiers and common operations applying to them (with these operations stored lexically), but also one where differences between individual quantifiers have a strong effect on their scoping behavior.

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    April 28th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 4/29 - Mia Nussbaum  

    Speaker: Mia Nussbaum
    Title: A “that-trace effect” in Welsh
    Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 29, 1-2p
    Location: 32-D461

    A-bar extraction in Welsh, both short- and long-distance, shows a certain subject/non-subject asymmetry: subject extraction requires a special non-agreeing verb form. I develop a Pesetsky and Torrego (2001)-style analysis, whereby movement of a nominative wh-phrase preempts T-to-C movement and results in the observed lack of agreement. I then look at the subjects of focused and copular sentences, and the interaction between long-distance wh-extraction and the so-called “focus complementizer”.

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    April 28th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 5/1 - Norvin Richards  

    Speaker: Norvin Richards
    Title: Prosody and scrambling in Tagalog
    Date/Time: Thursday, May 1, 12:30-1:45p
    Location: 32-D461

    I’ll present an overview of the basics of Tagalog prosody, comparing Tagalog with Irish as described by Elfner (2012). We’ll also see how prosody is affected by Tagalog scrambling, and I’ll offer a hypothesis about why some languages have this type of scrambling and others don’t; the idea will be that we can predict, once we know everything about the prosody of a language, whether it will have scrambling.

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    April 28th, 2014

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    Linguistics Colloquium 5/2 - Matt Gordon  

    Speaker: Matt Gordon (UC Santa Barbara)
    Title: The tonal phonology of Koasati: Hybrid prominence and prosodic typology
    Date/Time: Friday, May 2, 4:15-5:45p (Note special time)
    Location: 32-141

    Although prosodic systems have traditionally been bifurcated into two camps, those with stress and those with tone, recent advances in our typological knowledge paint a far richer picture of prosodic variation, including languages with neither stress nor tone, languages blending stress and tone, and diverse types of interactions between intonation and stress/tone. In this talk, I will discuss ongoing research with Jack Martin (College of William and Mary) on the prosodic system of Koasati, an endangered Muskogean language spoken in Louisiana and Texas. Koasati words and utterances feature a complex array of pitch events, most of which are attributed to a combination of lexical/grammatical tone and intonational boundary tones. Some, however, are suggestive of pitch accents projected from a word-level stress system. Two recurrent themes hold of tonal events contributed by each of these prosodic systems: an avoidance of tonal crowding and tonal polarity effects whereby a high tone is accompanied by a leading low tone. The talk will compare from a diachronic perspective Koasati’s multidimensional prosodic system to the strikingly diverse set of prosodic systems found within the Muskogean family and beyond.

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    April 28th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 4/22 - Ryo Masuda  

    Speaker: Ryo Masuda
    Title: Pitch perturbation in Japanese
    Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 22, 3pm (Note special date/time)
    Location: 32-D831

    Cross-linguistically, the fundamental frequency of vowels following voiced obstruents is lower than following voiceless stops, a phenomenon called pitch perturbation (House & Fairbanks 1953). It has been posited as a pathway to tonogenesis (Haudricourt 1954) and has been shown to be a cue to distinguish stop voicing contrasts for listeners (Whalen et al 1993). It is plausible, then, that pitch may be exploited by speakers as a dimension for phonetic enhancement (Kingston & Diehl 1994) in realizing a stop voicing contrast. In this talk I present phonetic production and corpus work on Japanese, investigating such an interaction between f0 and voicing in a pitch accent language.

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    April 22nd, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 4/24 - Tianshan Dai  

    Speaker: Tianshan Dai (Shenzhen Polytechnic University)
    Title: The Taoist Perspective of Chomsky’s Philosophy of Language
    Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 24, 12:30-1:45p
    Location: 32-D461

    In this talk, I will discuss and interpret some of the lines from Chuang Tzu’s writings about the nature of language, children’s acquisition of language, language’s communicative function and meaning, etc. I compare Chuang Tzu’s Taoist philosophy of language with that of Chomsky, pointing out many striking similarities between the two, which shed light on both historical traditions between the east and the west. I conclude in the talk that the Plato’s problem or the Descartes’ problem in the west could be appropriately labeled Chuang Tzu’s problem in the east, and the development of generative linguistics can serve as a modern interpretation of Chuang Tzu’s Taoist philosophy of language.

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    April 22nd, 2014

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    LFRG 4/24 - Benjamin Storme  

    Speaker: Benjamin Storme
    Title: Deriving Greenberg’s Universal 45
    Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 24, 5:30-7p
    Location: 32-D831

    In this talk, I will propose a model deriving Greenberg’s universal 45 about the interaction of gender and number in third person pronouns.

    (1) Greenberg’s universal 45: If there are any gender distinctions in the plural of the pronoun, there are some gender distinctions in the singular also.

    The general idea will be that, lexicon size being equal, a lexicon with more gender distinctions in the singular is more efficient in terms of anaphora resolution than a lexicon with more distinctions in the plural, because of the higher frequency of use of singular pronouns. The specific proposal will be implemented using a grammar generating pronoun meanings with gender presuppositions and a harmonic grammar regulating the mappings from those meanings to lexicons via two constraints (“Minimize lexicon size” and “Maximize the number of correct anaphora resolutions”). Finally, I will discuss possible extensions of this model to treat grammatical gender in addition to semantic gender, to deal with mixed-gender pronouns (they seem to be rare cross-linguistically), and to derive the primitive gender predicates.

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    April 22nd, 2014

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    Colloquium 4/25 - Richard Kayne  

    Speaker: Richard Kayne (NYU)
    Title: The Silence of Projecting Heads
    Date/Time: Friday, Apr 25, 3:30-5p
    Location: 32-141

    Examination of sentence-final particles, complementizers, up/down-type particles, modal elements like ‘need’, the nominal character of agreement morphemes, aspect, tense, adjectives and adverbs, determiners, adpositions, focus and topic, derivational suffixes and light verbs leads to the conclusion that a preponderance of projecting syntactic heads are silent.

    I suggest that we understand this to reflect the simpler fact that all syntactically projecting heads are silent. That simpler fact derives in turn from the fact that, for reasons having to do with the systematic antisymmetry-based association of Merge with temporal order, phonological material cannot be bundled together with a syntactic feature in a single node.

    If so, then temporal order must be part of core syntax, as is suggested in any case by cross-linguistic asymmetries concerning backwards pronominalization that feed into interpretation.

    The antisymmetry-based prohibition against feature-bundling simultaneouly has as a consequence the decompositionality principle of Kayne (2005).

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    April 22nd, 2014

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    LFRG 4/14 - Cory Bill  

    Title: Indirect scalar implicatures are neither scalar implicatures nor presuppositions (or both)
    Speaker: Cory Bill (Macquarie University)
    Time: Monday, April 14, 12-1:30
    Place: 66-148

    This paper provides an experimental comparison of indirect scalar implicatures (2-a) with direct scalar implicatures (2-b) and presuppositions (2-c), in both children and adults. The results suggest a three-way distinction between direct SIs, indirect SIs, and presuppositions. This distinction challenges the standard view, which groups both types of SIs on one side and presuppositions on the other, as well as more recent accounts that analyze (certain) presuppositions as being (broadly) on par with SIs (Chemla 2009, Romoli 2012 a.o.).

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    April 14th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 4/15 - Ayaka Sugawara  

    Speaker: Ayaka Sugawara
    Title: A-scrambling, Reconstruction and the Computation of Alternatives under Prosody in Japanese: Evidence from Acquisition
    Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 15, 1-2p
    Location: 32-D461

    (Joint work with Ken Wexler.)

    A major open question in the theory of language acquisition is why children speaking English seem to have difficulty interpreting inverse scope of negation and a universal subject quantifier. Our results contribute both to the solution to this puzzle and provide evidence for particular approaches to the A-movement of Japanese and the theory of contrastive topic. We will argue that children have difficulty with at least some forms of reconstruction, but do not have a problem with interpreting a particular logical form. In Japanese, a scope-rigid language, (1) is unambiguous, while its English counterpart is not.

    (1) Minna-ga siken-o uke-nak-atta.
         Everyone-NOM exam-ACC take-NEG-PAST
         ‘Everyone didn’t take the exam’ (ok“all>not”, *“not>all”)

    One way to get wide scope of negation is to scramble an object over the subject (Miyagawa ‘01, ‘10, a.o.). The scrambled sentence in (2) is ambiguous between the all>not reading (preferred) and the not>all reading (less preferred), while the non-scrambled sentence in (1) does not have the not>all reading.

    (2) [siken-o] minna-ga uke-nak-atta.
         Exam-ACC everyone-NOM take-NEG-PAST
         ‘Everyone didn’t take the exam.’ (ok“all>not” ok“not>all”)

    In Miyagawa’s analysis, (2) receives the not>all reading because it does not violate rigid scope; the scrambled object optionally moves to [Spec, T], leaving the subject in [Spec, v], thus c-commanding negation. If children accept the not>all reading in (2), then they understand the not>all LF and can access it when reconstruction is not necessary. Our first experiment shows that indeed children accept the not>all reading of (2).

    Another way, and the only unambiguous way to obtain the not>all reading is to have a high pitch contour on the universal quantifier followed by a topic marker –wa (Contrastive Topic), as in (3) (Hara ‘06, Nakanishi ‘07, a.o.). The not>all reading is derived by adopting Büring’s (1997) Alternative Semantics approach to German Topic-Focus sentences.

    (3) [Minna-wa]_F siken-o uke-nak-atta.
         Everyone-TOP exam-ACC take-NEG-PAST
         ‘Everyone didn’t take the exam’ (*“all>not”, ok“not>all”)

    Our second experiment shows that children completely fail to get the unambiguous not>all reading in (3). The difficulty seems to be related to the same type of “alternatives comparison” difficulty that is the major explanation of children’s difficulties with scalar implicatures.

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    April 14th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch 4/17 - Ciro Greco  

    Speaker: Ciro Grego (Ghent University & University of Milano-Bicocca)
    Title: Wh-clustering and the role of coordination in Italian multiple wh-questions
    Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 17, 12:30-1:45p
    Location: 32-D461

    Please see the full abstract here (pdf).

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    April 14th, 2014

    Posted in Talks

    No ESSL this week  

    There will be no ESSL session this week.

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    April 14th, 2014

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    Ling-Lunch Special Session 4/19 - Caroline Heycock  

    Speaker: Caroline Heycock (University of Edinburgh)
    Title: The problem is agreement
    Date/Time: Friday, Apr 19, 3-4p (Note special date and time)
    Location: 32-D461

    In his recent colloquium, Marcel den Dikken outlined some of the striking - and different - agreement patterns that are found in English and Dutch in the kind of specificational sentences in (1):

    1. a. The problem is your parents.
        b. The culprit is you.

    2. onze grootste zorg {zijn/*is} de kinderen
         our biggest worry {are/*is} the children
         `Our biggest worry is the children.’

    The requirement for number agreement with the second DP in Dutch (even in contexts which exclude V2) seems to accord well with the proposal that in these cases the initial DP is a predicate, as in the influential analysis developed by from Williams 1983, Partee 1987, Heggie 1988, Moro 1997 and many others.

    In this talk I will present current work, much of it done in collaboration with Jutta Hartmann (Tübingen) in which we have begun to explore the agreement possibilities of these sentences in a number of different Germanic languages, and I will argue that while the facts indeed support an inversion analysis of specificational sentences, the initial nominal does not in fact show the properties of a predicate of the usual kind, but instead behaves like a Concealed Question, as proposed in Romero (2005, 2007).

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    April 14th, 2014

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    LFRG 4/7 - Justin Khoo  

    Speaker: Justin Khoo (MIT Philosophy)
    Title: Backtracking counterfactuals, revisited
    Date/Time: Monday, Apr 7, 12-1:30p
    Location: 66-148

    Backtracking interpretations of counterfactuals are weird, but very real. Under a backtracking interpretation, we evaluate the counterfactual by making the requisite changes to how its antecedent would have had to have come about, and then play out the resulting scenario to see whether its consequent would thereby be made true.

    For instance, consider the following scenario from Frank Jackson: you see your friend Smith on the ledge of the roof of a twenty story building, poised to jump. Thankfully, he doesn’t! You feel relief, and say to yourself,

    (1) If Smith had jumped, he would have died.

    It seems pretty clear that the counterfactual you utter is true. Yet now suppose that a mutual friend Beth is also on the scene. Beth objects to your claim on the following grounds. “Smith would have jumped only if there had been a net below to catch him safely. Hence, (1) is false, and instead the following is true:

    (2) If Smith had jumped, he would have lived.”

    Beth’s utterance of (2) is true on its backtracking interpretation, while your utterance of (1) is true on its non-backtracking interpretation.

    I am interested in the conditions under which backtracking interpretations of counterfactuals arise and why they only arise in such conditions. Related to this is the following troubling issue: given that counterfactuals are so semantically flexible, how do we ever communicate using them?

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    April 7th, 2014

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    Phonology Circle 4/7 - Benjamin Storme  

    Speaker: Benjamin Storme
    Title: Explaining the distribution of French mid vowels
    Date/Time: Monday, Apr 7, 5:30p
    Location: 32-D831

    In French, mid vowels have a peculiar distribution (often called the “loi de position”), with closed mids [e, ø, o, ə] tending to occur in open syllables not followed by schwa and open mids [ɛ, œ, ɔ] in open syllables followed by schwa and in closed syllables. Making sense of this distribution requires addressing the two following questions:

    a. Why should syllable structure be relevant for the distribution of vowels along F1?
    b. Why do open syllables followed by schwa pattern with closed syllables rather than with open syllables?

    In this talk, I will present results of two experiments suggesting that the relationship between vowel quality and syllable structure cannot be derived via duration alone, as hypothesized in most phonological accounts (Morin 1986, Fery 2003, Scheer 2006 among others). Closed mids and open mids do not appear to have a special duration apart from that contributed by F1. Also, French does not seem to have a closed syllable vowel shortening effect.

    Instead, I will propose that the relationship between vowel quality and syllable structure can be understood in terms of the perceptual requirements of vowels and consonants. Consonants that are poorly cued by their release transitions require good closure transitions. Building on work by Burzio (2007) and Lisker (1999) on English, I will argue that longer and lower vowels provide better closure transitions than shorter and higher ones. This will derive the preference for open mids and the absence of schwa in closed syllables and open syllables followed by schwa. When the release transitions are good enough, then no pressure is imposed on preceding vowels and the vowel inventory that is best dispersed along F2 and maximizes the number of duration contrasts, namely the inventory with closed mids and schwa, is chosen. This proposal will be formulated using the OT implementation of Dispersion Theory by Flemming (2004).

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    April 7th, 2014

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    Syntax Square 4/8 - Annie Gagliardi  

    Speaker: Annie Gagliardi (Harvard)
    Title: Reconciling two kinds of subject-object asymmetries
    Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 8, 1-2p
    Location: 32-D461

    Built into the grammatical architecture of any language we find constraints on possible structures. The processing system that uses these structures appears to have inherent preferences in how we interpret them. By looking at a domain where there exists tension between what constraints a learner might expect their language to conform to and the interpretations that are easier to arrive at, we can learn more about what a learner’s own abilities and expectations contribute to language acquisition. In this talk we look at one case where grammatical constraints pull in the opposite direction of the preferences of the system using those constraints: A-bar extraction of transitive subjects. In particular, we look at the comprehension of relative clauses by children and adults in Q’anjob’al, Mayan language where extraction of ergative marked subjects is reportedly banned. Results of a comprehension experiment with adults and children suggest that this tension does affect language acquisition, and may effect language change.

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    April 7th, 2014

    Posted in Talks