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The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 12/5 - Carolyn Spadine  

Speaker: Carolyn Spadine (MIT)
Title: Source-of-information applicatives in Tigrinya: A preliminary analysis of il:-u/-a
Time: Monday, December 5, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461
Abstract: here (PDF)

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December 5th, 2016

Posted in Talks

Phonology Circle 12/5 - Adam Albright  

Speaker: Adam Albright (MIT)
Title: Why do speakers try to predict the unpredictable?
Time: Monday, December 5th, 5:00–6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

(Joint work with Michelle Fullwood (MIT) and Jongho Jun (Seoul National University))

Generative phonology traditionally distinguishes two types of feature values: (1) unpredictable, or contrastive values, and (2) contextually predictable values. Unpredictable values are listed in the lexicon as arbitrary properties of morphemes, whereas predictable values are assigned or enforced by grammar. However, statistical studies of lexicons have revealed that contrastive feature values are often surprisingly predictable. For example, Ernestus and Baayen (2003) observed that although stem-final obstruent voicing is nominally contrastive in Dutch, it is actually fairly predictable based on the obstruent’s place and continuancy, and the preceding vowel’s quality. Furthermore, speakers are aware of this predictability, and can use it to judge likely voicing values for stem-final obstruents in nonce words. Similar results have been found for contrasts in numerous other languages, including Korean stem-final continuancy and laryngeal features Jun (2010), Spanish mid vowel vs. diphthong contrasts (Albright et al. 2001), and others. These results support a model in which phonological grammars attempt to predict at least some contrastive feature values.

In this study, we ask why there is this redundancy between the grammar and the lexicon. One possibility is data compression (Rasin and Katzir 2015, and others); if the grammar can exploit statistical asymmetries to predict certain feature values, they need not be listed in the lexicon. Maximal compression is achieved if the grammar supplies all predictable feature values. An alternative possibility is that values must be predicted when there is neutralization. In Dutch, stem-final obstruents undergo final devoicing, so speakers must sometimes guess the voicing of a stem-final obstruent, based on the neutralized singular form. Under this account, the grammar must supply only those feature values that are neutralized in the singular. We test the predictions of these accounts by comparing the predictability of feature values that are subject to neutralization in different languages. We compare place, continuancy, and laryngeal contrasts in Korean, Dutch, and English. In English, all three features contrast word-finally (with numerous specific restrictions), whereas in Dutch, voicing is neutralized, and in Korean, continuancy and laryngeal features are both neutralized in this position.

In order to test predictability, we extracted the most frequent items in each language (5018 Korean nouns; 5151 Dutch nouns; 5085 English words). When trained the Minimal Generalization Learner (Albright and Hayes 2002) to predict the values of various features based on remaining features of the segment in question, and the preceding context. We then wug-tested the resulting grammars, to determine whether feature values get more predictable at lower frequencies. The reasoning is that, as with morphological regularity, low frequency words should be less able to sustain exceptionality, and should therefore reflect grammatical preferences. The results show that although overall predictability does tend to be higher for neutralizing features, neutralizing and non-neutralizing features both get more predictable at lower frequencies, as predicted by the data compression model. Neutralization may increase the likelihood that a speaker will need to use their grammar to predict an `unpredictable’ feature, but it is not a prerequisite to learning and enforcing such generalizations.

 

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December 5th, 2016

Posted in Talks

LFRG 12/7 - Mitya Privoznov  

Speaker: Mitya Privoznov (MIT)
Time: Wednesday, December 5th, 1-2pm
Place: 32-D831
Title: Discussion of Aloni and Port’s 2006 and 2014 papers on epistemic indefinites

English someone can give rise to the speaker’s ignorance implicature (Somebody arrived late —> the speaker doesn’t know who). Some of its analogues in other languages, e.g. German `irgendein’ or Russian `kto-to’, have conventionalized this implicature into an inference. Namely, the ignorance inference became a part of their semantics. And it is these elements that Aloni and Port call epistemic indefinites (EIs).

The ignorance inference is the main focus of Aloni and Port’s papers. They are proposing an analysis that derives this inference with the use of Aloni (2001)’s theory of concepts and conceptual covers. They argue that EI represent a special case of domain widening.

 
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December 5th, 2016

Posted in Talks

Enoch Aboh at MIT  

Enoch Aboh (University of Amsterdam) will be visiting our department this week and will give two talks.

  • The role of vulnerable interfaces in language change: the case of the C-, and D-systems
    • Date: Wednesday, December 7
    • Time: 2—5pm
    • Location: TBA
    • Reading: Chapters 5-6 of Enoch (2015),  The Emergence of Hybrid Grammars: Language contact and change
  • The emergence of serial verb constructions
    • Date: Friday, December 9
    • Time: 1:30—3:15pm
    • Location: TBA
    • Reading: chapter 7 of Enoch (2015)

For more information, please contact Michel DeGraff (degraff@mit.edu).

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December 5th, 2016

Posted in Talks

Ling-Lunch 12/8 - Jenneke Van Der Wal  

Speaker: Jenneke van der Wal (Harvard)
Title: The AWSOM and RANDOM in Bantu object marking
Time: Thursday, December 8/12:30pm-1:50pm
Location: 32-D461
Abstract:

Many Bantu languages mark objects on the verb by a prefix agreeing in noun class:

(1) N-a-va-et-eaa anca mUhUmba. [Nyaturu, Hualde 1989]
1SG.SM-PAST-2OM-bring-APPL 2.girls 1.boy

‘I brought the girls a boy.’

However, object marking (OM) shows fascinating microvariation across Bantu, along the following parameters:

1. the nature of the OM: doubling / non-doubling
(OM and DP can co-occur in the same domain in Nyaturu = doubling);
2. the behaviour in ditransitives: asymmetric / symmetric
(only benefactive and not theme can be OM-ed in Nyaturu = asymmetric);
3. the number of object markers allowed: one/two/multiple
(Nyaturu is restricted to one).

This talk maps the parameter settings of 50+ Bantu languages, revealing two gaps:

Asymmetry Wants Single Object Marking correlation (AWSOM)
→ Almost no language has multiple markers that are doubling.
Relation between Asymmetry and Non-Doubling Object Marking (RANDOM)

→ No language has non-doubling asymmetrical object marking.

I argue that these gaps are in fact not random, but can be understood as obligatory marking of salience, in the form of a [Person] feature in either the non-clausal domain (doubling) or the clausal domain (symmetry)

(The abstract can also be read here.)

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December 5th, 2016

Posted in Talks

Heidi Harley at MIT  

Heidi Harley (University of Arizona, MIT PhD ‘95) will be visiting the department this week. In addition to her Colloquium talk on Friday, she will be offering a mini-course on head movement. Details below:

Speaker: Heidi Harley (University of Arizona)
Title: Report from the bleeding edge of the head movement debate
Time: Wednesday, December 7th and Thursday, December 8th, 2016, 5:00-6:30 pm
Place: 32-124 (Wed), 32-144 (Thurs)
Abstract:

I will review and discuss various models of head-movement and the evidence that has been brought to bear on them, including but not limited to conflation (Hale&Keyser 2002, Harley 2004), remnant movement (Zeller 2013), (phrasal mvt +) m-merger (Matushansky 2004, Harizanov 2014, Harley and Folli ms), and traditional head-adjunction (Keine and Bhatt 2016), or some combination of different mechanisms (Harley 2013, Gribanova and Harizanov 2016handout). In doing so, I’ll talk about the idea that head-movement does or does not have syntacticosemantic (LF) effects, and if it does, what they are and why, borrowing heavily on a presentation by McCloskey including some discussion of LaCara (2016), Hartman (2011), Gribanova (ms), Lechner (2007), as well as Keine and Bhatt (2016)).

A reading packet is attached for people to browse at will if they want but I’m not going to assume attendees will have read any of it. The ones I most highly recommend for the interested are the Keine and Bhatt 2016 on German verb clusters and the Zeller 2013 on Zulu relatives; Harizanov 2014 on Bulgarian clitics and Gribanova (2016ms) on Russian ellipsis & polarity-licensing are interesting too. Not to be discussed but included because it’s mind-blowingly weird are the results of Lipták 2013, 2016handout, on the (failure of) the verbal identity condition on VPE in Hungarian).



Readings:
Keine & Bhatt (2016)
Gribanova (2016)
Liptak (2016)
McCloskey (2016)
Gribanova & Harizanov (2016)
Zeller (2013)
Harley (2013)
Lacara (2016)
Hartmann (2011)
Lechner (2007)

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December 5th, 2016

Posted in Talks

MIT Colloquium 12/9 - Heidi Harley (University of Arizona)  

Speaker: Heidi Harley (University of Arizona)
Title: We don’t need word-internal phase boundaries (for Hiaki)
Time: Friday, December 9th, 3:30-5:00 pm
Place: 32-155
Abstract:

Hiaki verbs exhibit what looks like a word-internal phase boundary, with some, more derivational affixes attaching to a ‘bound’ stem, which only appears with suffixal material attached, and other, inflectional affixes attaching to a ‘free’ stem, which can also appear unsuffixed; a classic type of stem-attaching vs word-attaching dichotomy. The mirror-principle boundary for stem-attaching suffixes located more or less at VoiceP. Only inflectional suffixes can attach outside the passive voice marker, and only derivational ones can attach inside it, and there can only be one Voice marker per verb complex. However, there are problems identifying the bound-stem/free-stem boundary with Voice, particularly having to do with the existence of embedded external arguments within the bound-stem complex in causatives and related forms.

In fact, I will argue that the correct analysis is in a sense precisely the opposite. The particular form taken by bound stems shows evidence of word-level morphophonological processes, such as a word-final fortition of the voiceless affricate, and echo vowels that appear to extend monomoraic stems to satisfy minimal word requirements (or actually probably exhaustive footing requirements). The ‘bound’ stems which appear to the left of Voice morphology behave like independent morphophonological words with respect to these constraints. The ‘free’ stems, in contrast, all have a recently-detectedmorphemic final vowel on them.

I propose that the whole complex verb word is simply a cluster of verbs lined up on the right by the head-final nature of Hiaki. This cluster of verbs is subject to very quotidian inflectional requirements: The highest (rightmost) [+V] head in the domain is attracted to Voice and T (and sometimes C). That head-movement process which creates the ‘free’ forms. That is, the ‘bound’ forms are free, and the ‘free’ forms are all inflected; the only process we need to appeal to is the usual expectation that the highest eligible head in a verbal complementation sequence is the one that moves and inflects. The entire complex is pronounced (and spelled) as a unit, perhaps due to postsyntactic Morphological Merger, perhaps due to the prosodic rules of the language.

​In short, the syntactic picture presented by the apparently complex agglutinative Hiaki verb word is actually most appropriately analyzed in the same way as auxiliary and light verb complexes in left-headed languages. No level-ordering-type of cyclicity hypothesis involving word-internal phase boundaries is motivated by this data. This is good, because the notion of a word-internal phase boundary in a structure created by syntactic head-movement is somewhat problematic, technically speaking. I’ll also exhibit cases from Cupeño and maybe Korean that seem to require analysis in similar terms.
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December 5th, 2016

Posted in Talks

Syntax Square 11/27 - Kenyon Branan & Abdul-Razak Sulemana (MIT)  

Speakers: Kenyon Branan & Abdul-Razak Sulemana (MIT)
Title: Against strength and weakness: Contiguity in Bùlì
Time/date: Monday, November 28, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461
Abstract:

Optionality in Ā-movement has been modeled as the optional presence of a strong feature on C, requiring the wh-phrase it Agrees with to move to its specifier. Recent work [Richards (2016)] models optionality in Ā-movement as true optionality, so long as the choice of movement or not satisfies a condition on prosodic representations, called Contiguity. In this talk, I present novel data from Buli, a Gur language spoken primarily in Ghana, that provides a strong argument for the latter view of optionality. In Buli, wh-phrases may remain in-situ, so long as they are not separated from end of the sentence by a prosodic boundary of any sort. This restriction on wh-in-situ is explained straightforwardly given the Contiguity-theoretic approach, but would require the introduction of an additional constraint on prosodic representations under the “optional feature” approach.
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November 28th, 2016

Posted in Talks

LFRG 11/30 - Verena Hehl  

Speaker: Verena Hehl (MIT)
Time: Wednesday, November 30th, 1-2pm
Place: 32-D831
Title: Discussion of: “On the meaning of some focus-sensitive particles” (Ippolito 2007).

In the paper Ippolito argues that the aspectual, marginality, and concessive uses of ‘still’ and ‘already’ in (1), (2) and (3) can be reduced to the following three classes of focus-sensitive particles: additive particles like ‘too’, scalar particles like ‘even’, exclusive particles like ‘only’.

(1) John is still/ already cooking.
(2) (a) Compact cars are still safe; subcompacts start to get dangerous.
      (b) (Compact cars are still safe.) Subcompacts are already dangerous.
(3) (Even) if the doctor tells him not to, Harry will still run the marathon.

The paper then features a (non-uniform) compositional analysis of the presuppositions triggered by ‘still/ already’ that sheds (new?) lights on the focus-sensitive particle ‘again’.

 
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November 28th, 2016

Posted in Talks

Ling-Lunch 12/1 — Amy Rose Deal  

Speaker: Amy Rose Deal (UC Berkeley)
Tittle: Dedicated de re attitude reports
Date/Time: Thursday, December 1/12:30pm-1:50pm
Location: 32-D461
Abstract

Indefinites occurring in attitude complements can typically be read either de dicto or de re. This choice is commonly treated as a true ambiguity, involving two separate sets of truth conditions corresponding to two distinct LFs, rather than (say) as a case of generality or underspecification based on a single LF. Is the ambiguity approach the correct one? In particular, are there LFs in which indefinites occurring in attitude complements must obligatorily be construed de re? I argue that there are indeed. My argument comes from Nez Perce attitude reports in which the attitude verb shows apparent long distance agreement with a DP inside the attitude complement. This DP must be read de re. The de re reading, I argue, derives from an LF in which the res argument moves into the matrix clause covertly; that is, Nez Perce manifests a (syntactically well-behaved) version of res-movement. Notably, there does not exist an equally syntactically distinguished variety of attitude reporting reserved for de dicto readings. Indefinites that may be read de dicto in Nez Perce may also typically be read de re, without morphosyntactic consequences, as in English. I suggest, then, that the true ambiguity at the level of LF may be between a dedicated de re LF and an LF which is general enough to support either de re or de dicto attitudes.
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November 28th, 2016

Posted in Talks

Enoch Aboh’s visit: December 7—9  

Save the date: Enoch Aboh (University of Amsterdam) will visit our department in December and will give two talks.

  • The role of vulnerable interfaces in language change: the case of the C-, and D-systems
    • Date: Wednesday, December 7
    • Time: 2—5pm
    • Location: TBA
    • Reading: Chapters 5-6 of Enoch (2015),  The Emergence of Hybrid Grammars: Language contact and change
  • The emergence of serial verb constructions
    • Date: Friday, December 9
    • Time: 1:30—3:15pm
    • Location: TBA
    • Reading: chapter 7 of Enoch (2015)

For more information, please contact Michel DeGraff (degraff@mit.edu).

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November 28th, 2016

Posted in Talks

MIT Colloquium 12/02 - Maribel Romero (Universität Konstanz)  

Speaker: Maribel Romero (Universität Konstanz)
Title: On the many readings of ‘many’
Time/date: Friday, December 2, 3:30-5pm
Location: 32-155
Abstract:

Partee (1989) and a long tradition thereafter distinguish two readings of many and its antonym few: the cardinal reading (1a) and the proportional reading (1b), with n and ρ as context- dependent parameters. These readings are exemplified against scenario (2). Sentence (3) is judged true in virtue of its cardinal reading and sentence (4) in virtue of its proportional reading:

(1) Many Ps are Q.
a. CARDINAL reading: |P∩Q| > n, where n is a large natural number.
b. PROPORTIONAL reading: |P∩Q| : |P| > ρ, where ρ is a large proportion.

(2) Scenario: All the faculty children were at the 1980 picnic, but there were few faculty children back then. Almost all faculty children had a good time.
(3) There were few faculty children at the 1980 picnic.
a. Cardinal: true in (2)
b. Proportional: false in (2)

(4) Many (of the) faculty children had a good time.
a. Cardinal: false in (2)
b. Proportional: true in (2)

Additionally, Westerståhl (1985) famously noted a third interpretation of many, known in the literature as the ‘reverse’ proportional reading (see also Herburger 1997, Cohen 2001). This is exemplified in (5)-(6). Sentence (6) is judged true in scenario (5) in virtue not of its cardinal or proportional reading, but in virtue of its reverse proportional reading paraphrased in (6a) and formulated in (7):

(5) Scenario: Of a total of 81 Nobel Prize winners in literature, 14 come from Scandinavia.
(6) Many Scandinavians have won the Nobel Prize in literature.
a. Intuitive paraphrase of the reverse proportional: ‘Many of the Nobel Prize winners are Scandinavians ’

(7) Many Ps are Q.
REVERSE PROPORTIONAL reading: |P∩Q| : |Q| > ρ, where ρ is a large proportion.

This third reading is problematic for semantic theory no matter whether many is treated as a determiner or as adjectival in nature. If treated as a (parametrized) determiner (cf. Hackl 2000), the lexical entries corresponding to the three readings above will be as in (8). While the cardinal and proportional lexical entries (8a)-(8b) obey Conservativity, defined in (9), the reverse proportional reading (8c) does not, thus challenging the Conservativity Universal (Keenan & Stavi 1986, cf. Barwise & Cooper 1981:U3):

(8) Many as a parametrized determiner:
a. Cardinal:
b. Proportional:
c. Reverse proportional:

λdd. λP. λQ. |P∩Q| ≥ d
λdd. λP. λQ. |P∩Q| : |P| ≥ d λdd. λP. λQ. |P∩Q| : |Q| ≥ d

(9) A determiner denotation f is conservative iff, for any sets of individuals P and Q: f (P)(Q)=1 iff f (P)(P∩Q)=1

If treated as adjectival (cf. Hackl 2009), the lexical entries corresponding to the cardinal and proportional reading can be formulated as in (10a)-(10b). But a serious compositionality problem arises for the reverse proportional reading, since a proportion over |Q| has to be computed while having no λQ-argument in the adjectival entry (10c):

(10) Many as adjective:
a. Cardinal:
b. Proportional:
c. Reverse proportional:

λdd. λP. λxe. P(x) ∧ |x|≥d
λdd. λP. λxe. P(x) ∧ |x|:|P| ≥ d λdd. λP. λxe. P(x) ∧ |x|:|Q| ≥ d ???

Treating many as a determiner, Romero (2015) decomposes many into the determiner stem MANY plus the degree operator POS, and derives the reverse proportional reading from the conservative proportional entry (8b) and independently motivated association patterns of POS. The present talk extends Romero’s analysis in two new directions. First, POS is allowed to associate not just with overt elements in the sentence but also with a world variable. This move, necessary to account for examples like (11), allows us to derive certain difficult cases of apparent reverse proportional readings remaining in the literature. Second, Romero’s (2015) analysis is extended to attributive uses like (12). Using the adjectival entries in (10a)- (10b) and allowing the same association possibilities for POS as in non-attributive uses, different readings are predicted and shown to arise.

(11) For what I had wished for, few students came.

(12) The many demonstrators protested loudly.
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November 28th, 2016

Posted in Talks

LFRG 11/23 - Keny Chatain  

Speaker: Keny Chatain (MIT)
Time: Wednesday, November 23th, 1-2pm
Place: 32-D831
Title: Discussioon of: “Incremental quantification and the dynamics of pair-list phenomena” (Bumford, 2015).

In this talk, I will discuss a recent paper by Bumford (No reading required but in case you prefer authencity, you might want to check this: http://semprag.org/article/view/sp.8.9/pdf_8_9). This paper attempts to provide a unified account of 3 “pair-list” phenomena: pair-list questions, internal readings of adjectives and pair-list readings of indefinites (aka “Schlenker readings)

PAIR-LIST
(1) What did each student read for the class?
=> mary checked the syntax paper, Julia the phonology paper, Joe the first line of the abstract of the semantic paper…

INTERNAL ADJECTIVES
(2) Every year, Mary wrote a more interesting book/a different book/another book.
=> more interesting than/different from/other than the books from the previous year

PAIR-LIST READING OF INDEFINITES
(3) If every player were to play a certain card in his hand right now, the game would end immediately.
=> there is a certain card in each player’s hand such that if each player use that card in his hand, the game would end immediately.

In the paper, a unified account is proposed in terms of incremental quantification: “every” is represented as a generalized dynamic conjunction. In this approach, uttering (2) is equivalent to uttering the sequence of sentences: Mary wrote a more interesting book in 2006; Mary wrote a more interesting book in 2007; Mary wrote a more interesting book in 2008; … Modulo extra assumptions about scope-taking, this move, it is claimed, successfully accounts for (1), (2) and (3). On a theoretical side, this makes “every” parallel to indefinites like “a”, which dynamic frameworks treat as generalized dynamic disjunction.

 
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November 21st, 2016

Posted in Talks

Syntax Square 11/14 - Isa Bayirli  

Speaker: Isa Bayirli
Title: On gender and concord
Time/date: Nov. 14, 2016, 1:00-2:00pm
Location: 32-D461
Abstract:

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Feature Assignment Rule (Pesetsky, 2013: 8) is defined for every grammar and that it is the only mechanism responsible for the concord phenomenon (i.e. the feature co-variance between a noun and the modifying adjectives)

(1) Feature Assignment (FA), version 1 of 6:
a.Copying: when α merges with β, forming [α β] with the label α, the grammatical features of α are immediately copied on β
b.Realization:…and are realized as morphology on all lexical head items dominated by β

Suppose, moreover, that in a language where the overt effects of the FA Rule is invisible (i.e. the non-concord languages), the NP (with all the AdjPs inside it) is a protected domain of some kind.

(2) The Absence of Concord: A language lacks concord on the adjectives only if the NP in this language is a protected domain

To support these suppositions, one would need to provide evidence of (at least) three types:

Type 1: Evidence indicating that concord is universally calculated over syntactic representations as implied by the FA Rule (with no reference to feature values)
Type 2: Evidence indicating that whenever we do not observe concord in a language, the NP in this language is, indeed, a protected domain
Type 3: Evidence indicating that whenever NP cannot be protected from the application of the FA Rule in a language we do observe concord in this language

Previously at Syntax Square, I presented evidence of Type 1 (The Concord Hierarchy) and of Type 2 (The Concord-Suspension Complementarity), both of which I will briefly summarize.

In this talk, I will present some evidence of Type 3. NPs can be protected from the features coming from the functional projections but not from the features that start on the noun head. That is, if a feature f starts out on the noun head, then the universality of the FA-rule implies that - in the usual case - it will show up on all the adjectives adjoined to the NP. Assuming the gender feature, in those languages where it is idiosyncratic, starts out on the noun head, we get:

(3) Idiosyncratic Gender Generalization (IGG): A language with an idiosyncratic gender system is a language with gender concord

I first discuss some evidence for the validity of IGG. I then report a typological survey based on World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) in support of the IGG generalization. I finally discuss some problematic cases (Gur languages of Niger-Kongo Family). I argue that the solution I sketch for these problematic cases are motivated on independent grounds.
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November 14th, 2016

Posted in Talks

Phonology Circle 11/14 - Cora Lesure  

Speaker: Cora Lesure (MIT)
Title: La Morfología y la Ortografía del Chuj // Morphophonology and Orthographic Development in Chuj (Mayan)
Date/Time: Monday, November 14, 5:00–6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

This is a practice talk for FAMLi 4 (Form and Analysis in Mayan Linguistics 4) where I will be giving the same talk but in Spanish. The aim of the talk is to present theoretically interesting work on Chuj morphophonology which is understudied, as well as illustrate the direct applications of this work to orthographic development. This is done through examining the disputed use of the grapheme `h’ as well as the disputed status of [h] as a phoneme. There are three prevailing ideologies:
1) [h] is not a phoneme and should not be used as a grapheme at all (Buenrostro 2013)
2) [h] is not a phoneme but is used as a grapheme word initially to indicate that glottal stop epenthesis has not occurred (Similar to its use in Q’anjob’al, Mateo Toledo 1995)
3) [h] is a phoneme and should be used as a grapheme word initially and intervocalically (Domingo Pascual 2007)

I examine the positions in which [h] has been reported, namely in word initial position as well as in the vowel initial allomorph of the second person singular ergative prefix: h-, and determine that it is minimally contrastive in specific contexts. Even when it is not present as a segment, due to interactions with the process of root initial glottal stop epenthesis, a contrast remains salient. For example:

1) tzek’i [ts’ek’i]
tz-ø-ek’-i
IMPF-3Abs-pass.by-ITV
‘He passed by’

2) tz(h)ila’ [tsilaʔ]
tz-ø-ø-il-a’
IMPF-3Abs-2Erg-see-TV
‘You saw him’

Above, though both the 3rd person absolutive marker and the 2nd person ergative marker are phonologically null, only the ergative marker prevents glottal stop epenthesis. In (1) glottal stop epenthesis results in the imperfective aspect marker [ts] being pronounced ejective [ts’].

 

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November 14th, 2016

Posted in Talks

LFRG 11/16 - Milo Phillips-Brown  

Speaker: Milo Phillips-Brown (MIT)
Time: Wednesday, November 16th, 1-2pm
Place: 32-D831
Title: Some-things-considered desires

Lu has a test coming up. She believes she’ll pass only if she studies. Studying is boring.

  • (1) Lu wants to pass.
  • (2) But she doesn’t want to study.
  • (1) and (2) are fine together, but standard semantics for ‘want’ predict that they are incompatible. I’ll propose a way to make them compatible. My guiding idea is that when Lu considers what it would be like to pass but ignores what it would be like to study, she prefers passing to not; when she considers what it would be like to study but ignores what it would be like to pass, she prefers not studying to studying. These are some-things-considered (other-things-ignored) desires. We can model them with coarse worlds (= propositions), in place of worlds. Where defined, every proposition, or its negation, is true at a given world. But not every proposition, or its negation, is entailed by a given coarse world. When neither a proposition nor its negation is entailed by a coarse world, it is considered; otherwise it is ignored.

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    November 14th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Ling-Lunch 11/17 — Paul Crowley (MIT)  

    Speaker: Paul Andrew Crowley (MIT)
    Tittle: Neg-Raising and Neg movement
    Date:Thursday, November 17
    Time: 12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    This talk will be concerned with the phenomenon known as Neg-Raising. All previous analyses of Neg-Raising fall into one of two main categories: syntactic and semantic/pragmatic. The syntactic approach derives the effect from a Neg movement operation in the syntax (Fillmore 1963) while the semantic/pragmatic approach derives the effect as an inference attributed to an excluded middle presupposition associated with all Neg-Raising predicates (Bartsch 1973). In this talk, a variety of known and novel data points are argued to indicate that both a Neg movement operation as well as an excluded middle presupposition are necessary to account for the full range data. It’s proposed that the Neg-Raising phenomenon should be attributed to the excluded middle and that the Neg movement operation is dependent on the presence of this presupposition.
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    November 14th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Colloquium 11/18 - Greg Kobele  

    Speaker: Greg Kobele
    Title: The meaning of structure
    Time/date: Friday, November 18th, 2016, 3:30-5:00 pm
    Venue: 32-155
    Abstract:

    One way of viewing syntactic structure is as a real object, something which is constructed and manipulated by the rules of grammar. I take this to be the prevailing view in the transformational tradition. An alternative perspective, found in the categorial tradition (incl Montague), is that syntactic structure is not real in this sense at all, but rather is a record, or a proof, of the way that the grammar licenses a particular sound-meaning pair. These different perspectives have lead to different analytical approaches to various phenomena, culminating for example in debates about LF-interpretation vs Direct Compositionality.

    I show (1) how to reformulate standard practice in minimalist syntax in these montagovian terms, (2) how the standard Heim and Kratzer LF-interpretation scheme can be faithfully recast in a directly compositional manner, and (3) how an ‘almost c-command’ approximation to bindability emerges when the basic repertoire of combinatory operations is extended to include the bind operator in the continuation monad (aka Buering’s Argument Saturation operation). A number of prominent theoretical issues find herewith an immediate and straightforward resolution, and this forces us as well to clarify what others might mean.

    Formal consequences of this perspective shift, such as efficient generation, incremental interpretation during parsing, and the efficient resolution of ellipsis in discourse processing are touched upon.
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    November 14th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 11/7 - Christopher Hammerly  

    Speaker: Christopher Hammerly (UMass Amherst)
    Title: Unifying agreement across clause types in Ojibwe
    Date/time: Monday, Nov. 7, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461

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    November 7th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 11/07 — Gašper Beguš  

    Speaker: Gašper Beguš
    Title: Unnatural Trends in the Lexicon: Diachrony and Synchrony
    Date/Time: November 7, 5pm—6:30 pm
    Location: 32-D831
    Abstract: pdf

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    November 7th, 2016

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    LFRG 11/9 — Chris Baron  

    Speaker: Chris Baron
    Title: A Prospective Puzzle and a Possible Solution
    Date and time: November 9 (Wednesday), 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D831
    Abstract:

    It is generally assumed that Mayan languages are tenseless, and only grammaticalize aspect (Henderson 2015). This assumption holds for Kaqchikel, a K’ichean-branch Mayan language of Guatemala (García Matzar & Rodriguez Guaján 1997). However, there is a puzzling fact about the ‘prospective aspect’ morpheme xk-, which at first blush would seem to locate the run time of the event after the reference time: it cannot be embedded under the temporal adverbial ‘yesterday.’

    (1) Chwa’q xk-i-muxan.
    tomorrow PROSP-B1S-swim
    ‘Tomorrow, I will swim.’

    (2) *Iwïr xk-i-muxan.
    yesterday PROSP-B1S-swim
    Intended: ‘Yesterday, I was going to swim.’

    The ungrammaticality of (2) is unexpected if the prospective only locates the event time after the reference time established by iwïr ‘yesterday.’ In this talk on work in progress, I present data that suggest that this aspect not only contributes aspectual semantics, but also modal semantics, and that this is the reason for the puzzling fact.

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    November 7th, 2016

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    Ling-Lunch 11/10 — David Erschler  

    Speaker: David Erschler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
    Tittle: Predicting embedded gapping
    Date/Time: Thursday, November 10/12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    I show that in a number of languages gapping can occur in embedded clauses. I argue that this provides support for a movement plus deletion analysis of gapping. The ability of gapping to be embedded in a given language depends on the height of the ellipsis-licensing feature and the availability of a landing site for moved constituents sufficiently high in the embedded clause.

    Gapping is a construction, discovered and named by Ross (1970), where the finite verb is missing from the clause, (1). It is fairly common cross-linguistically.

    (1) Some will eat beans and others will eat rice. Johnson (2009)

    Famously, English and a number of other languages disallow gapping to occur in embedded clauses, Hankamer (1979) and the subsequent literature:

    (2) *Some ate mussels, and she claims that others ate shrimp. Johnson (2009)

    However, the ban on embedding is not universal: adding to the recent work on Persian by Farudi (2013), I show that embedded gapping occurs in several languages including Russian, Georgian, and Ossetic.

    A number of accounts, starting from Jayaseelan (1990), assume that the material that survives gapping moves out of the constituent to be deleted. Some of these analyses, e.g. Aelbrecht (2007), Gengel (2013), and Farudi (2013), use the feature-based approach to ellipsis licensing.

    I use the basic insight of earlier “move and delete” proposals and argue that, in languages that allow embedded gapping, it results from movement of surviving constituents and deletion of the XP that they moved from. A necessary condition for this to occur in embedded clauses is that landing sites are available for such movement. The size of the deleted constituent may vary cross-linguistically. The feature E that triggers deletion is hosted either by some head H, which is a priori either &, i.e. the head of the conjunction phrase, or a head within the clause where the gapping occurs. To trigger deletion, the feature must agree with the head whose complement is to be deleted.

    If the licensing feature is located on &, it fails to agree with material in the embedded clause, for locality reasons. On the other hand, if the feature is located within the clause where ellipsis is to occur, gapping is predicted to be possible. I show that this analysis makes a number of correct predictions about languages with embedded gapping.

    A wider implication of the findings is that an approach that operates in terms of licensing features, their location, and the size of constituents to be deleted is superior to taxonomic approaches to ellipsis.

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    November 7th, 2016

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    Fieldwork Group Meeting — Jenneke van der Wal  

    Speaker: Jenneke van der Wal (University of Cambridge; currently at Harvard)
    Date/Time: Thursday, Nov. 10, 5-6pm in Boylston 303 (Harvard—note the location!)

    At the first Harvard-MIT Fieldwork Group (FiG) meeting of the semester, Jenneke van der Wal will be talking about eliciting focus and information-structural phenomena, based on her work on Bantu languages.

    Please contact either TC (tcchen@mit.edu) or Michelle (yuanm@mit.edu) if you’d like to be added to the FiG listserv.

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    November 7th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 10/31 - Chris O’Brien  

    Speaker: Chris O’Brien (MIT)
    Title: Linearization and complete dominance: Deriving the right-edge restriction on RNR
    Date/Time: Monday, Oct. 31, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    This talk concerns two puzzles involving the multidominant analysis of right-node raising structures (McCawley 1982, Wilder 1999, Bachrach & Katzir 2015, a.o.). The first is how such structures can be assigned a well-formed linear ordering at PF. Following Wilder (1999), I argue that this is because linearization of multi-dominant structures is sensitive to complete dominance. That is, when one phrase A is ordered before a phrase B, everything completely dominated by A must be ordered before everything completely dominated by B.

    The second puzzle concerns the “right-edge restriction” on RNR structures (Wilder 1999, Bachrach & Katzir 2015). It turns out that, while the pivot of an RNR structure may appear in a non-rightmost position within the final conjunct, it must be merged in the rightmost position of of each non-final conjunct. My proposal depends on one crucial property of complete dominance: The notion that x completely dominates y must be defined with respect to some larger structure (or set of structures). I argue that linearization is computed compositionally at each step in the derivation. For any phrase A = Merge(B, C) , where some linear precedence rule says that B < C, then all terminal nodes which are completely dominated by B within A will be required to precede all nodes completely dominated by C within A. This turns out to derive the right-edge restriction. I end with discussion of some recalcitrant problems involving internal merge structures.
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    October 31st, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 10/31 - Ting Huang  

    Speaker: Ting Huang (MIT)
    Title: Contrast and context-dependent merger: Evidence from Malaysian Mandarin sibilants
    Date/Time: Monday, October 31, 5:00–6:30pm
    Location: 32-D831

     

    This study reports an ongoing merger of Mandarin sibilants spoken in Malaysia. The contrast of dental/alveolar vs. palatal sibilants in Malaysian Mandarin (MM) is neutralized in the context of high-front vowel. Specifically, while the contrasts between [ɕa] vs. [sa] and [ɕu] vs. [su] exist, [si] is the only surface form of the coronal sibilant followed by a high-front vowel /i/ ([*ɕi] is not allowed) in MM (we ignored the retroflex sibilants here, which is irrelevant to this study). We provide evidence from palatography and linguography to show a fine-grained difference among these sibilant variants in place of articulation. The results of spectral moments analysis (Forrest et al. 1988; Jongman 2000; Lee 2014) and F2 onset values (Li 2008; Wilde 1993) also support the argument that the MM sibilants are incompletely neutralized, especially for speakers of younger generation. The phenomenon in question may be attributable to language contact-induced sound change. This also casts doubt to the feature-based account (Clements 1991; Hume 1992) in explaining why [-anterior] of [ɕ] can be retained when followed by a following vowel that is specified with [dorsal] (e.g. [u], [a]), but not by those with [coronal] (e.g. [i]). We extend the line in Flemming’s (2003) that tongue-body position should be specified under [coronal], and argue that distinctiveness of sibilant contrasts may rely as well on tongue-body position of vowels.
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    October 31st, 2016

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    LFRG 11/2 - Peter Alrenga  

    Speaker: Peter Alrenga (Boston University)
    Time: Wednesday, November 2nd, 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: At least and at most: Ignorance and variation in focus.

    A hallmark feature of the scalar operators “at least” and “at most” is their capacity to convey speaker uncertainty: from an utterance of (1), a listener would typically infer that the speaker does not know the exact number of points that LeBron scored.

    (1) LeBron scored at least / at most 20 points in last night’s game.

    These uncertainty implications tend to disappear in the presence of modals: under their most salient interpretations, neither (2a) nor (2b) need convey any uncertainty regarding what is necessary or required:

    (2) a. (In order to win the scoring title), LeBron needs to score at least 45 points in tonight’s game.
    b. One person can submit at most one abstract as sole author and one abstract as co-author (or two co-authored abstracts).

    Rather, the most salient interpretations for these sentences convey variation in what the speaker deems to be sufficient or permissible. Similar variation implications can also be observed in combination with nominal quantifiers:

    (3) a. Every player scored at least 10 points in last night’s game.
    b. Individuals can give to as many federal candidates as they want, so long as they give at most $2600 to any single candidate in an election cycle.

    The question of exactly how “at least” and “at most” manage to convey uncertainty and variation in (1)-(3) has attracted considerable scrutiny. Recent work has converged on the view that these implications are implicatures arising from the interaction of the basic semantic properties of at “least / at most” with general pragmatic mechanisms. A near-universal impulse of these pragmatic approaches is to draw an analogy to disjunction, which gives rise to a similar pattern of uncertainty and variation implications. But capitalizing on this analogy has proven surprisingly difficult. In its most direct form, it amounts to the view that “at least” and “at most” form n-ary disjunctions over their associated scalar terms and all higher / lower ones. While such a view correctly characterizes the truth-conditional contribution of “at least”, it appears to to mischaracterize its pragmatic behavior. And without further amendment, it fails to even adequately capture the truth-conditional contributions of “at most”.

    In the first part of this talk, I argue that a version of the simple view can indeed be maintained for “at least”, once it is recognized that (i) the scales that “at least” and “at most” operate over are fundamentally pragmatic/contextual in nature, and (ii) these scales are never ordered by entailment. While the simple n-ary disjunction view cannot be maintained for “at most”, I show how its essential insights into “at most“‘s pragmatic behavior nevertheless can be. In the second part of the talk, I apply the resulting analysis to certain unresolved problems concerning the interactions of these scalar operators with modals and other quantifiers.

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    October 31st, 2016

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    ESSL/LacqLab Meeting 11/01 — Jie Ren  

    Speaker: Jie Ren (Brown University)
    Title: Underspecification in Toddlers’ and Adults’ Lexical Representations
    Date: Tuesday, November 1st
    Time: 1—2pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    Theories of underspecification claim that certain unmarked features are empty/underspecified in lexical representation. This hypothesis predicts asymmetrical judgments in lexical processing. In particular, noncoronal tokens such as paan can putatively activate a coronal entry taan, but not vice versa. Studies with both younger infants and adults had found that participants are more sensitive to noncoronal-to-coronal than to coronal-to-noncoronal changes. In this talk, I will report a series of studies that examined toddlers’ and adults’ sensitivities to these two types of changes in mispronunciations of familiar words using the visual world paradigm. Unlike the prediction of underspecification, 19-month-olds and adults showed significant effects in both directions of mispronunciations, and no asymmetries were attributable to underspecification of coronal sounds. Toddlers’ lexical representations appear to be as detailed as those of adults, and there is a striking developmental continuity between early and mature lexical representations. Finally, I will report a computational model which suggests that discrepancies between the current findings and those of previous studies appear to be due to methodological differences that cast doubt on the validity of claims of psycholinguistic support for underspecification.
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    October 31st, 2016

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    Ling-Lunch 11/03 — Jon Rawski  

    Speaker: Jon Rawski (Stony Brook)
    Tittle: Homeostatic Reinforcement Learning for Harmonic Grammars
    Date/Time: Thursday, November 3/12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    The main idea of this talk is to bridge a particularly thorny divide between linguistics and neuroscience. Reinforcement Learning (RL), despite being one of the most widely used and neurologically robust learning algorithms, has an uneasy history with generative grammar. Specifically, the requirement of an internal, restricted hypothesis space and other learnability restraints is inadequately satisfied by externally defined “naive” reward (Chomsky 1959).

    Reparation of RL and linguistics is made urgent by the discovery that: 1) phonology is at most a regular language (Kaplan & Kay 1994, Heinz 2011), meaning it is restricted to finite-state automata, and 2) RL is perfectly computed by cortical neurons (Schultz et al 1997). One recent attempt is Charles Yang’s (2002) “Naïve Parameter Learner”, which uses RL to successfully model acquisition of overt [WH-movement] and [V2] parameters, yet fails to provide more than an ad-hoc definition for “reward”.

    In this talk I show that recent insights from computational neuroscience offer a possible strategy. A recent framework called Homeostatic Reinforcement Learning (HRL) (Keramati and Gutkin 2014) treats “reward” as an internal satisfaction of multiple, parallel constraints in a homeostatic space. This immediately suggests Harmonic Grammar. I posit that the weighted constraints in Harmonic Grammar constitute a homeostatic space, and the Harmony function is a necessary and sufficient condition for RL in constraint-based grammars. I then show that this model successfully learns final obstruent devoicing in Russian, among others. I conclude with some tentative hypotheses for homeostasis in bilinguals and in late-L2 learners. Apart from interesting models and simulations, this approach offers prospects for uniting ideas from neural and linguistic theory in order to provide a more coherent explanatory neurolinguistics.

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    October 31st, 2016

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    Colloquium 11/4 - Peter Svenonius  

    Speaker: Peter Svenonius (University of Tromsø)
    Title: Emergent Extended Projections
    Time: Friday, November 4th, 2016, 3:30-5:00pm
    Venue: 32-155
    Abstract:

    The theory of extended projections (Grimshaw 2005) is built on a strongly universalist/innatist premise, especially in its cartographic implementation (Cinque 1999 inter alios). On that view, the LAD (language acquisition device) matches instantiated categories in the input to a prespecified sequence of hierarchically arranged categories in UG. In this talk, I explore the implications of a sparer UG. I suggest how extended projections might emerge from the primary data, given certain assumptions about the LAD. I suggest that these assumptions give a more satisfying understanding of mixed projections (Abney 1987) and some other phenomena than do the standard assumptions about extended projections.
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    October 31st, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 10/24 - Rafael Abramovitz  

    Speaker: Rafael Abramovitz (MIT)
    Title: Opposite-edge reduplication without Anchor
    Date/Time: Monday, October 24, 5:00–6:30pm
    Location: 32-D831

     

    Reduplication in Chukotkan languages (Chukchi, Koryak, Alutor, Kerek) has attracted attention in the phonology-morphology literature due to the fact that it copies to the opposite edge that it copies from (Riggle 2003, Nelson 2003, Inkelas 2008, i.a.), which has been used to argue for the necessity of Anchor constraints to place reduplicants. Building off of previous suggestions in the literature (most notably Kenstowicz (1976), as well as McCarthy and Prince (1996) and Nelson (2003)), I will argue that no reference to anchor constraints needs to be made, as both the size and the placement of the reduplicant fall out of segmental faithfulness and independently necessary constraints on the size of the prosodic word and the syllabification of roots. As a side-effect of this, the claim in Inkelas (2014) that Chukotkan languages use reduplication to spellout a case morpheme, a pattern otherwise unattested in the world’s languages, will turn out to be false: reduplication (sometimes) appears to spell out a case morpheme as a result of a conspiracy between minimality and the morphophonology of the absolutive singular. Based on this analysis, I will then present new data showing that reduplication systematically both underapplies and overapplies, and will suggest that Output-Output correspondence constraints (Kenstowicz 1996, Benua 1997, Albright 2010) are better able to capture these facts than Stratal OT (Bermudez-Otero 1999, Kiparsky 2000).
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    October 24th, 2016

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    LFRG 10/26 - Frank Staniszewski  

    Speaker: Frank Staniszewski (MIT)
    Time: Wednesday, October 26th, 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Partial Cyclicity and Restrictions on Neg-Raising

     

    Partial cyclicity refers to the observation that for some but not all combinations of neg-raising predicates, neg-raising can apply cyclically, and a negation in the matrix clause can be interpreted as if it is taking scope in the most deeply embedded clause (Fillmore 1963, Horn 1971, Gajewski 2007). For example, cyclic neg-raising is available when ‘believe’ embeds ‘want’, but not when ‘want’ embeds ‘believe’.
     
     (1)      a.   I don’t believe John wanted Harry to die until tomorrow.
                b. *I don’t want John to believe Harry died until yesterday.
                (Gajewski (2007) based on Horn (1971))
     
                In this presentation of work in progress, I will attempt to expand the empirical domain of this phenomenon. I will discuss new evidence that suggests that examples of partial cyclicity are part of a wider class of restrictions on neg-raising, and that these restrictions are the result of temporal orientation: In general, NR is blocked in an embedded clause that can be understood as future-shifted or yet unknown from the perspective of the matrix tense. I hope to explore whether or not the new data can be explained by previous accounts of partial cyclicity, and if not, what revisions or new analyses could account for the more general phenomenon.
     
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    October 24th, 2016

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    Ling-Lunch 10/27 — Veronica Boyce (MIT)  

    Speaker: Veronica Boyce, MIT (joint work with Athulya Aravind and Martin Hackl)
    Title: Lexical and syntactic effects on auxiliary selection: Evidence from Child French
    Date: Thursday, October 27
    Time: 12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    Auxiliary selection in periphrastic constructions poses a challenge for the learner who must learn if her language has auxiliary selection and if so, how to draw the line between HAVE-selecting and BE-selecting verbs. We investigate children’s understanding of the various factors involved in auxiliary selection in French by conducting a large-scale corpus study of child productions of passé composé.

    In adult French, a set of unaccusative verbs and reflexive clitic constructions with SE select BE. With the class of unaccusatives, children were largely adult-like, but sometimes over-extended HAVE to BE. Crucially, over-extension errors are produced at earlier ages, suggesting a stage in development where the child has yet to converge on the right generalizations about French. Once past this stage, the child consistently selects the right auxiliary, even for newly acquired verbs.

    Reflexive clitic constructions show a different acquisition trajectory from the unaccusatives. With 3rd person reflexives (se), children are adult-like 100% of the time. However, children erroneously select the HAVE-auxiliary over half of the time with 1st person (me). The high accuracy with 3rd-person reflexives suggests that children can rapidly make an inductive inference about auxiliary selection with reflexive clitic constructions, generalizing the pattern to an abstract syntactic configuration. We suggest that at the heart of the 1st person errors is the pronominal paradigm in French, which shows syncretism between object clitics and reflexives in the 1st/2nd person, and discuss how the child errors might point us to the right way of thinking about the paradigm.

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    October 24th, 2016

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    LFRG 10/19 - Naomi Francis  

    Speaker: Naomi Francis (MIT)
    Time: Wednesday, October 19 , 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Discussion of: On Negative Yes/No Questions (2004)

    In this week’s LF Reading Group, Naomi Francis will be discussing Romero and Han’s 2004 paper on biased questions.
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    October 17th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 10/17 - Nico Baier  

    Speaker: Nico Baier (UC Berkeley)
    Title: Unifying Anti-Agreement and Wh-Agreement
    Date/Time: Monday, Oct. 17, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    In many languages, phi-agreement is sensitive to the A’-movement of its controller. Some languages, such as Abaza, exhibit ‘wh-agreement’, an effect in which dedicated agreement morphology cross-references extracted arguments (Chung and Georgopoulos 1988). In other languages, such as Tarifit Berber, extracted arguments cannot control full agreement. This is known as ‘anti-agreement’ (Ouhalla 1993). These two effects have previously been treated as distinct. Wh-agreement is viewed as normal result of Agree with a goal bearing a wh-feature (Georgopoulos 1991, Watanabe 1996, a.o.). Anti-agreement is generally taken to reflect a disruption of agreement in the syntax proper (Schneider-Zioga 2007, Ouhalla 1993, a.o.). In this paper, I argue that this traditional wisdom is incorrect and that wh-agreement and anti-agreement are in fact two instantiations of the same phenomenon. Both effects are the result of a phi-probe copying both phi- and wh-features from a goal. Patterns of anti-agreement and wh-agreement arise when partial or total impoverishment applies to the [phi+wh] feature bundle in the morphological component, blocking insertion of an otherwise appropriate, more highly specified agreement exponent.
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    October 17th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle - 10/17 Benjamin Storme  

    Speaker: Benjamin Storme (MIT)
    Title: The effect of schwa duration on pre-schwa lowering in French
    Date/Time: Monday, October 17, 5:00–6:30pm
    Location: 32-D831

     

    In some European French varieties, mid vowels are realized as open-mid before schwa and in closed syllables (e.g. hôtelier [ɔtəlje], optique [ɔptik]), and as close-mid otherwise (e.g. hôtel [otɛl]). Why do syllables followed by schwa pattern with closed syllables? It is often proposed that this is related to schwa being a short vowel (e.g. Durand 1976, Selkirk 1977, Anderson 1982). In this presentation, I report the results of a production experiment with 10 French speakers which support this hypothesis. The probability of pre-schwa lowering is shown to be inversely correlated to schwa duration: as the mean schwa duration of a speaker decreases, the probability that she will lower mid vowels before schwa increases. This relationship is modeled in a stochastic OT grammar with two pairs of conflicting constraints: *LongSchwa vs. *ShortV to regulate schwa duration, and *HighMidV/{_C.C, _.CV[-long]} vs.*LowMidV to regulate mid vowel quality. Schwa duration and mid vowel quality interact because the constraint *HighMidV/{_C.C, _.CV[-long]} bans high mid vowels before short vowels. I propose that this constraint has a perceptual motivation: a consonant preceded by a high vowel and followed by a short vowel or a consonant is particularly hard to perceive, and therefore phonologically marked.
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    October 17th, 2016

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    ESSL/LacqLab Meeting 10/18 — Teodora Mihoc  

    Speaker: Teodora Mihoc (Harvard)
    Title: More evidence of heterogeneity in the class of comparative and superlative numeral modifiers
    Date/Time: Tuesday, October/18, 1—2pm
    Location: 32-D461

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    October 17th, 2016

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    Ling-Lunch 10/20 — Alëna Aksënova (Stony Brook)  

    Speaker: Alëna Aksënova (Stony Brook)
    Tittle: Morphotactics and phonology as subregular languages
    Date: Thursday, October 20th
    Time: 12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    The main idea of this talk is to show which formal language classes might be the best fit for phonology and morphotactics, and to show how certain typological gaps can be predicted by the characteristics of these formal languages.

    For a long time it was assumed that both phonological and morphological patterns are regular (Kaplan & Kay 1994, Beesley & Karttunen 2003). Recently, Heinz (2011, 2012, 2013) showed that this characterization is too general: although the regular class is sufficiently expressive, it is not restrictive enough. For example, typologically non-existent patterns such as First-Last Harmony (harmony happens only between the first and the last vowel in a word) and Sour Grapes Harmony (harmony applies only if it can be applied to the whole word) are regular. Weaker formal languages classes are needed to accurately capture the computational properties of phonology.

    Based on recent research (Aksënova et al. 2016) I argue that morphotactics does not require the whole power of regular languages, either. I show which subclasses of regular languages are needed to account for morphotactics, present specific typological gaps and derive them from rigorous computational complexity results. This computationally grounded approach to phonology and morphology also provides a new perspective on acquisition, and raises many new research questions.

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    October 17th, 2016

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    Ling-Lunch 10/13 - Juliet Stanton (MIT)  

    Speaker: Juliet Stanton (MIT)
    Title: Segmental blocking in dissimilation: an argument for co-occurrence constraints
    Date: Thursday, October 13
    Time: 12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    Most contemporary work assumes that dissimilation is motivated by featural co-occurrence (OCP) constraints (e.g. Alderete 1997, Suzuki 1998): a process that maps /X…X/ to [X…Y] (for example) would be explained by positing a ban on co-occurring [X]s.

    I first show how this approach can be extended to analyze the typology of segmental blocking effects (name due to Bennett 2015), a term used to describe cases in which a dissimilatory process is blocked by some segments, but not others. For example, dissimilation might apply across some segment Z (/X…Z…X/ > [X…Z…Y]), but not some other segment Y (/X…Y…X/ > [X…Y…X]). This pattern can be explained in the following way (following Kenstowicz 1994, Steriade 1995): if a ban on co-occurring [Y]s (violated in the unattested /X…Y…X/ > *[X…Y…Y]) takes priority over the ban on co-occurring [X]s (violated in the attested /X…Y…X/ > [X…Y…X]), then dissimilation of /X…X/ to [X…Y] will fail if some [Y] is present elsewhere in the word.

    I argue that all cases of attested segmental blocking should be analyzed as an interaction between two competing co-occurrence constraints (as above), and provide new evidence from lexical statistics in support of this conclusion. Time permitting, I will introduce an alternative correspondence-based analysis of blocking in dissimilation (Bennett 2015), and show that its predictions are less restrictive than those of the proposed analysis.

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    October 11th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 10/3 - Hisashi Morita  

    Speaker: Hisashi Morita (Aichi Prefectural University, current MIT visiting scholar)
    Title: Morphology is misleading, but syntax is not: The Syntax of Coordination in
    Japanese and Korean

    Date/Time: Monday, October 3, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    My talk presents a somehow unnoticed but simple analysis of coordination involving coordinating particles such as ka ‘or’, mo ‘and’, and toka ‘and/or’ in Japanese and to ‘also’ and (i)na ‘or’ in Korean. Analysis of coordinating phrases in Japanese and Korean has been controversial. For example, Johannessen (1996) proposes the following structure for a disjunction phrase such as Ken-ka Mary ‘Ken or Mary’:

    (1) [CoP [Co’ Ken [Co KA]] Mary]

    There are several problems with a structure such as (1). First, it assumes a right-branching specifier, which is either non-existent or extremely rare, if any. Secondly, if coordinators such as ka and mo represent disjunction and conjunction respectively as in or and and in English, one instance of ka and mo should be sufficient when there are two disjuncts or conjuncts, but as in (2), two (identical) particles appear when coordinating two phrases, the phenomenon of which is called conjunction (or disjunction) doubling:

    (2)a. Ken-KA Mary(-KA)-ga kita.
    -or (-or) -Nom
    ‘Ken or Mary came.’

    b. Ken-MO Mary-MO kita.
    came -and -and came
    ‘Both Ken and Mary came.’

    As far as I know, no existing accounts have successfully explained why two coordinators are necessary in Japanese and Korean.

    The third problem is concerned with difference between Japanese and Korean. It has been known that when ka, a disjunction particle, merges with a wh-element in Japanese, an existential quantifier follows, such as dare-ka (who-or) ‘someone’. However, in Korean, if the disjunction particle, (i)na, follows a wh-element, a free choice is generated. The last problem is how the same coordinator, i.e. toka, can mean conjunction or disjunction in Japanese as follow:

    (3) Ken-ga hon-o go-satu-TOKA roku-satu-TOKA yonda.
    -Nom book-Acc five-Cl-toka six-Cl-toka read
    ‘Ken read sets of books of five and six and more.’
    ‘Ken read five or six books.’

    The problems above can be straightforwardly explained once we assume that the structure of coordination consists of two projections: CoP and FocP, and the particles we hear may not be real coordinators (i.e. not carrying semantic functions), but simply agreement reflexes.
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    October 3rd, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 10/3 - Aleksei Nazarov  

    Speaker: Aleksei Nazarov (Harvard)
    Title: Learning parametric stress without domain-specific mechanisms
    Date/Time: Monday, October 3, 5:00-6:30
    Location: 32-D831

    (Joint work with Gaja Jarosz (UMass))

    A parametric approach to the acquisition of stress (Dresher and Kaye 1990, Hayes 1995) is attractive for defining a small learning space. However, previous approaches (Dresher and Kaye 1990, Pearl 2007, 2011) have argued that domain-general learners, such as the Naïve Parameter Learner (NPL; Yang 2002), are not sufficient for learning stress parameters, and that UG contains domain-specific mechanisms for individual parameters: substantive “cues” as well as a parameter acquisition order. We argue that these conclusions are premature, and we instead propose to modify the non-selective way in which parameters are updated in the NPL.

    Our proposed Expectation Driven Parameter Learner (EDPL) augments the NPL with a (linear-time) Expectation Maximization component along the lines of Jarosz (2015). Without using domain-specific mechanisms, we show that the novel EDPL performs very well (96% accuracy) on a representative subset of the typology defined by Dresher and Kaye (1990), while the NPL performs very poorly (4.3% accuracy). This suggests that UG can be kept simpler (parameters only, instead of parameters + cues + order) if the learner is allowed to process individual data points more thoroughly.

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    October 3rd, 2016

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    LFRG 10/5 - Itai Bassi  

    Speaker: Itai Bassi (MIT)
    Time: Wednesday, October 5 , 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Discussion of: Ellipsis, Economy and the (Non)uniformity of Traces (LI, 2016)

    Itai will be presenting a recent paper by Troy Messick and Gary Thoms Ellipsis, Economy and the (Non)uniformity of Traces (LI, 2016), which argues for the elimination of the constraint MaxElide from the theory of ellipsis.

    Also, the LFRG slot next week (Oct 12) is free for the taking. If you have anything you’d like to present, please tell Daniel Margulis or Itai Bassi soon!

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    October 3rd, 2016

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    Ling-Lunch 10/6 — Ömer Demirok  

    Speaker: Ömer Demirok (MIT)
    Title: Free Relatives and Correlatives in Wh-in-situ [practice talk]
    Date: Thursday, October 6
    Time: 12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    In English (and many other languages), a wh-structure as in (1) can be construed as a free relative or as an interrogative complement. Cecchetto and Donati (2015) refer to this phenomenon as labeling ambiguity and predict that this sort of ambiguity is precluded in wh-in-situ languages, as illustrated in the hypothetical example in (2). This prediction is borne out in many wh-in-situ languages (e.g. Turkish, Laz). However, Polinsky (2015) shows that Tsez has wh-FRs with the pattern in (2).

    (1) Sue knows/ate [what John cooked]

    (2) “Sue knows/*ate [John cooked what]”

    In this talk, I propose a semantic typology for interrogative pronouns that can predict whether a given wh-in-situ language will necessarily lack wh-FRs or not (under the compositional analysis of FRs in Caponigro 2004). In particular, I make the prediction that wh-in-situ languages that compose wh-questions via Hamblin alternatives will necessarily lack wh-FRs (as the composition of a wh-question will not generate a semantic predicate) whereas wh-in-situ languages that rely on covert movement to compose their questions may have wh-FRs. Using intervention effects and island-sensitivity as diagnostics, I show that this prediction holds.

    In the second part of the talk, I address the question why some wh-in-situ languages (e.g. Turkish, Laz) have the distribution in (3). A relativization-based analysis of wh-correlatives (3b) in genuinely wh-in-situ languages would constitute a counterexample to my proposal. However, I show that there is in fact evidence in favor of a question-based semantic composition for (3b) (Rawlins, 2013, Hirsch 2015), as would be expected under the proposed typology.

    (3) a. * “Sue eats [John cooks what]” (in-situ wh-FR)

    b. OK “John cooks what, Sue eats that” (in-situ wh-correlative)

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    October 3rd, 2016

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    Syntax Square 9/26 — Suzana Fong  


    Speaker: Suzana Fong (MIT)
    Title: Long distance argument shift
    Date/Time: Monday, September 26, 1-2pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    Last resort and locality work conjointly to rule out sentences like (i) *John seems that cleaned the kitchen and (ii) *John saw him that cleaned the kitchen. These constructions seem to involve the movement of a DP (‘John’) out of a finite clause and from a Case position into another Case position. Though this is the correct result for a language like English, these sentences are actually attested in other languages. (i) is an instance of hyper-raising and it seems to be possible in Brazilian Portuguese, Lubukusu and Zulu. (ii) seems to be possible in Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Romanian and Sakha.

    Although seemingly different, my working hypothesis is that (i) and (ii) are particular instantiations of the same phenomenon, ‘long distance argument shift’ (LDAS). In order to account for it, I propose that LDAS complements involve an extra functional projection XP on top of the finite CP. I also adopt a dynamic approach to phases (Bošković 2014), so that XP and not CP counts as a phase in an LDAS complement. I postulate that XP triggers the movement of a DP to its Spec position. From there, being at the edge of the lower phase, the DP will be accessible to a matrix probe. This is supposed to solve the locality problem. I will also try to show that the postulation of an extra functional projection, though suspicious, may capture some properties of the behavior of LDAS. XP could also be important in trying to explain the restrictions in LDAS variation within and across languages.

    Furthermore, I adopt a configurational approach to case (Marantz 1991). Under this view, case itself does not cause a DP to move or to stay frozen in place, eliminating the last resort problem. Empirical motivation to adopt dependent case comes from Sakha (Baker & Vinokurova 2010), where the shifting DP is marked with accusative case, even though the matrix predicate may be unaccusative. I also assume that case can be assigned at each phase a DP moves through (cf. Levin 2016). The motivation comes from case stacking in Korean and Norwegian topicalization, which could be argued to display morphological evidence of the cases the shifting DP gets in the embedded and in the matrix clause.



    The following Syntax Square dates are still open: Nov 14, Nov 28, Dec 12. Please contact Colin Davis (colind@mit.edu) or Justin Colley (jcolley@mit.edu) to claim a slot.

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    September 26th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 9/26 — Carolyn Spadine  

    Speaker: Carolyn Spadine (MIT)
    Title: Transitivizer Deglottalization in St’at’imcets: Rethinking Intraparadigmatic Faithfulness
    Date/Time: Monday, September 26, 5:00-6:30
    Location: 32-D831

    An abstract is available here.

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    September 26th, 2016

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    ESSL/LacqLab Meeting 9/26 — Boyce and Aravind  

    • Speakers: Veronica Boyce (undergraduate assistant at LacqLab) and Athulya Aravind (MIT)
    • Title: Acquiring auxiliary selection in French
    • Date: 09/26/2016, Monday (notice the exceptional time!)
    • Time: 5:00 PM
    • Venue: 32-D769 (7th floor seminar room)
    We will present corpus data relating to French children’s knowledge of two different dimensions of auxiliary selection: (1) the unaccusative-unergative division of intransitives and (2) the formation of reflexive clitic constructions. While children show early competence in both domains overall, there are some systematic error patterns that emerge and we would like to have an informal discussion of those.
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    September 26th, 2016

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    LFRG 9/28 — Kai von Fintel  

    Speaker: Kai von Fintel (MIT)
    Time: Wednesday, Sept. 28, 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: On the absence of certain ambiguities (in some contexts)

    Postal (1974) [an extensive reply to Hasegawa 1972], Horn (1981), among others, discussed the distribution of transparent readings in intensional contexts (“George doesn’t know that Chloe is where she (actually) is” versus “#I don’t know that she is where she is”). Jackson (1981, 1987), not knowing the previous literature, used the fact that transparent readings are absent in indicative conditionals to argue that indicative conditionals are not possible worlds constructions. In response, Weatherson (2001) and Nolan (2003) propose that indicative conditionals monstrously diagonalize their components (see also Santorio 2012).

    In this presentation, I will explore the true extent of the phenomenon and discuss how one might account for it. The purpose for now is to show of this puzzle that it truly is a puzzle. In an as of yet mythical follow-up, a brilliant solution will appear.

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    September 26th, 2016

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    Valentine Hacquard’s mini-course 9/28-9/29  

    Title: The semantics and pragmatics of attitude reports: the view from acquisition
    Date/time: Wednesday, 09/28 and Thursday, 09/29, 5:00-6:30pm
    Venue: 32-D461

    What semantic categories are there in natural language? Do they define a space of ‘natural’ meanings within those that are merely ‘conceivable’? How do children figure out what these semantic categories are? How well are they tracked by syntactic categories and can the child exploit systematic links between these syntactic and semantic categories? This course investigates the semantics and pragmatics of attitude reports by focusing on the interplay between syntax, semantics and pragmatics, from the perspective of the formal semanticist and of the child learner. We will focus on attitudes of belief vs. desire on Day 1, and on factivity on Day 2.
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    September 26th, 2016

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    Ling-Lunch 9/29 — Vitor Nóbrega  

    Speaker: Vitor Nóbrega (University of São Paulo)
    Title: Root categorization as an interface condition: Evidence from compounds
    Date/Time: Thursday, September 29/12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract: pdf

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    September 26th, 2016

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    Colloquium 9/30 — Valentine Hacquard  

    Speaker: Valentine Hacquard (University of Maryland)
    Title: Grasping at factivity
    Date: Friday, Sept. 30th
    Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
    Place: 32-155 (please note that the venue has changed from 32-141 to 32-155)

    Speakers mean more than their sentences do, because they can take a lot about their audience for granted. This talk explores how presuppositions and pragmatic enrichments play out in acquisition. How do children untangle semantic from pragmatic contributions to what speakers mean? The case study I will focus on is how children learn the meaning of the words think and know. When and how do children figure out that think but not know can be used to report false beliefs? When and how do they figure out that with know, but not think, speakers tend to presuppose the truth of the complement clause? I will suggest that the path of acquisition is traced by the child’s understanding both of where such verbs occur, and of why speakers use them. (joint work with Rachel Dudley and Jeff Lidz)
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    September 26th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 9/19 - Norvin Richards  

    Speaker: Norvin Richards (MIT)

    Title: Contiguity Theory and Pied-Piping

    Date: Monday, Sept. 19th

    Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm

    Place: 32-D461

    Abstract:

    In this talk I will demonstrate how Contiguity Theory can be used to derive Seth Cable’s generalizations about the conditions on pied-piping. We will see that the pied-piping facts for a given language track the availability of wh-in-situ, in an interesting and theoretically useful way.
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    September 19th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 9/19 - Erin Olson  

    Speaker: Erin Olson (MIT)
    Title: Intermediate Markedness and its consequences for the GLA
    Date/Time: Monday, September 19, 5:00-6:
    Location: 32-D831

    In the phonological acquisition literature, it has been observed that children sometimes acquire marked structures of the target language in a two-step fashion: they go through a stage in which they produce the marked structure only in some privileged position(s) within the word, before producing that structure in the full range of positions found in the target language. These stages have primarily been analyzed as being due to the ranking schema in (1) (Tessier 2009).

    (1) Positional Faithfulness >> Markedness >> General Faithfulness

    These stages have been shown to be problematic for gradual OT learning algorithms such as the GLA (Boersma 1997; Magri 2012), as these algorithms do not predict that children should ever go through such a stage (Jesney and Tessier 2007, 2008; Tessier 2009). As such, Jesney and Tessier (2007, 2008) advocate for using an HG-based learner, which is capable of predicting these stages.

    In this talk, I will review Jesney and Tessier’s (2007, 2008) claim that the GLA is incapable of predicting intermediate stages, and I will show that this claim is premature. The GLA is capable of predicting such stages under the following conditions: a) the intermediate stage can be characterized by the ranking in (2):

    (2) Positional Markedness >> Faithfulness >> General Markedness

    and b) if it cannot be characterized in this way, then the Positional Faithfulness constraint that decides the error is ranked low in the grammar. I will also discuss how multiple, successive intermediate stages can be predicted, and set out a typology of possible intermediate stage orders.

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    September 19th, 2016

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    LFRG 9/21 - Daniel Margulis  

    LFRG will happen Wednesday 9/21 at 1-2pm in 32-D831.
    Daniel Margulis will discuss Michael Wagner’s 2006 paper: “Association by movement: evidence from NPI-licensing

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    September 19th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 9/12 - Ezer Rasin  

    Speaker: Ezer Rasin (MIT) Title: The stress-encapsulation universal and phonological modularity Date/Time: Monday, September 12, 5:00-6:30pm Location: 32-D831

    Cross-linguistically, the distribution of segmental features is often conditioned on the position of stress. In American English, for example, [t] is flapped between a preceding stressed vowel and a following unstressed vowel (políDical vs. politícian), voiceless stops are aspirated at the onset of a stressed syllable (opphóse vs. opposítion), stressless vowels undergo reduction (át@m vs. @tó mic), and [h] is deleted before an unstressed, non-initial vowel (vé[h]icle vs. vehícular). As noted by Blumenfeld (2006), stress-segmental interactions in the other direction are almost non-existent: stress is sensitive to supra-segmental features such as syllable structure and tone, but – to the exclusion of sonority – it is never sensitive to any segmental features (such as voicing, continuancy, place of articulation, and so on). My main claim is that reported sonority-sensitive stress patterns do not require direct reference to sonority. The claim will be based on a review of the sonority-driven stress literature and a re-evaluation of some of the reported cases. The result is that Blumenfeld’s list of universal asymmetries between stress and segmental features becomes a generalization over all features: the distribution of stress is never conditioned on segmental features. I refer to this result as the “Stress-encapsulation Universal”. The stress-encapsulation universal is surprising under existing theories of phonology: rule-based theories of stress (e.g., Halle and Vergnaud, 1987) have used rules that make direct reference to segment quality, and even if reference to segment quality is avoided, the fact that stress rules would consistently ignore the same information in their input (segmental features) would be left as an accident. In Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky, 1993), stress and segmental processes are computed in parallel: output markedness constraints that trigger stress-sensitive segmental processes are symmetric and may be used to (undesirably) trigger quality-sensitive stress. Given such constraints, standard Optimality Theory has no general way of banning quality-sensitive stress processes. I will show that the stress-encapsulation universal can be derived in a modular architecture of phonology where a stress-computation module is encapsulated from the rest of the system. In this modular architecture, the input to the stress module excludes representations of segmental features, and outside of the stress module, stress representations cannot be changed. I will propose a concrete theory of the interface to the stress module within a serial rule-based framework and discuss its predictions regarding indirect effects of segmental features on the position of stress, including vowel invisibility to stress and effects on stress through syllable structure. Finally, I will evaluate alternative explanations for the universal, including non-modular phonological explanations (such as fixed constraint rankings within OT) and explanations that attribute the universal to extra-phonological factors.
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    September 12th, 2016

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    ESSL/LacqLab Meeting 9/13 — Loes Koring  

    The Experimental Syntax and Semantics and Language Acquisition Labs are resuming weekly meetings, starting this Tuesday, September 13. This week features Loes Koring, who will talk about the projects and potential projects that she will be working on here for the next year. If you are interested in experimental work, in syntax or semantics or language acquisition, please come! Also, there will be pizza provided!

    ESSL/LacqLab Meeting

    • Date: 09/13/2016 (Tuesday)
    • Time: 1:00-2:00 pm
    • Venue: 32-D461
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    September 12th, 2016

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    Ling-Lunch 9/15 - Norvin Richards (MIT)  

    Speaker: Norvin W Richards (MIT)
    Title: Deriving Contiguity
    Date/Time: Thursday, September 15/12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461
    Abstract:

    Richards (2016) presents an account of the distribution of various types of overt movement and linear adjacency requirements. One of the central claims I make there is that the construction of prosodic structure begins in the narrow syntax, and that the syntax can be motivated by prosodic considerations to perform syntactic movement operations.

    Central to the account is a claim that Agree and selection relations must affect prosody in certain ways. I claim that just in structures involving Agree or selection, the general laws governing the mapping of syntax onto prosody are overridden by a special condition (called Generalized Contiguity) which dictates that the participants in Agree or selection must share a prosodic domain of a certain kind.

    In this talk I will review some of the results of Richards (2016), and then try to show that these results can be derived without making any special stipulations about the pros/odic representation of Agree or selection relations. A modified version of Match Theory (Selkirk 2009, 2011, Elfner 2012, 2015, Clemens 2014, Bennett, Elfner, and McCloskey 2016), which makes general claims about how dominance relations in syntax are mapped onto prosody, turns out to be sufficient, if paired with approaches to Agree and selection that posit multidominance structures resulting from Agree relations (Frampton and Gutmann 2000, Sag et al 2003, Pesetsky and Torrego 2007, among others). The resulting theory is more restrictive than the one in Richards (2016).

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    September 12th, 2016

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    First LingLunch of Fall/2016 - Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine  

    • Speaker: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (National University of Singapore)
    • Title: ‘C-T head-splitting: Evidence from Toba Batak’
    • Date and time: September 8 (Thursday), 12:30pm-1:50pm
    • Location: 32-D461
    I present new work on extraction and voice in Toba Batak, an Austronesian language of northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Recent work has proposed a tight coupling between the traditional heads of C and T. I argue that patterns of multiple extraction in Toba Batak support the C-T head-splitting hypothesis—the idea that C and T begin as a single CT head and can split (Martinović, 2015). Although Batak has been previously described as only allowing extraction of one constituent at a time (Cole & Hermon 2008), I show that the simultaneous extraction of two constituents is possible, in very limited combinations. Exactly two patterns are possible: two DPs which are both formally focused (wh or with ‘only’) or a focused non-DP followed by a non-focused DP. I propose that C and T first try to probe together (as CT) for the joint satisfaction of their probes (focus and D features); if this fails, CT splits into C and T, which probe separately. This hypothesis is supported by the distribution of the particle na in two internally-consistent ideolects, which provides overt morphological support for the CT head-splitting view. I also discuss lessons for the analysis of Austronesian voice systems.
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    September 6th, 2016

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    Last LingLunch of the Semester: 5/26 - Bruna Karla Pereira  

    Speaker: Bruna Karla Pereira (UFVJM)
    Title: “Inflection of wh-determiners and wh-quantifiers in dialectal Brazilian Portuguese”
    Date and Time: Thursday, May 26, 12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461

    Abstract: here

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    May 23rd, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 5/15 - Sophie Moracchini  

    Speaker: Sophie Moracchini (MIT)
    Title: Metathesis in Verlan: reducing syllable reversal to segment reversal
    Date/Time: Monday, May 16, 5:00–6:30pm
    Location: 32-D831

    The abstract can be found here.

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    May 16th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 5/17 - Bruna Karla Pereira  

    Speaker: Bruna Karla Pereira (UFVJM; CAPES Foundation- Ministry of Education of Brazil)
    Title: Cardinals and the DP-internal distribution of the plural morpheme in Brazilian Portuguese
    Date: Tuesday, May 17th
    Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm
    Place: 32-D461

    The abstract can be found here.

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    May 16th, 2016

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    Ling Lunch 5/19 - Shayne Sloggett  

    Speaker: Shayne Sloggett (UMASS)
    Title: “Do comprehenders violate Binding Theory? Depends on your point of view”
    Date/Time: Thursday, May 19/12:30pm-1:50pm
    Location: 32-D461

    In the course of sentence comprehension, comprehenders will, inevitably, need to interpret anaphoric elements (e.g. pronouns, reflexives, ellipsis). A good deal of work in psycholinguistics has been aimed understanding how such elements are interpreted in real-time, investigating the role played by grammatical constraints and their interaction with general memory mechanisms. For pronouns and reflexives, it has been claimed that comprehenders use Binding Theory (Chomsky 1986) to tightly restrict the search for an antecedent in early stages of comprehension (Chow, Lewis, & Phillips, 2014; Dillon, Mishler, Sloggett, & Phillips, 2013; Nicol & Swinney, 1989; Sturt, 2003). However, recent findings challenge this view, demonstrating that reflexive comprehension sometimes accesses antecedents solely on the basis of their match with the reflexive’s morphosyntactic features (Chen, Jaeger, & Vasishth, 2012; Patil, Lewis, & Vasishth, 2016; Parker, 2014). In this talk, I will explore the source of this ‘grammatical fallibility’ in the real-time application of Binding Theory: do apparent violations of Principle A in comprehension reflect processing errors in antecedent selection, or are they instead the result of alternative grammatical constraints on reflexive interpretation? I will present the results of two eye-tracking while reading studies which demonstrate that comprehenders do not simply “make mistakes” in finding reflexive antecedents, but rather attend to non-Principle A antecedents when a discourse-oriented, logophoric interpretation of the reflexive is available. Curiously, it is not clear that such interpretations are fully licensed in English, suggesting that comprehenders make use of “sub-grammatical” knowledge of possible linguistic structures in other languages. These findings thus suggest a rather tight link between grammatical knowledge and linguistic processing, albeit, one interestingly complicated by “sub-grammatical” information. Finally, these findings might be extended to improve our understanding of Binding Theory by providing potential evidence against predicate-based theories of binding (Pollard & Sag 1992; Reinhart & Reuland 1993).
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    May 16th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle - two meetings  

    TALK 1: REGULAR MONDAY MEETING

    Speaker: Mingqiong (Joan) Luo (Shanghai International Studies University)
    Title: Opacity in MC Nasal Rhymes—-Phonetics and Phonology
    Date/Time: Monday, May 9, 5:00–6:30pm
    Location: 32-D831

    Cross-linguistically speaking, nasal place assimilation is quite common when the nasal is followed by a consonant. English and Japanese have plenty of examples for it. However, although it is well-known that Mandarin Chinese (MC) has two nasal phonemes in the coda place: /n/ and /ŋ/, there is very few literature on what exactly happens to the nasal place in VN.CV context, when the nasal is followed immediately by a consonant. This research explored this problem by conducting a phonetic experiment and using R to analyze the data. Results show that (i) there is no place assimilation in MC VN.CV context; (ii) nasal place contrast has been neutralized in the citation form; (iii) the only cue to nasal place contrast in MC nasal rhymes is vowel-nasal transitional formant 2; (iv) there is opacity in Chinese nasal rhymes, ever since the citation form, and it can be captured by the following two rules in order:

    (a) V/N backness agreement: V → V [αback] / _N[αplace]#

    (b) Nasal place deletion: N[α place] → N[0 place] / _#

    TALK 2: FRIDAY PRACTICE TALK

    Speaker: Juliet Stanton & Sam Zukoff (MIT)
    Title: Prosodic Misapplication in Copy Epenthesis and Reduplication
    Date/Time: Friday, May 13, 1:00–2:00pm
    Location: 32-D831

    The term copy epenthesis refers to patterns of vowel epenthesis in which the featural value of the inserted vowel co-varies with context, “copying” the features of a neighboring vowel (e.g. /pra/ → [para], /pri/ → [piri]). This paper focuses on a class of cases in which the similarity between copy vowels and their hosts extends beyond featural resemblance, and how the existence of these effects informs the analysis of copy epenthesis – and by extension, the analysis of copying phenomena more generally. In particular, we show that copy vowels and their hosts strive for identity not only in all segmental features, but in all prosodic properties as well – and that this drive for prosodic identity can cause the misapplication of prosodic properties (i.e. stress, pitch, length). To explain these effects, we propose that copy vowels and their hosts stand in correspondence with each other (Kitto & de Lacy 1999). We show that this correspondence-based approach naturally extends to a class of similar misapplication effects in reduplication, and argue that the empirical overlap between the phenomena signals a formal similarity. In this way, the paper develops Kitto & de Lacy’s (1999) suggestion that copying, phonological and morphological, is mediated by correspondence constraints (cf. Kawahara 2007).
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    May 9th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 5/10 - Colin Davis & Justin Colley  

    Speaker: Colin Davis & Justin Colley
    Title: A new approach to Turkish nominalized clauses (WAFL test-run)
    Date: Tuesday, May 10th
    Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm
    Place: 32-D461

    In this talk, we account for the properties of several clause types in Turkish, where we see alternations between genitive and nominative subjects in several circumstances. We make use of two primary tools: 1 - A configurational system of case (Marantz 1991, Levin & Preminger 2014) in which nominative and genitive are reflexes of the unmarked case, respectively in the clausal domain and the nominal domain. 2 - A dynamic view of phasal domains (Den Dikken 2007, Alexiadou et al 2014, Wurmbrand 2013) in which in some circumstances, phasehood shifts its structural position. Taking these concepts together, if nominative and genitive are domain sensitive realizations of the same case specification, we expect that this case will be realized differently in some scenarios where, by phase extension, the relevant domain changes. We argue that this general idea can make sense of a variety of facts about the morphology of Turkish nominalizations, among these some unique traits of nominalizations in adjunct contexts, and contrasts between subjunctive and indicative nominalizations. (Kornfilt 2006)

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    May 9th, 2016

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    LFRG 5/11 - Zuzanna Fuchs  

    Speaker: Zuzanna Fuchs (Harvard)
    Time: Wednesday, May 11, 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Topichood and split DPs in Georgian: movement or base-generation?

    Discontinuous (or split) DPs have been reported in several languages, including Polish, Russian, German, Warlpiri, Mayan Yucatec, and others. In these constructions, material external to the DP can intervene between a head noun and one or more of its modifiers. While the null hypothesis for split DPs is subextraction out of the DP, a range of evidence for Georgian (adjective scope reconstruction, Principle C binding effects, and more) appears to argue against such an analysis for the Georgian data, suggesting instead that one part of the split may be base-generated in a topic position. Additionally, case concord interacts with split DPs in Georgian in a peculiar way that existing accounts of split DPs cannot account for: (1) for some modifiers, case concord is ungrammatical in continuous DPs but obligatory in split DPs and (2) the dative and accusative cases on modifiers are null in continuous DPs but are realized as -s in split DPs — a form restricted to the dative and accusative on head nouns in continuous DPs. In this talk, I present the arguments against subextraction for Georgian DPs and give an NP-ellipsis account of the case concord facts.
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    May 9th, 2016

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    Ling Lunch 5/12 - Alexandru Nicolae  

    Speaker: Alexandru Nicolae (Romanian Academy - University of Bucharest)
    Title: The syntactic configurations of Romanian modal verbs: modals and phases
    Time: Thursday, May 12th, 12:30-1:50 pm
    Place: 32-D461

    The distributional and interpretative properties of the Romanian modal verbs `putea’ (‘can, be able to’) and `trebui’ (‘must, have to’) indicate that the modal verbs have a uniform syntactic behavior, in spite of superficially different syntactic configurations (the monoclausal configuration / the biclausal configuration) in which they appear: (i) they are subject raising verbs, which (ii) select a phasal complement. With respect to the biclausal configuration, in contrast to previous literature, which claims that the embedded subjunctive is a “reduced” / “truncated” / “defective” CP in order to derive the subject raising effect, we show that the subjunctive CP is a fully articulated domain from a structural point of view; hence, the subject raising effect has to be derived in a different manner. As for monoclausal configuration (in which the modal verb selects a non-finite complement), we show (i) that, in spite of the different morphosyntactic realization of the complements of the modal verb (bare short infinitive, participle, supine), they are structurally isomorphic, in the sense that the non-finite complement projects up to v-Voice, and (ii) that the [modal verb + nonfinite complement] is a restructuring configuration. Furthermore, the Romanian data suggest that the restructuring effect might actually fall out of minimality (verb movement considerations).

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    May 9th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Colloquium 5/13 - Roni Katzir  

    Speaker: Roni Katzir (Tel Aviv University)
    Title: On the roles of anaphoricity and relevance in focus
    Date: Friday, May 13rd
    Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
    Place: 32-141

    The placement of accent on elements in sentences interacts both with the felicity of sentences in their conversational context — so-called free focus (FF)—and, in the presence of certain operators, with the truth conditions and presuppositions of sentences—so-called association with focus (AF). For example, John DRINKS tea is acceptable as a response to John sells tea but not to John drinks coffee (FF); and John only DRINKS tea, with the AF operator ‘only’, can entail that it is false that John sells tea but not that it is false that he drinks coffee. It is commonly assumed that focus-sensitivity in both FF and AF is related to focus alternatives, sets of sentences that are identical to the original modulo focus-marked constituents (e.g., {John drinks tea, John buys tea, John sells tea, …} for John DRINKS tea). Moreover, this connection is often taken to be anaphoric: in FF, the focus alternatives of a sentence are required to have a contextually salient element or subset (Jackendoff 1972, Rooth 1992, Schwarzschild 1999); and in AF, focus alternatives are matched against an anaphoric element that determines the domain restriction of an operator like ‘only’ (Rooth 1992, von Fintel 1994).

    My goal in this talk is to argue that the role of anaphoricity in focus sensitivity is more limited than commonly thought and that the main factor, both in FF and in AF, is relevance to a question (in the sense of Groenendijk & Stokhof 1984). I start by reviewing several empirical puzzles for Rooth 1992 and Schwarzschild 1999. These puzzles suggest a central role for questions in focus sensitivity, though they do not help choose between relevance and anaphoricity to a question. I proceed to present the details of a relevance-based account of focus sensitivity, building on Fox 2007’s architecture in which the grammar, enriched with a silent exhaustivity operator, is responsible for all specialized alternative-sensitive computations, while the pragmatic component does not perform such computations and is mostly limited to disambiguating between parses and determining possible values for contextual variables. Finally, I use an extension of Wagner 2005’s ‘convertible’ paradigm to argue that the dependence of focus sensitivity on questions in both FF and AF must be one of relevance rather than anaphoricity. The argument relies on a crucial difference between the two mechanisms: anaphoricity can pick up arbitrary sets of alternatives, while relevance, due to contradiction avoidance, is sometimes incapable of making selections that would lead to arbitrary alternative-based inferences.

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    May 9th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Phonology Circle 5/2 - Abdul-Razak Sulemana  

    Speaker: Abdul-Razak Sulemana (MIT)
    Title: The Definite Morpheme in Bùlì
    Date: Monday, May 2nd
    Time: 5-6:30
    Place: 32-D831

    The abstract is available here.

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    May 2nd, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Syntax Square 5/3 - Colin Davis  

    Speaker: Colin Davis (MIT)
    Title: Locality and copular allomorphy in North Azeri
    Date: Tuesday, May 3rd
    Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm
    Place: 32-D461

    In this talk I analyze the distribution of copular allomorphy in North Azeri (Turkic), which I argue supports a theory of allomorphy that is constrained by structural locality. (Bobaljik 2012) In specific, when a copula is sufficiently local to a T bearing relevant features, copular allomorphy is possible, but when these conditions are unmet, either due to featural mismatch or lack of structural locality due to intervening phrases, the copula defaults to an elsewhere form. This system captures a range of facts in a principled way, while keeping a uniform syntax in all cases. I extend this argument to account for a syncretism between that elsewhere copular form, and the form of the verb “become”, which are the same in this language. I suggest that we can decompose “become” in the syntax into a copula plus an additional head encoding inchoative semantics or some related species of inner aspect, and that the addition of this head results in structural dis-locality between the copula and a potential allomorphy trigger, just as we see elsewhere in the language. That is, while we might posit accidental syncretism between these two things, I suggest that we do not have to do so.

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    May 2nd, 2016

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    LFRG 5/4 - Itai Bassi  

    Speaker: Itai Bassi (MIT)
    Time: Wednesday, May 4th, 2016
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Existential Semantics for Bare Conditionals (joint work with Moshe E. Bar-Lev)

    Bare conditionals show quantificational variability contingent on whether they are in an Upward Entailing or a Downward Entailing environment. For example, the conditional in (1) is interpreted universally while (2) existentially:

    1) if you work hard you succeed
    in all cases where you work hard you succeed
    2) no one will succeed if they goof off
    no x is such that there is a case where they goof off and succeed

    We suggest that contrary to the widely accepted view, the basic semantics of if p, q involves existential quantification, and its universal character in UE environments is derived by a grammatical strengthening mechanism of recursive exhaustification over domain alternatives. We further show how the phenomenon of Conditional Perfection (from if p, q to if and only if p, q), a long-standing puzzle, can be derived in our system.

    Some challenges to the analysis will be mentioned, as well as the prospects of extending it to deal with Homogeneity phenomena in general.

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    May 2nd, 2016

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    Ling Lunch 5/5 - Yuta Sakamoto  

    Speaker: Yuta Sakamoto (UCONN)
    Title: Beyond deep and surface: Clausal complement anaphora in Japanese
    Time: Thursday, May 5th, 12:30-1:50 pm
    Place: 32-D461

    In this talk, I investigate the possibility of extraction out of both overt and covert anaphora sites in Japanese, i.e. extraction out of clausal complements that are “replaced” by soo ‘so’ and clausal complements that are phonologically missing. Specifically, I show that both of them allow certain types of extraction out of them, unlike clausal complement anaphora in English, where extraction is uniformly banned out of its domain. Based on the extraction possibility, I then argue that the Japanese cases in question are instances of ellipsis, not pro-forms. Furthermore, I argue that both deletion and LF-copying are available strategies for implementing ellipsis. In particular, I argue that “replaced” clausal complements are best analyzed in terms of deletion and silent clausal complement anaphora in terms of LF-copying.

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    May 2nd, 2016

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    Colloquium 5/6 - Daniel Büring  

    Speaker: Daniel Büring (University of Vienna)
    Title: Backgrounded ≠ Given — The relation between focusing, givenness and stress in English
    Date: Friday, May 6th
    Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
    Place: 32-141

    Standard wisdom sees the given/new distinction, and its effects on (de)accenting, as either independent of, and ultimately secondary to, focusing (e.g. Fery & Samek-Lodovici 2006, Katz & Selkirk 2011), or subsumes it wholesale under an anaphoric theory of focusing (e.g. Schwarzschild 1999, Wagner 2006,2012, Büring 2012).

    In this talk I explore a novel and rather different picture: givenness is a necessary, but not, ever, sufficient condition for deaccenting (or more in general for what I call “prosodic reversal”), and so is “contrastive focusabilty” (of the then-accented element). Crucially, the target of focussing (say, the value of C in Rooth’s, 1992, ~C), never has to be contextually salient; in other words: focusing is not anaphoric. Consequently, even the background of a focus only needs to be given if is deaccented (“prosodically demoted”).

    This view offers new perspectives on a number of thorny problems, including the proper analysis of deaccenting (or the lack thereof) within broad foci (and yes, there will be “convertible” examples!). In a nutshell, using non-anaphoric focal targets (which now we may!), we can re-analyze all cases of apparent anaphoric deaccenting as narrow contrastive foci, while the givenness condition ensures that we do not deaccent (though possibly background) non-given elements.

    The proposal is implemented in Unalternative Semantics, a new method for calculating focus alternatives, which solely looks at whether two sister nodes show default or non-default relative stress (no F- or G-marking!). I show that this method provides for a particularly natural implementation of the division of labor between focus and givenness argued for.

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    May 2nd, 2016

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    Fieldwork Recording 5/6 - Edward Flemming  

    Speaker: Edward Flemming (MIT)
    Title: Fieldwork recording
    Time: Friday, May 6th, 2-3pm
    Place: 32-D831

    This is a general talk on fieldwork recording that addresses practical questions, such as how to choose a recorder and recording accessories for a particular fieldwork setting, what to do or not do in a particular recording environment, etc.

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    May 2nd, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Daniel Büring: Mini-course on Unalternative Semantics  

    Class 1 (Wednesday)
    Title: Unalternative Semantics, basics
    Time: 5:00-6:30pm
    Venue: 32-461

    UNALTERNATIVE SEMANTICS (UAS) provides a new method to calculate focus alternatives. It directly and compositionally calculates focus alternatives from relative stress patterns, without the mediation of [F]-markers or similar devices. Crucially, the structural cue for deriving focus alternatives (in English and similar languages) is the distinction between default and non-default metrical patterns among sister nodes, rather than properties of constituents in isolation (such as presence of an accent, or a particular amount of stress). The result is a simpler, yet arguably more adequate model of the connection between prosody and focus semantics.

    The first class introduces the basic workings of UAS. I then discuss how UAS avoids classical problems such as over-focussing, under-accenting, and how it accounts for second occurrence focus.

    Class 2 (Thursday)
    Title: Unalternative Semantics, further applications
    Time: 5:00-6:30pm
    Venue: 32-461

    The basic framework from class 1 is applied to new phenomena: focus positions, “unfocus” positions (in Hausa), and sentences with two intermediate phrases and two nuclear pitch accents (in English again). If we’re lucky, we can discuss impromptu ideas by students that work on related phenomena, speculate how they could be approached in UAS etc.
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    May 2nd, 2016

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    Syntax Square 4/26 - Nick Longenbaugh  

    Speaker: Nick Longenbaugh (MIT)
    Title: Medium-distance movement
    Date: Tuesday, April 26th
    Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm
    Place: 32-D461

    Many filler-gap dependencies traditionally analyzed as involving A’-movement of a null operator show constraints on the gap site that are not observed with other types of A’-movement (Stowell 1986; Cinque 1990; Rezac 2006; a.o.) wh-question formation, finite relative clause formation). In this talk, I focus on four such cases: degree-clauses, purpose clauses, non-finite relatives, and tough-movement. In each of these constructions, intervening finite clauses (but not infinitives) degrade object gaps and completely block subject gaps. I term this constrained movement medium-distance movement (MDM).

    (1) Intervening finite CPs degrade object gaps
    a. ?(?)That book was hard [Inf to convince Sally [CP that John wrote t]].
    b. ??Sally was too smart [Inf to convince Arthur [CP that the professor had failed t]].
    c. ??I chose this piano [Inf to convince Bill [CP that Mozart had practiced on t]].
    d. ?(?)I’m looking for a book [Inf to convince Sue [CP that Roth would love t]]

    (2) Intervening finite CPs block subject-gaps
    a. *John was hard [Inf to convince Sally [CP t wrote that book]].
    b. *Sally was too smart [Inf to convince Arthur [CP t failed the test]].
    c. *I chose Sue [Inf to convince Bill [CP t won the race]].
    d. *I’m looking for an author [Inf to convince Sue [CP t wrote this book]]

    I argue that the constraints on MDM arise due to type-theoretic constraints on the interpretation of the top link in the relevant movement chain. I show that in each of the four cases under discussion, the top link in the movement chain must be interpreted as a predicate over individuals (type ). Adopting van Urk’s (2105) type-driven approach to the A/A’-distinction, where A- and A’-movement differ in the type of abstraction they are associated with at LF, this precludes precluding any pure A’-movement step in the course of the derivation of these constructions. Instead, I suggest, following van Urk (2015) and Longenbaugh (2016), that the relevant mechanism is composite A/A’-movement, and that finite CPs (but not infinitives) are islands for such movement in English. MDM out of a finite clause is thus island-violating movement, which captures Cinque’s (1990) observation that MDM shows the same constraints as wh-island-violating movement. This analysis both provides a straightforward explanation of the constrained nature of the movement involved in these constructions and furnishes new evidence for the ubiquity of composite A/A’-movement in natural language.

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    April 25th, 2016

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    Ling Lunch 4/28 - Aron Hirsch  

    Speaker: Aron Hirsch (MIT)
    Title: Coordination and constituency paradoxes
    Time: Thursday, April 28th, 12:30-1:50 pm
    Place: 32-D461

    In Hirsch (2015), I discuss empirical diagnostics for hidden structure in examples like (1a), and argue for a “conjunction reduction” analysis, where (1a) involves vP conjunction rather than DP conjunction, (1b) (CR, cf. Schein 2014). Diagnostics involve the distribution of adverbs (cf. Collins 1988), available interpretations of VP ellipsis, and observed scope readings (cf. Partee & Rooth 1983).

    (1) a. John saw every student and every professor.
    b. John [t saw every student] and [t (saw) every professor].

    In this talk, I employ these same empirical tests to identify a class of constituency paradoxes. I consider cases where `DP and DP’ appears to be singled out as a constituent — (pseudo)-clefts (2a), right node raising (2b), and examples with `both’ apparently adjoining to `DP and DP’ (2c) — and demonstrate that tests for hidden structure still come out positive in these cases.

    (2) a. It’s a table and a chair that John saw.
    b. John likes and Mary hates a table and a chair (respectively).
    c. John saw both a table and a chair.

    To resolve the paradoxes, I propose derivations of (2a)-(2c) which again involve hidden structure above the DP. Finally, I show how the proposal for (2c) may extend beyond apparent DP conjunction to provide an explanation for certain data involving apparent `CP coordination’: (3), where `or’ is interpreted as scoping above the intensional predicate, and observations from Bjorkman (2013).

    (3) CNN believes either that Trump will be president or that Hillary will be. (or > believe, *believe > or)

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    April 25th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 4/25 - Benjamin Storme  

    Speaker: Benjamin Storme (MIT)
    Title: The loi de position and the acoustics of Southern French mid vowels
    Date: Monday, April 25th
    Time: 5-6:30
    Place: 32-D831

    Southern French is often described as having a syllable-based distribution of tense and lax mid vowels, traditionally known as the loi de position: tense mid vowels occur in open syllables and lax mid vowels in closed syllables. But there is disagreement among authors as to (i) whether the loi de position holds across contexts (Is it limited to stressed syllables? Is it limited to certain consonantal contexts?) and (ii) whether there is durational difference between tense and lax mid vowels (with tense mid vowels being longer). These debates are reflected in dictionaries, which show conflicting phonetic transcriptions of mid vowels (e.g. Ecossais “Scottish” and accoster “touch land” are transcribed as [ekosɛ] and [akɔste] in the Lexique 3.80, in accordance with the loi de position, but as [ekɔsɛ] and [akɔste] in the TLF).

    To answer these questions, I will present two acoustic experiments investigating the realization of French oral vowels in different syllabic/segmental/stress contexts. The results support the view that the loi de position holds both in stressed and unstressed syllables and across a range of consonantal contexts (before [r], [l], and [s]). However, the tense/lax distinction is not necessarily accompanied by a durational difference, suggesting that closed syllable vowel laxing and shortening do not always go together, contrary to what has been assumed in most phonological accounts of the loi de position.

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    April 25th, 2016

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    ESSL/LacqLab 4/25 - Cassandra Chapman  

    Speaker: Cassandra Chapman
    Time: Monday, April 25, at 1:00 PM
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Processing of logical form structure: Evidence from binding

    Previous psycholinguistic work on filler-gap dependencies demonstrates that the left-to-right incremental parser is sensitive to the syntactic dependency holding between a wh-filler and its gap position. However, little work has investigated how the parser might resolve constructions in which a phrase must be interpreted in a distinct structural position (i.e., in its logical form, or LF, position) from where it appears on the surface. The interpretation of three different types of DPs (namely, anaphors, pronouns and proper names) provide a tool to investigate LF structure in real-time. In three self-paced reading experiments, we examined how these DPs are processed in sentences where the anaphor or pronoun linearly preceded its antecedent. Results suggest that the parser searches for an antecedent as soon as it finds an unbound anaphor (Principle A) but that no such search occurs for pronouns (Principle B). Greater processing difficulty is also incurred when names are first introduced compared to pronouns, which can be explained by current models of variable binding: pronouns can enter the derivation with an index whereas an index needs to be created for names to serve as binders. In this talk, we propose a processing model which makes predictions about when processing difficulty will arise based on the current semantic theories.
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    April 25th, 2016

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    LFRG 4/29 - Paul Marty  

    Speaker: Paul Marty (MIT)
    Time: Friday, April 29, 2-3pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: What it takes ‘to win’: a linguistic point of view

    In this talk, I discuss and offer a solution to the `Puzzle of Changing Past’ presented in Barlassina and Del Prete (2014). This puzzle is based on the following true story:

    The Rise And Fall Of Lance Armstrong: On 23rd of July 2000, Lance Armstrong is declared the winner of the 87th Tour de France by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). However, on 22 October 2012, UCI withdraws all of Armstrong’s wins at Tour de France.

    Now, consider the following sentence:
    (1) Lance Armstrong won the 87th Tour de France.

    The puzzle arises from the following observations. If the proposition expressed in (1) is evaluated before `22 October 2012’, then it is true; however, if it is evaluated after `22 October 2012’, then its negation is true. This is puzzling because it challenges the platitude that the truth/falsity of what we say about the past depends on how the past is and stands as it is once and for all, as exemplified in (2).

    (2) Lance Armstrong was born in 1971.
    a. If (2) is true at a time t in w, then for any t’ such that t’>t, (2) is true at t’ in w.
    b. If (2) is false at a time t in w, then for any t’ such that t’>t, (2) is false at t’ in w.

    One possibility is to consider this puzzle as a metaphysical one, and embrace Barlassina and Del Prete’s provocative conclusion that the past can change. Instead of taking this avenue, I will argue that this puzzle is linguistic in nature, and defend the platitude. In substance, I will propose that `win’-sentences of (1) involve a covert modality which can be thought of as the remnant of the original speech-act whereby the winner is `declared’ to be so (e.g., `It was declared that Lance Armstrong won the 87th Tour de France’). I will show how this view can account for sentences of (3), and in particular for the presence of the past tense morphology in the embedded clause.

    (3) It is no longer the case that [Lance Armstrong won the 87th Tour de France].
    (4) #It is no longer the case that [Lance Armstrong was born in 1971].

    In the meantime, if you want to look at the original argument, Barlassina and Del Prete’s paper is available here.

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    April 25th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    LFRG 4/20 - Keny Chatain  

    Speaker: Keny Chatain (MIT/ENS)
    Time: Wednesday, April 20th, 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Some puzzles with demonstratives

    In this talk, I will present of some of my work in progress on demonstrative descriptions. Demonstrative descriptions exhibit a wide range of uses: they can co-occur with gestures such as pointing (deictic use), they can refer to an entity previously mentioned in the discourse (anaphoric use), or can occur on their own, without the need for external material to determine their referent. In this talk, I will focus on some cases of anaphoric uses which prove challenging under Elbourne (2001)’s influential account of demonstrative descriptions. Those cases involve sloppy interpretation of an anaphoric demonstrative when its antecedent is under the scope of a quantifier. These examples can be thought of as the counterpart of « paycheck pronouns » with demonstratives. This will allow me to highlight some parallel properties between simple pronouns and demonstratives (bridging inferences, anaphoric use, bound variables, etc). As a conclusion, I will provide an initial sketch of an analysis for these cases.
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    April 20th, 2016

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    Ling Lunch 4/21 - Daniel Margulis  

    Speaker: Daniel Margulis (MIT)
    Title: Expletive negation is an exponent of only
    Time: Thursday, April 21th, 12:30-1:50 pm
    Place: 32-D461

    Contrary to the natural assumption that negative morphemes bring about truth-condition reversal, Hebrew sentential negation does not always make the expected contribution to meaning, just like other instances of expletive negation crosslinguistically.
    Hebrew expletive negation is found in until-clauses (1) and free (headless) relative clauses (2).

    (1)   yoni   yaSan ad     Se    ha-Sxenim       lo     hidliku muzika
    +++ yoni slept   until that the-neighbors neg   lit       music
    ++ “Yoni was asleep until the neighbors turned on some music.”

    (2)   mi    Se    lo      yaSav b-a-xacer    kibel ugiya
    +++ who that neg sat      in-the-yard received cookie
    ++ “Whoever was sitting in the yard got a cookie.”

    In this talk I discuss expletive negation’s contribution to interpretation and argue that the until data should be understood as an obligatory scalar implicature, arising due to an association between expletive negation and a covert `only’.

    Why should the negative morpheme participating in expletive negation carry the meaning of `only’? I follow von Fintel & Iatridou’s (2007) decompositional analysis of `only’, according to which only has two components: negation and an exceptive, as attested overtly in some languages, e.g., French `ne…que’ and Greek `dhen…para’. Under such a view, the status of expletive negation would simply be that of any ordinary negation, and the only special property of expletive negation constructions would be that they contain a covert exceptive head.

    I provide further support for the current proposal from the observations that expletive negation cannot license negative concord and that an overt `only’ cannot accompany expletive negation. Finally, I will mention a direction in which the proposal could be extended to the free relatives data.

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    April 20th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    4/21 - last talk by Giorgio Magri  

    Speaker: Giorgio Magri (CNRS)
    Title: The Merchant/Tesar theory of inconsistency detection for learning underlying forms
    Time: Thurs 4/21 3-5pm
    Place: 32-D461

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    April 20th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Syntax Square 4/12 - Norbert Corver  

    Speaker: Norbert Corver (Utrecht)
    Title: small but BIG: Augmentative schwa in the morphosyntactic build of Dutch
    Date: Tuesday, April 12th
    Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm
    Place: 32-D461

    The abstract is available here.

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    April 11th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Ling Lunch 4/14 - Despina Oikonomou  

    Speaker: Despina Oikonomou (MIT)
    Title: Sloppy pro in Greek: an E-type analysis
    Time: Thursday, April 14th, 12:30-1:50 pm
    Place: 32-D461

    It has been observed that null subjects (NSs) in Japanese allow a sloppy interpretation whereas NSs in Romance languages do not (Oku 1998). This difference has led to the idea that NSs in Japanese-type languages is an instance of argument ellipsis whereas in Spanish-type languages they are silent pronouns (Oku 1998, Saito 2007, Takahashi 2007). However, Duguine (2014) provides empirical evidence for the availability of sloppy readings in Spanish and Basque NSs and argues for a unitary approach of NSs as Argument DP-Ellipsis.

    In this talk, I show that sloppy readings are also available in Greek NSs (1), but I provide evidence against a DP-Ellipsis analysis. I argue instead that the sloppy NSs in Greek are E-type pronouns (`paycheck’ pronouns (Cooper 1979)) in the sense of Elbourne’s (2001) approach.

    (1) A: i   Maria ipe   oti     to   agapimeno tis       fagito ine o musakas.
    +++ the Maria said that the favorite     her.Poss food is the moussaka
    +++ ‘Maria said that her favorite food is moussaka.’

    + B: i   Yoko ipe   oti ∅   ine to sushi.
    ++ the Yoko said that ∅ is the sushi
    ++ ‘Yoko said [it] is sushi.’
    √Sloppy reading: Yoko said that Yoko’s favorite food is sushi.

    Elbourne (2001) analyzes E-type pronouns as a determiner plus NP-Ellipsis. I show that sloppy interpretation becomes available when the antecedent involves a relational as opposed to a sortal noun. This contrast follows from Elbourne’s analysis; in relational nouns the possessor is an argument of the NP (Barker 1991), therefore it is present in the elided NP and can be bound. Object clitics behave in a similar way, allowing sloppy interpretations under certain conditions (cf. Giannakidou & Merchant 1997). A new question arises as to whether an E-type analysis of sloppy NSs is applicable in Japanese as well (Miyagawa 2015).

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    April 11th, 2016

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    LFRG 4/15 - Paul Marty  

    Speaker: Paul Marty (MIT)
    Time: Friday, April 15th, 12-1pm
    Place: 32-D461
    Title: What it takes ‘to win’: a linguistic point of view

    In this talk, I discuss and offer a solution to the `Puzzle of Changing Past’ presented in Barlassina and Del Prete (2014). This puzzle is based on the following true story:

    The Rise And Fall Of Lance Armstrong: On 23rd of July 2000, Lance Armstrong is declared the winner of the 87th Tour de France by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). However, on 22 October 2012, UCI withdraws all of Armstrong’s wins at Tour de France.

    Now, consider the following sentence:
    (1) Lance Armstrong won the 87th Tour de France.

    The puzzle arises from the following observations. If the proposition expressed in (1) is evaluated before `22 October 2012’, then it is true; however, if it is evaluated after `22 October 2012’, then its negation is true. This is puzzling because it challenges the platitude that the truth/falsity of what we say about the past depends on how the past is and stands as it is once and for all, as exemplified in (2).

    (2) Lance Armstrong was born in 1971.
    a. If (2) is true at a time t in w, then for any t’ such that t’>t, (2) is true at t’ in w.
    b. If (2) is false at a time t in w, then for any t’ such that t’>t, (2) is false at t’ in w.

    One possibility is to consider this puzzle as a metaphysical one, and embrace Barlassina and Del Prete’s provocative conclusion that the past can change. Instead of taking this avenue, I will argue that this puzzle is linguistic in nature, and defend the platitude. In substance, I will propose that `win’-sentences of (1) involve a covert modality which can be thought of as the remnant of the original speech-act whereby the winner is `declared’ to be so (e.g., `It was declared that Lance Armstrong won the 87th Tour de France’). I will show how this view can account for sentences of (3), and in particular for the presence of the past tense morphology in the embedded clause.

    (3) It is no longer the case that [Lance Armstrong won the 87th Tour de France].
    (4) #It is no longer the case that [Lance Armstrong was born in 1971].

    In the meantime, if you want to look at the original argument, Barlassina and Del Prete’s paper is available here.

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    April 11th, 2016

    Posted in Talks

    Colloquium 4/15 - Amy Rose Deal  

    Speaker: Amy Rose Deal (UC Berkeley)
    Title: Shifty asymmetries: toward universals and variation in shifty indexicality
    Time: Friday, 04/15/2016, 3:30-5:00pm
    Venue: 32-141

    Indexical shift is a phenomenon whereby indexicals embedded in speech and attitude reports depend for their reference on the speech/attitude report, rather than on the overall utterance. For example, in a language with indexical shift, “I” may refer to Bob in a sentence like “Who did Bob think I saw?”. The last 15 years have seen an explosive growth in research on indexical shift cross-linguistically. In this talk, I discuss three major generalizations that emerge from this work, and present a theory that attempts to explain them. The account that I develop concerns the syntax of indexical shift along with its semantics, and has consequences for the linguistic encoding of attitudes de se. Throughout the talk I will exemplify indexical shift primarily, though by no means exclusively, with data from original fieldwork on Nez Perce.
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    April 11th, 2016

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    ESSL/LaqLab Meeting 4/11  

    Speaker: Athulya Aravind (MIT)
    Title: Children’s understanding of factive forget/remember
    Date and time: Monday, April 11th, 1:00 to 2:00 PM
    Venue: 32-D831

    Children have been reported to have enduring difficulties with cognitive factives, even at an age when they don’t have generalized difficulties with (non-factive) attitude predicates or presupposition triggers. Specifically, children behave as if they don’t know that the veracity inference survives under negation. We examine 4-6-year-olds’ understanding of the factive verb-pair forget/remember and find two populations: one group (n=13) displays adult-like performance, while the other (n=19) appears to be treating factive predicates on par with their implicative counterparts. My goal for this talk will be twofold: (i) consider whether this pattern is indicative of an acquisition stage where children lack a factive representation for remember/forget and (ii) discuss ideas for follow-up experiments that could adjudicate between different interpretations of these results.
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    April 11th, 2016

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    ESSL / LaqLab Meeting 4/4 - Sudha Arunachalam  

    Speaker: Sudha Arunachalam (BU)
    Title: How do children learn the meanings of event nominals?
    Date and time: Monday, April 4th, 1:00 to 2:00 PM
    Venue: 32-D831

    Abstract: In the literature on vocabulary acquisition, much attention has been paid to the conceptual and linguistic differences between early-acquired verbs (labels for actions) and early-acquired nouns (labels for objects and people) and how these pose different learning tasks for the child. Event nominals pose an interesting challenge in that some are relatively early acquired, like “party” and “nap,” but they pose the same conceptual difficulties that accompany verbs while lacking the linguistic supports offered by verb argument structure. I would like to have an informal discussion about how we might investigate children’s representations for these early event nominals and what underlies their abilities to acquire them.
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    April 4th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 4/4 - Donca Steriade  

    Speaker: Donca Steriade (MIT)
    Title: ATB-shifts and ATB-blockage in vocalic plateaus
    Date/Time: Monday, April 4, 5:00–6:30pm
    Location: 32-D831

    The abstract is available here.

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    April 4th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 4/5 - Fabian Moss  

    Speaker: Fabian Moss (TU Dresden) (BU)
    Title: Towards a syntactic account for harmonic sequences in extended tonality
    Date and time: Tuesday, April 5, 1:00 to 2:00 PM
    Venue: 32-D461

    A fundamental aspect of Western music is tonal harmony, or tonality, a complex rule system for specifying a) acceptable combinations of notes and chords within a key through reference to the tonic, its tonal center, and b) relationships between different keys. This is usually called harmonic function. Implicit knowledge of harmonic functions enables listeners to form strong expectations about the harmonic structure of musical pieces. To account for this phenomenon, previous research points to hierarchical grammatical models similar to those used to account for linguistic structure. The harmonic structure in music of the common practice period (Bach to Beethoven) is well described by grammars which define harmonic functions as recursive, tonic-headed patterns. In extended tonality, the language of the romantic period (Schubert to Mahler), harmonic patterns can be formalized in terms of finite state automata or as finite cyclic groups of transformations acting on notes or chords. However, the relationship to hierarchical descriptions and thus the integration into cognitive models that account for the building of harmonic expectations faces several challenges:
  • How to deal with cyclic patterns?
  • Are local dependencies enough?
  • How to determine head(s) of phrases?
  • This talk will outline the conceptual framework for dealing with musical instances of extended tonality in order to draw connections to current cognitive models of tonal harmony. Musical examples that will be discussed include:
  • F. Liszt: 5 Klavierstücke S. 192, No. 2 (Lento assai)
  • L. v. Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 op. 125, mvt. 2 (Scherzo)
  • J. Brahms: Double Concerto in A-minor, op. 102, mvt. 2 (Andante)
  • G. Verdi: Messa da Requiem (Rex Tremendae)
  • A. Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 “From The New World”, mvt. 2 “Largo”
  • A. Bruckner: “Ecce sacerdos magnus”, WAB 13
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    April 4th, 2016

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    LFRG 4/6 - Mike Jacques  

    Speaker: Mike Jacques (MIT)
    Time: Wednesday, April 6th, 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831
    Title: Approximators and Exceptives

    There is a class of approximators (almost, nearly, practically) that have an anomalous distribution with quantifiers - approximator + universal quantifier is grammatical, while approximator + existential quantifier is ungrammatical. Consider the following data:

    a. Almost/Nearly/Practically every student is here
    b. Almost/Nearly/Practically no students are here
    c. *Almost/Nearly/Practically {some/most/the/5} students are here

    Previous analyses of these operators have failed to account for the distribution in (1). I argue that the key data point in trying to give a semantics for these approximators is their close relation with exceptive phrases. Consider the exceptive phrases with but in (2):

    a. Every student but John is here
    b. No student but John is here
    c. *Some/Most/5/the students but John are here

    In this talk, I argue that a precise semantics for these approximators can be given in terms of an exceptive semantics, where the exception itself is existentially quantified. I show that this semantics, coupled with pragmatic considerations of “closeness,” gives a straightforward prediction for approximators and quantifiers, which correctly accounts for the data in (1).

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    April 4th, 2016

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    Ling Lunch 4/7 - Adina Dragomirescu & Alexandru Nicolae  

    Speaker: Adina Dragomirescu & Alexandru Nicolae (Romanian Academy - University of Bucharest)
    Title: Inflected `non-finite’ forms: The Romance inflected infinitive vs. the Romanian Supine
    Time: Thursday, April 7th, 12:30-1:50 pm
    Place: 32-D461

    In this talk we introduce the relevant data related to the inflected infinitive in the Romance languages and in languages from other families. We focus on the relation between inflected and non-inflected (regular) infinitives and on the origin of the inflected forms. The data presented make it difficult to give straightforward answers to questions like ‘what is an infinitive?’ or ‘how can we distinguish between an inflected infinitive and a subjunctive?’.

    We then turn to the data regarding the Romanian supine and the competition between supine, infinitive and subjunctive forms in Modern Standard Romanian. We also pay attention to the usage of the supine in the northern varieties of Romanian, which, in contrast to the standard supine allows clitics, negation and even person and number agreement. This suggests that the functional structure of the standard supine is reduced when compared to the northern varieties.

    Finally, we try to put all these data in the context of the ‘exfoliation’ hypothesis, presented by David Pesetsky in his class this semester. We show that the Romanian infinitive, like the inflected infinitive in other Romance languages, projects a full non-finite clausal domain, so that exfoliation is not relevant here. However, the standard supine (incompatible with subjects, clitics, and negation) obtains via exfoliation of the C domain, the higher projection being probably the MoodP, where de, the supine marker, is hosted. However, in the northern varieties, the supine is a CP, with de hosted by the C domain, and its functional domain contains at least NegP (where the negation is hosted), and a PersP (where clitics are hosted). Empirical arguments for distinguishing between ‘exfoliation’ and (Rizzi’s / Wurmbrand’s) ‘restructuring’ are also presented.

    Open issues: Is exfoliation relevant from a diachronic point of view? Is exfoliation reversible? What is the relation between grammaticalization and exfoliation?

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    April 4th, 2016

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    ESSL/LacqLab 3/28 - Brian Dillon  

    Speaker: Brian Dillon (UMass)
    Title: Which noun phrases is this verb supposed to agree with… and when?
    Date and time: Monday, March 28, in 32-D831, 1:00-2:00 pm

    The study of agreement constraints has yielded much insight into the organization of grammatical knowledge, within and across languages. In a parallel fashion, the study of agreement production and comprehension have provided key data in the development of theories of language production and comprehension. In this talk I present work at the intersection of these two research traditions. I present the results of experimental research (joint work with Adrian Staub, Charles Clifton Jr, and Josh Levy) that suggests that the grammar of many American English speakers is variable: in certain syntactic configurations, more than one NP is permitted to control agreement (Kimball & Aissen, 1971). However, our work suggests that this variability is not random, and in particular, optional agreement processes are constrained by the nature of the parser. We propose that variable agreement choices arise in part as a function of how the parser stores syntactic material in working memory d uring the incremental production of syntactic structures.
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    March 28th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 3/28 - Kevin Ryan  

    Speaker: Kevin Ryan (Harvard)
    Title: Strictness functions in meter
    Date/Time: Monday, March 28, 5:00-6:30pm
    Location: 32-D831

    Meters can vary in strictness along several dimensions, four of which I’ll illustrate using the Finnish Kalevala, though the principles are arguably universal.
    1. Strictness increases across constituents such as the line (couplet, etc.), such that exceptions are most frequent at the beginning and taper off towards the end.
    2. Although the meter is conventionally described as regulating only stressed syllables, I show that degree of regulation correlates with degree of stress, such that violations of the meter are more tolerated for more weakly stressed syllables, but not fully ignored.
    3. Although conventionally described as binary, the meter evidently treats weight as gradient, such that the more the duration of a syllable deviates from its metrical target, the more the mapping is penalized.
    4. Word boundaries are increasingly avoided towards the end of the line (beyond prose baselines). The conventionally recognized prohibition on line-final monosyllables is only the most extreme manifestation of this tendency.
    In all four cases, strictness of mapping (i.e. how much a violation of the meter is “felt”) is modulated by some scale such as position in the line, stress level, or duration. I discuss how such modulations of strictness can be modeled in a maxent or logistic constraint framework and some resulting typological predictions.
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    March 28th, 2016

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    Syntax Square 3/29 - Kenyon Branan  

    Speaker: Kenyon Branan (MIT)
    Title: Real object agreement in Tigre
    Date: Tuesday, March 29th
    Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm
    Place: 32-D461

    Whenever the phi-features of an argument are cross-referenced by a morpheme in the verbal complex, the question arises: is this morpheme an agreement morpheme, or is it a doubled clitic. Recently, instances of object cross-referencing have been argued to be clitic doubling (Woolford 2008, Preminger 2009, Nevins 2011, Kramer 2014), raising the question of whether or not languages ever allow for true object agreement. I’ll argue, based on a variety of diagnostics, that object cross-referencing in Tigre appears to be a real instance of Agree.
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    March 28th, 2016

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    LFRG 3/30 - Daniel Margulis  

    Speaker: Daniel Margulis (MIT)
    Time: Wednesday, March 30, 1-2pm
    Place: 32-D831

    Daniel Margulis will discuss Champollion’s (2016) paper titled Overt distributivity in algebraic event semantics.

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    March 28th, 2016

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    Ling Lunch 3/31 - Naomi Francis  

    Speaker: Naomi Francis (MIT)
    Title: Scope in negative inversion constructions: Evidence from positive polarity item modals
    Time: Thursday, March 31th, 12:30-1:45 pm
    Place: 32-D461

    Negative inversion is a construction that involves the preposing of a negative expression and obligatory subject-auxiliary inversion (e.g. `Under no circumstances are you to buy another pet giraffe’). Collins and Postal (2014) claim that the preposed negative element takes scope over everything else in the clause. I show that, while the negative expression does take scope over quantificational DPs, deontic modals should, must, and to be to, which have been argued to be positive polarity items (PPIs) (Iatridou & Zeijlstra 2013), are able to outscope it. I argue that this can be explained if PPI modals undergo covert movement to escape environments where they are not licensed, as proposed by Iatridou and Zeijlstra (2013) and Homer (2015). This picture is complicated by the fact that epistemic PPI modals behave differently from their deontic counterparts in negative inversion constructions. Furthermore, there is interspeaker variation in the acceptability of epistemic PPI modals in these constructions; at least two patterns of data are attested. I propose that these facts can be captured if we allow certain aspects of the Epistemic Containment Principle (von Fintel & Iatridou 2003) to vary across speakers.

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    March 28th, 2016

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    Reading group 3/31 - Hayes, Wilson, and Shisko (2012)  

    Paper: Hayes, Wilson, and Shisko (2012) “Maxent Grammars for the Metrics of Shakespeare and Milton” Language 88.4, pp. 691-731
    Time: Thursday, 03/31/2016, 5:00-6:30 PM
    Venue: 32-D461

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    March 28th, 2016

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    Colloquium 4/1 - Bruce Hayes  

    Speaker: Bruce Hayes (UCLA)
    Title: Stochastic constraint-based grammars for Hausa verse and song
    Date: Friday, April 1st
    Time: 3:30-5:00 PM
    Place: 32-141

    I pursue a long-standing tradition in phonology, namely appeal to poetic metrics as a testing ground for ideas more broadly applicable in phonology as a whole. The research I will describe is from an ongoing collaboration with Russell Schuh of UCLA.

    The rajaz meter of Hausa is based on syllable quantity. In its dimeter form, it deploys lines consisting of two metra, each with six moras. A variety of metra occur, and the analytical challenge is to single out the legal metra from the set of logically possible metra. Our analysis, framed in maxent OT, does this, and also accounts for the statistical distribution of metron types — varying from poem to poem — within the line and stanza. We also demonstrate a law of comparative frequency for rajaz and show how it emerges naturally in maxent when competing candidates are in a relationship of harmonic bounding.

    Turning to how verse is sung, we observe that rajaz verse rhythm is always remapped onto a sung rhythm, and we consider grammatical architectures, some serial, that can characterize this remapping. Lastly, we develop a maxent phonetic grammar, adapting the framework of Edward Flemming, to predict the durations of the sung syllables. Our constraints simultaneously invoke all levels of structure: the syllables and moras of the phonology, the grids used for poetic scansion, and the grids used for sung rhythm.

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    March 28th, 2016

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    ESSL/LacqLab 3/14 - Katsuo Tamaoka  

    Speaker: Katsuo Tamaoka(Nagoya University, Japan)
    Title: Indexing Movement: Eye-tracking experiments on Japanese scrambled sentences
    Date/Time: Monday, March 14, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
    Location: 32-D769 (location change)

    Movement is part of many syntactic structures. However, due to the absence of a directly-compatible baseline, it is usually difficult to visualize syntactic movement in sentence. Japanese scrambled sentences provide an ideal environment for visualizing movement. This talk presents the results of eye-tracking experiments that compared scrambled and canonical Japanese sentences. The results indicate three possible indexes for movement; (1) re-reading time of a moved phrase, (2) regression frequency ratio into the moved phrase, and (3) regression frequency ratio out of the possible trace position. At least one of these three (if not all), depending on the ease of processing load, is likely to appear in the scrambled sentences. This talk will propose the possible indexes for movement in the cognitive processing of sentences.
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    March 14th, 2016

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    Phonology Circle 3/14 - Patrick Jones and Jake Freyer  

    Speaker: Patrick Jones (Harvard) and Jake Freyer (Brandeis)
    Title: Emergent complexity in melodic tone: The case of Kikamba
    Date/Time: Monday, March 14, 5:00-6:00pm
    Location: 32-D831

    Melodic tone assignment, in which inflectional features of verbs are signaled entirely through tonal morphemes assigned to particular positions within verb stems, are pervasive within Bantu languages. A considerable body of recent work has focused on melodic tone in various Bantu languages, in an effort to better understand its core properties (in particular, the extensive 2014 volume of Africana Linguistica, edited by Lee Bickmore and David Odden). From this work, one possible conclusion is that melodic tone is relatively unconstrained both in what tones it may assign and what positions within the verb stem they may target. For example, in one extreme case, in Kikamba, a melody reportedly assigns four distinct tones to three separate positions simultaneously. In this talk, we propose a reanalysis of Kikamba which (a) restricts melodies to two target positions and (b) reduces the total inventory of target sites. More generally, we argue that since core properties of melodic tone are often obscured in surface forms due to interactions with language-particular rules, the cross-linguistic comparison of melodic tone should proceed on the basis a (more) underlying level in which these rules are controlled for.
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    March 14th, 2016

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