The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, November 21st, 2016

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)

(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…

(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

(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.


DeGraff teaches Kreyòl Studies course

Faculty Michel DeGraff is excited to teach the first “Kreyòl Studies” course for Boston Public School teachers. The first session of a 5-session 10-hour series was this past Thursday, November 17, 2016. Here are excerpts from the course description:

“This course is to provide historical, cultural and linguistic background to fourteen Boston Public School (BPS) teachers who will support BPS’s Kreyòl/English Dual Language Program and other educators who support students of Haitian descent. Why are such Dual Language Programs so crucially important for the future success of all of our children? What do BPS teachers need to know about the linguistic, cultural, social and political backgrounds of their students from Haiti? How can the cultural and linguistic assets of these children contribute to their wellbeing and that of society at large? In answering these questions, we will mine history and linguistics for lessons that may help improve education for and about Haitians in Haiti and in the diaspora—and eventually set up models toward improving education for all children.


Our asking and answering these and related questions will bear on the importance of a Kreyòl/English Dual Language Program in the Boston Public School system. Such Dual Language programs can, in many ways, be a game changer as they help create, locally, citizens with global understanding of history, culture and language—citizens that can use local cultural and linguistic assets in confronting and solving global challenges.”

More details can be found here.


The Southern New England Workshop in Semantics (SNEWS) is an annual graduate student conference that brings together presenters from six universities: Harvard, MIT, Brown, Yale, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and University of Connecticut. This year, SNEWS took place at Brown University. The following MIT grad students gave talks:

  • Itai Bassi: A puzzle about binding by focus operators
  • Amanda Swenson: Existential and episodic: Reexamining the Malayalam -unnu Imperfective

MIT @ Tu+2

Turkish, Turkic, and the Languages of Turkey (Tu+2) took place on November 19-20, 2016 at Indiana University, Bloomington. MIT was represented by the following students and alumni:

  • 2nd year PhD students Colin Davis and Justin Colley: Phase extension and Turkish clausal nominalization
  • 5th year PhD student Isa Bayirli: Does Turkish have adjective ordering restrictions?

  • MIT @ FAMLi4

    The fourth edition of FAMLi (Form and Analysis in Mayan Linguistics) took place on November 17 and 18 at Universidad de Oriente (México). Several current students and alumni gave talks:

    Cora Lesure (first year grad student) — La morfofonología del chuj y la representación ortográfica

    Carol-Rose Little, Morella Vázques Martínez, Lauren Clemens and Jessica Coon (PhD ‘10) — Codificación del enfoque en el habla semi-natural en ch’ol

    Theodore Levin (PhD ‘15) and Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (PhD ‘14) — On the availability of argument ellipsis in Kaqchikel

    Christopher Baron (first year grad student) — A prospective puzzle and a possible solution

    Jessica Coon was also one of the invited speakers. She gave a talk entitled Construyendo verbos en ch’ol y chuj.