The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LFRG 08/30 - Marie-Christine Meyer

Speaker: Marie-Christine Meyer (ZAS Berlin)
Title: Sound Patterns of Exhaustification
Date and time: Wedensday August 30, 1:00-2:00pm
Location: 32-D461

In this talk I will suggest a compositional semantics for certain intonational contours, arguing that the falling (LL%) and rising (LH%) boundary tones are what I call weak and strong exhaustification morphemes. These morphemes occur together with a L+H* pitch accent in constructions that have been studied under the names of Meta-linguistic Negation (e.g. Horn 1989), Contrastive Negation (e.g. McCawley 1991), and Contrastive Focus (e.g. Bolinger 1965, Rooth 1985), whereas intonational tunes like L+H*LH% have been studied in relation to their use as indicating speaker uncertainty and/or contrastive topics (e.g. Büring 1997, 2003). I will show how the semantic/pragmatic contribution of these intonational tunes across constructions is mediated by (i) the semantics of L+H* and LL% or LH% (ii) economy principles like Efficiency (Meyer 2013, 2015), (iii) quantifier domain restriction of LL% and LH%, which allows for the possibility of anaphora between the levels of presupposed and exhaustified (i.e. asserted) content (e.g. Karttunen & Peters 1979, von Fintel 1994) as well as contextual symmetry breaking of ALT (cf. Fox & Katzir 2011), and (iv) independent constraints on structural alternatives (Katzir 2007).