The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, October 24th, 2022

Industry workshop (10/26) - Sarah Clark

Who: Sarah Clark
when: 2pm
where: virtual talk (contact Hadas for zoom link)
what: I completed my masters in linguistics in 2019 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the moment, I am working toward my doctorate in linguistics at UIUC. I specialize in sociolinguistics, specifically critical discourse analysis, the interplay of ideology and identity, organizational communication, and military and veteran identity. I have been working during my whole program for the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Construction Engineering Research Laboratory. My duty title is Strategic Communications Officer and I lead all internal organizational communication to support and grow our multi-million dollar portfolio. In other words, I help engineers talk to each other and non-engineers in order to do the mission. Working outside of academia is by far the gold standard for linguists in my opinion - we are linguists who are creative, resilient and have the honor of bringing the power of linguistics to the real world!


LF Reading Group (10/26) - Bergül Soykan

LFRG is excited to welcome Bergül this week! The meeting will be in person, but we’ll set up OWL for people in the department who want to attend virtually.
Zoom link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/94298987190
Speaker: Bergül Soykan (MIT)
Date and time: Wednesday 10/26, 1-2pm
In-person location: 32-D461 
Title: Past in Turkish Conditionals

Background: The past morpheme in Turkish conditionals can either precede the indicative conditional marker or follow the subjunctive one as shown by (1) and (2), respectively. While (1) can be uttered in a context where the speaker is oblivious about whether Esra went home or not, (2) is most likely to be uttered when the speaker knows that she did not go home, i.e., in counterfactual scenarios.

There are also the non-past subjunctive conditional constructions in Turkish as in (3), which can be licensed in cases where the speaker believes the antecedent event to be unlikely to occur.

Problem: The differences between these constructions can be handled from two perspectives.

PAST [INDICATIVE vs SUBJUNCTIVE]: The antecedent past marker in (1) does not affect the time of its consequent whereas the one in (2) requires the use of past in the consequent clause. Interestingly though, it is not necessary to have the past morpheme in the antecedent to have a past subjunctive conditional; having it in the consequent would suffice without any significant meaning difference. Moreover, while the past indicative conditional only licenses past time adverbials in its antecedent, the subjunctive one can be used with both past and non-past adverbials.

[NON-PAST vs PAST] subjunctive: Although both (2) and (3) are accessible in counterfactual contexts where Esra is not going home at the utterance time, they differ in their presuppositions. For instance, the existence presupposition must hold for the non-past subjunctive but not for the past version; namely, (2) is still available in a context time where Esra is not alive while (3) is not.

Proposal: Considering all these aspects, I claim that the past in subjunctive conditionals is interpreted outside the modal operator (Ippolito, 2002), setting the modal time (“reference time” in her proposal) to the past while the one in indicatives is interpreted inside its own proposition. I suggest that this shift in the modal time of the conditional clause lets us make claims about the future possibilities from a past perspective and hence makes it possible to use non-past time adverbials along with the past ones. However, contrary to Ippolito’s (2002) claim, I argue that past subjunctives hold no presuppositions with respect to the utterance time (Leahy, 2011), to explain the difference between past and non-past subjunctives. In my account, non-past subjunctives have a special speaker-oriented likelihood presupposition, where the speaker considers the antecedent to be more likely to be false than true, in addition to other presuppositions. Nevertheless, the past subjunctive holds no presuppositions and generates the counterfactuality implicature by competing with its past indicative counterpart (Leahy, 2017).


MIT @ AMP 2022 (10/21-3)!

MIT folks presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting on Phonology (AMP 2022) which happened on October 21-23 at UCLA. Donca gave an invited plenary talk, and students and faculty members gave presentations: 

Current students and faculty:

Donca Steriade (Faculty): Vowel-to-Vowel intervals in quantitative meter (Plenary Talk)

Boer Fu (6th year): The Segment Status of the Mandarin Glide: A Language Game Experiment (poster)

Eunsun Jou (4th year): An economy-based amendment to Robust Interpretive Parsing with the GLA (poster)

Giorgio Magri (Visiting Associate Professor, PhD 2009) and Arto Anttila: Paradoxes of MaxEnt markedness (poster)

Canaan Breiss (Postdoctoral Associate, MIT BCS): Lexical Conservatism as an empirical challenge to obligatory cyclic inheritance (talk)


Ora Matushansky (PhD 2002): Russian transitive softening as ablaut

Bingzi Yu and Youngah Do (PhD 2013): The transmission of vowel (dis)harmony: An iterative learning study

Coppe Van Urk (PhD 2015) and Adam Chong: The roots of non-concatenative morphology in Western Nilotic

MIT @ the 54th Algonquian Conference (10/20-23)

Some of MIT presented at the 54th Algonquian Conference this weekend (Oct 20-23) at CU Boulder

Peter Grishin (5th year): Subordinative long distance agreement in Passamaquoddy-Wolastoqey and the syntax of the inverse

Peter Grishin (5th year) and Will Oxford (visiting associate professor): Patterns of portmanteau robustness across Algonquian

Happy birthdays to Anastasia Tsilia and Christopher Legerme!

Three of our grad students, Anastasia Tsilia (now 24), Christopher Legerme (now 30), and Shrayana Haldar (now 23) had birthday celebrations in the department last week, complete with cake! Happy belated!

New paper by Aravind & Koring in Language Acquisition

A new paper on the acquisition of syntax has appeared in the journal Language Acquisition coauthored by our colleague Athulya Aravind and Loes Koring (who was a postdoctoral associate and teacher/advisor in our department in 2016-2018) — entitled “Experiencer troubles: A reappraisal of the predicate-based asymmetry in child passives”. Congratulations, Athulya and Loes!
You can read the open-access paper (and the abstract) at https://www.tandfonline.com/…/10…/10489223.2022.2115373
And for good measure, visit the homepage of the MIT Language Acquisition Lab: https://www.childlanguage.mit.edu.