Syntax/Semantics Reading Group, 11/25 — Carol-Rose Little and Mary Moroney

The next syntax-semantics reading group meeting will take place Monday (25/11) at 14:30 in room 002.

We will have two guest speakers from Cornell University: Carol-Rose Little and Mary Moroney. The titles and abstracts for their presentations are found below:

Carol-Rose Little

Title: Absolutive case assignment and the Mapping Hypothesis

Abstract: In this talk, I apply insights from the Mapping Hypothesis (Diesing 1992) to object case assignment in ergative languages (Aldridge 2004, 2008; Legate 2002, 2008; Coon et al. 2014). Objects remaining in the VP can receive an existential interpretation Diesing (1992). It is therefore expected that under theories of syntactic ergativity where the object must move, an existential interpretation should not be available for the moved object. In the first part of the talk, I present data from fieldwork with Ch’ol on bare nouns. I account for the available interpretations of bare nouns in Ch’ol, a language where the object is licensed absolutive case in situ. In the second part of the talk, I present analyses of Tagalog and Eskimo-Aleut languages, where objects must move. In these languages, an existential interpretation is not available for the object, unlike in Ch’ol. I end with implications for (i) the interpretation of absolutive objects; (ii) available type shifters in natural language; and (iii) languages with and without overt definite articles.

Mary Moroney

Title: Reference and Number Marking: Implications from Shan

Abstract: Shan, a Southwestern Tai language spoken in Myanmar, Thailand, and nearby countries, uses bare nouns to express both unique and anaphoric definiteness, a distinction identified by Schwarz (2009). This contrasts with languages like Mandarin and Thai which Jenks (2015) and (2018) claimed use bare nouns for unique definiteness and demonstrative phrases for anaphoric definiteness. I analyze this pattern of data using a type shifting analysis (Chierchia 1998; Dayal 2004; Deal & Nee 2018; among others). This talk examines examples of Donkey Anaphora and draws implications about the connection between plurality and expressions of (in)definiteness.

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