Semantics Group, 4/26 – Bernhard Schwarz (joint work with Alexandra Simonenko and David Oshima)

This week, Bernhard Schwarz will present his joint work with Alexandra Simonenko and David Oshima.

Title: Factive islands from necessary blocking
Abstract: Szabolcsi and Zwarts (1993) discovered a type of factive island effect where question-forming wh-movement from the complement of a factive predicate can be rendered unacceptable by the complement’s content. On Oshima’s (2007) account, fleshed out in Schwarz and Simonenko (2018), factive islands are due to the necessary conflict between two felicity conditions. We present new data from multiple questions to argue that this account undergenerates factive islands, and we propose an account in terms of necessary blocking that applies correctly to both classic instances of the effect (Szabolcsi and Zwarts 1993) and factive islands with multiple questions. This finding informs the general discussion of the meaning-based unacceptability of semantically interpretable sentences (e.g., Abrusan 2014; Chierchia 2013; Del Pinal 2017; Gajewski 2002;Mayr 2017; Oshima 2007; Schwarz and Simonenko 2018), where factive islands have been considered as an important test bench (Abrusan 2014; Del Pinal 2017; Oshima 2007; Schwarz and Simonenko 2018).
As usual, we will meet on Friday in Room 117 at 3pm. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 4/5 – Daniel Hole (Stuttgart University)

This Friday, Daniel Hole (Stuttgart University) will be giving a talk titled “Arguments for a universal distributed syntax of evaluation, scalarity and basic focus quantification with ‘only’”.

Abstract: In this talk, I review the evidence that has been adduced for a multi-constituent syntax of focus particle constructions. Traditionally, those components that I model as independent morphemes with their own scope-taking properties have been analyzed as submorphemic components of focus particles. I use ‘only’ words to make this point. This work is based on Hole (2013, 2015, 2017), and it makes use of data from Chinese, Vietnamese, German and Dutch. However, many arguments carry over to English. Time allowing, I will also present novel data from the interaction of German nur with modals and the German NPI modal brauchen ‘need (+NPI)’. This approach to focus particles stands in stark contrast to Büring & Hartmann (2001) or Coppock & Beaver (2013) and follows trains of thought as laid out in Smeets and Wagner (2018).
We will meet at 3:30 (Room TBD, but likely R117). All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 3/29 – Aron Hirsch and Bernhard Schwarz

This Friday, Aron Hirsch and Bernhard Schwarz will present their joint work on which-questions.
Title: Singular which, mention-some, and variable scope uniqueness.
Abstract:
We present data that we take to support the conclusion that the uniqueness presupposition of singular which-questions is not triggered by an answer operator, as proposed in Dayal (1996), but is instead triggered by which itself. The key observation is that uniqueness may be introduced at a low site, below where the answer operator necessarily takes scope. Our conclusion clears the way for an attractive analysis of mention-some questions, put forward in Fox (2013).
As usual, we will be meeting at 3pm in Room 117. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 3/1 – Michael Wagner

This week, Michael Wagner will give a talk titled “Interactions between focus and choice of intonational tune”. As usual, we will meet on Friday at 3pm in Room 117. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 2/22 – Grégoire Winterstein (UQAM)

After a long wait, we are happy to announce the first presentation of the Semantics Group in the Winter term. Grégoire Winterstein (UQAM) will give a talk titled “Bayesian argumentation within language: the case of ‘even’ “.

Abstract: In this talk, I will present some evidence that support the idea that some natural language expressions encode argumentative constraints. Practically, this means that the linguistic form of an utterance matters when evaluating the sort of conclusion the speaker is trying to support in discourse, and how effective their utterance is in providing support for these conclusions. To formalize these argumentative effects, I use a Bayesian approach that gives a probabilistic interpretation to argumentation and assumes that semantic meaning also deals with probabilities. To illustrate, I will discuss the case of scalar additive elements such as English “even” that have been analyzed as conveying the argumentative superiority of their prejacent compared to their antecedent. I argue against such an analysis, but still maintain that their semantics is argumentative.

As usual, the meeting will take place in Room 117 starting at 3:00pm. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 2/15 – Grégoire Winterstein (UQAM)

This Friday, we will have our first meeting in the Winter term. Grégoire Winterstein (UQAM) will give a talk titled “The augmentative properties of ‘even’ “.

As usual, the meeting will take place in Room 117 starting at 3:00pm. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 30/11

In this week’s meeting, Masashi Harada will give a talk titled “Contextual effects on case in Japanese copular constructions: A solution by ellipsis.” Abstract below. As usual, the meeting will take place on Friday at 3pm in Room 117. All are welcome to attend!

Abstract: I discuss a new type of case connectivity effects in copular constructions, based on Japanese data. I show that the availability of accusative case on the predicate nominal in Japanese copular sentences depends on the context where the sentence occurs. This contextual effect is surprising because case assignment is generally considered to be a purely morpho-syntactic phenomenon. However, I reconcile the contextual variability in case with morpho-syntactic case licensing theory. Specifically, I propose that the copular sentences in question involve ellipsis taking as its antecedent pro that has its value  determined contextually. The proposed analysis yields a new insight into the mechanism of ellipsis seemingly without a linguistic antecedent, and advance analysis of connectivity effects.

Semantics Group, 11/23

In this week’s meeting, Francesco Gentile and Bernhard Schwarz will present their joint work on how many-questions. Below is the abstract of their Sinn und Bedeutung’s paper “A uniqueness puzzle: how many-questions and non-distributive predication.”

We discuss a novel observation about the meaning of how many-questions, viz. a uniqueness implication that arises in cases that feature non-distributive predicates, such as How many students solved this problem together?. We attempt an analysis of this effect in terms of Dayal’s (1996) Maximal Informativity Presupposition for questions. We observe that such an analysis must be reconciled with the unexpected absence of uniqueness implications in cases where the non-distributive predicate appears under a possibility modal. We explore two possible solutions: (i) the postulation of a scopally mobile maximality operator in degree questions of the sort proposed in Abrusán and Spector (2011); (ii) the proposal that the informativity to be maximized is based on pragmatic, contextual, entailment rather than semantic entailment. We explain why neither solution is satisfactory. We also observe that a Maximal Informativity Presupposition fails to capture uniqueness implications in how many-questions with predicates that are weakly distributive in the sense of Buccola and Spector (2016), such as How many students in the seminar have the same first name?. We conclude that uniqueness implications in how many-questions have must have a source that is independent of Dayal’s (1996) Maximal Informativity Presupposition.
As usual, we will meet on Friday in Room 117, starting at 3pm.

Semantics Group, 11/9

In this week’s meeting, Jessica Coon will be giving a talk titled “Headless relative clauses and (possible?) free-choice free relatives in Ch’ol”. Jessica will present new work on Ch’ol headless relatives (collaborative with Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez, CIMSUR-UNAM), arguing that maximal and existential free relatives share an identical core structure, and receive different interpretations based on the environments in which they appear. Jessica will also present some puzzling data on a possible free-choice morpheme. As usual, the meeting will take place in Room 117 from 3pm to 4:30pm. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 11/2

This week the Semantics Group won’t meet at the usual time on Friday, because the department’s colloquium is taking place at the same time. However, we just started a reading group on Keenan’s book “Logical Properties of Natural Language: Eliminating the Universe”. We shall be meeting on Friday at 2pm (Room: TBC). We will discuss Chapter 3. All are welcome to join the reading group! For more details, email Brendan, Justin or Francesco.

Semantics Group, 10/19

The Semantics Group will exceptionally meet this Friday from 2:30pm until 4:00pm in room 117, in order for a midterm to take place at 4:00pm in the same room. In this week’s meeting, Francesco Gentile will present his ongoing research on modal adjectives and non-local modification. All are welcome to attend!

Semantics Group, 10/5

The Semantics Group will be meeting on Friday from 3pm until 4:30pm in room 117. In this week’s meeting, Junko Shimoyama will give a practice talk titled “On apparent embedding of positively biased negative polar questions in Japanese”. All are welcome to attend!

 

 

Semantics Research Group, 9/28

The Semantics Research Group will be meeting on Friday from 3pm until 4:30pm in room 117. In this week’s meeting, Justin Royer will give a practice talk in preparation for NELS. The title of the talk is “Domain restriction and noun classifiers in Chuj (Mayan).”  All welcome to attend!

 

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