Syntax and Semantics

Dawson to Western Washington

February 25, 2020

Congratulations to Virginia Dawson, who has just accepted a tenure-track position in semantics at Western Washington University! Ginny will be joining Western's newest department.

Laparle, Scott publish in NELS 49

January 23, 2020

The proceedings of NELS 49 are now in print, featuring a paper each by Schuyler Laparle and Tessa Scott:

  • Laparle, S. 2019. Locative inversion without inversion. In NELS 49: Proceedings of the Forty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, vol. 2, eds. Maggie Baird & Jonathan Pesetsky, 199-208.   [preprint]
  • Scott, T. 2019. Clitic placement in Mam (Mayan) requires a host requirement. In NELS 49: Proceedings of the Forty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, vol. 3, eds. Maggie Baird & Jonathan Pesetsky, 117-126. [preprint]

Congrats both!

Berkeley @ WCCFL 38

January 16, 2020

The program for the upcoming 38th annual meeting of the West Coast Conference in Formal Linguistics has just been released, promising the following presentations by current department members and alumni:

  • Tessa Scott: Two types of "composite" probes
  • Madeline Bossi: A morphological account of promiscuous agreement and *local > local in Kipsigis
  • Virginia Dawson: Disjunction is not Boolean: novel evidence from Tiwa
  • Nicholas Baier (PhD '18) and Gloria Mellesmoen: Spelling out object agreement in Central Salish
  • Maziar Toosarvandani (PhD '10): TBA (invited talk)

Congrats all!

Scott paper accepted at Linguistic Inquiry

January 14, 2020

Congrats to Tessa Scott, whose paper "Two types of Resumptive Pronouns in Swahili" has been accepted for publication in Linguistic Inquiry!

Deal in Göttingen

December 2, 2019

Next week, Amy Rose Deal will be traveling to Göttingen, Germany, to give an invited talk on the mass/count distinction at Number and Plurality: Cross-linguistic Variation in the Nominal Domain.

López wins MA thesis award

October 22, 2019

Congrats to first-year grad student Wendy López, who has just been named winner of the 2019 Wigberto Jiménez Moreno Prize for best Linguistics Master's Thesis by Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia! Wendy's award-winning thesis is entitled Mecanismos morfosintácticos de cambio de valencia y diátesis en el nuntajɨɨyi (Sierra Popoluca).

Cable colloquium

October 17, 2019

The 2019-2020 colloquium series continues this coming Monday, Oct 21, with a talk by Seth Cable (UMass). Same time as always, same place as always: 3:10-5 p.m., 370 Dwinelle Hall. The talk is entitled Two Paths to Habituality: Imperfective Mode vs. Habitual Mode in Tlingit (and Simple Present in English), and the abstract is as follows:

Despite its morpho-syntactic simplicity, the English sentence in (1) expresses an especially complex and still deeply puzzling meaning, one having to do with the subject’s habits, propensities, dispositions, duties, etc.

(1) My father eats salmon.

Interestingly, in the Tlingit language (Na-Dene; Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon), there seem to be two means for expressing the general meaning of (1). The first is to use a verb in the so-called ‘Imperfective Mode’ (2a); the second is to use a verb in the so-called ‘Habitual Mode’ (2b).

(2) a. Ax̱            éeshch        tʼá                   ax̱á.
          1sgPOSS father.ERG king.salmon
My father eats king salmon (MD)

b. Ax̱            éesh    x̱áat      ux̱áaych.
    1sgPOSS father salmon
My father eats salmon. (SE)

This of course raises the following questions: (i) What exactly is the morpho-syntactic and semantic difference (if any) between the two Tlingit verbal forms in (2)? (ii) How do either of these verbal forms relate syntactically or semantically to the English simple present verb in (1)? In this talk, I will principally address the first of these questions. We will see that there are indeed some important semantic and (morpho-)syntactic differences between ‘imperfective habituals’ in Tlingit (2a) and ‘habitual-marked habituals’ (2b). In particular, I will argue that imperfective habituals have the general structure in (3a), where the ‘habituality’ in the semantics is contributed directly by the imperfective aspect (Deo 2009, Arregui et al. 2014). On the other hand, habitual-marked habituals have the structure in (3b). Under this proposal, the Habitual Mode morphology is the realization T(ense), when the T-head is bound by a temporal quantifier (e.g. tlákw ‘always’, wáa ng̱aneen sá ‘sometimes’). Furthermore, it is this temporal quantifier – which in some sentences may be implicit/covert (2b) – which contributes the understood ‘habituality’, and not the Habitual Mode morphology itself.

(3) a. Syntax of (2a): [TP T [AspP IMPRVGEN [VP my father eat salmon ] … ]

b. Syntax of (2b): [TP TempQuant [TP T [AspP ASP [VP my father eat salmon ] … ]

Finally, I will begin to outline a defense of the claim that English sentences with simple (present) verbs, like (1), are syntactically ambiguous, and can in principle receive either of the structural analyses in (3).

WSCLA 23 proceedings published

September 22, 2019

The Proceedings of WSCLA 23 (Workshop on Structure and Constituency in the Languages of the Americas) have recently been published, containing the following papers by department members and recent alumni:

Congrats all!