Syntax and Semantics

Structure, Architecture, and Blocking

Jorge Hankamer
Line Mikkelsen

Embick and Marantz (2008) present an analysis of the Danish Definiteness alternation involving a postsyntactic rule of Local Dislocation (an operation that is sensitive to linear adjacency but not hierarchical structure). Examination of a fuller range of data reveals that the alternation cannot be determined strictly in terms of adjacency, but rather depends on the structural relation (specifically, sisterhood) between the D and the N.

Bare nouns, numbers, and definiteness in Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec

Amy Rose Deal
Julia Nee

How is definiteness expressed in number-marking languages lacking a definite article? May bare nouns in such languages simply be read as definites or indefinites, without constraint? Dayal (2004) demonstrates that the interpretation of bare nouns with respect to definiteness is significantly constrained in Hindi and Russian. In these languages, singular and plural bare nouns present different possibilities for indefinite interpretation, in a way that receives a natural explanation within a neo-Carlsonian theory of noun meaning (Chierchia, 1998).

On the lexical semantics of property concept nouns in Basaá

Peter Jenks
Andrew Koontz-Garboden
Emmanuel-Moselly Makasso

This paper considers the link between lexical category and lexical semantics, examining variation in the category of property concept (PC) words (Dixon, 1982; Thompson, 1989) — words introducing the descriptive content in translational equivalents of sentences whose main predicate is an adjective in languages with large open classes of them. Francez and Koontz-Garboden (2015) conjecture that nominal PC words might only have mass-type denotation (conceived in the spirit of Link 1983), as diagnosed by possession in predication (e.g., Kim has beauty/#Kim is beauty).

Linguistics in action

October 11, 2018

Calques has received some great photos from last weekend's NELS/AMP double-header!

Berkeley linguists at NELS

At NELS: Schuyler Laparle, Emily Clem, Nico Baier (PhD '18), Tessa Scott

Tessa Scott

Tessa Scott with her NELS poster

Schuyler Laparle

Schuyler Laparle with her NELS poster

Nik Rolle

Nicholas Rolle (PhD '18) presenting his poster (joint work with Larry Hyman)

AMP 2018

Berkeley phonologists at AMP:  Gabriela Caballero (PhD '08), Alan Yu (PhD '03), Andrew Shibata (BA '17), Hannah Sande (PhD '17), Nicholas Rolle (PhD '18), Jesse Zymet

Alrenga visits

October 11, 2018

Welcome to Pete Alrenga, who has just joined us as a visitor! Pete sends the following words about himself: 

Hi!  I'll be visiting from UMass Amherst until mid-November, and I'll be working with Line Mikkelsen while I'm here.  Line and I are developing a project around a long-standing mutual interest of ours, namely the structure and interpretation of identity, similative, and equative constructions.  In English, these notions are canonically expressed by same, different, like, such, so, etc., and our own previous work has explored the intriguing double lives that these items lead as comparative operators and anaphoric devices.  One of the major goals of our project is to extend our understanding of such items/constructions to lesser-studied languages, and to assess the extent to which this range of uses is attested cross-linguistically.

Most of my past work has explored issues in the semantics and pragmatics of scalarity:  degree comparatives, numerals and their modifiers, and more recently, scalar implicatures and Grice's nondetachability doctrine.  I'm looking forward to my stay here at UC Berkeley...stop by some time and say hello!

Cheng, Clem recognized by the LSA

October 4, 2018

Fifth-year grad students Andrew Cheng and Emily Clem were each recognized by the LSA this week in connection with the upcoming annual meeting in New York City.  Andrew was named a finalist for the Five-minute Linguist event, which features short, informative, engaging, and accessible talks about linguistics research on a variety of topics. Andrew's presentation is entitled Style-shifting, Bilingualism, and the Koreatown Accent. Emily has been named as the third place winner of this year's Student Abstract Award, recognizing "the three best abstracts submitted by a student for a paper or poster presentation at Annual Meeting". Emily's prize-winning abstract is entitled The cyclic nature of Agree: Maximal projections as probes. 

Congrats, Andrew and Emily!