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MIT Linguistics: Department of Linguistics & Philosophy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Syntax-Semantics Reading Group
Fall 2013

The primary aim of LFRG is to give you an opportunity to have informal discussions of your own and other people's ideas without having to worry about saying something wrong. Thus, practice talks and presentations of works in progress (or in regress) or papers that you find interesting are especially welcome.

The range of possible topics include semantics, syntax, their interface, and whatnot having a connection to either syntax or semantics. The idea is that a lot of research does not fit into the straight jacket of a narrow area - though it is by no means required to have any interdisciplinary interests to attend LFRG.

Meetings this semester are:

Fridays from 1pm in 32-D831

Please see schedule for more details.

There are basically four main kinds of meetings: 1) presentations of one's own work, including in progress and in regress; 2) a genuine reading group meeting: everyone reads, or at least browses, some interesting paper, and we discuss it; 3) a tutorial-like meeting where the persons in charge tell everyone something about not so widely known things - like cool experimental techniques, math tools, new empirical results, etc., and then optionally people say what they think about that; and 4) brainstorming sessions: the persons in charge provide a topic and the necessary background, and the point is to generate some ideas about what one can do about the topic.

Meetings and changes in the schedule are announced here and by email to interested people. If you want to receive the email announcements, want to be in charge of a meeting, or have any other comments about the Syntax-Semantics Reading Group, email Edwin Howard or Chris O'Brien. An incomplete list of previous meetings: Fall 2012 Spring 2012 Fall 2011 Spring 2011 Fall 2010 Spring 2010 Fall 2009, Spring 2009, Fall 2008, Spring 2008, Fall 2007, Spring 2007, Fall 2006.

Claiming an LFRG slot is not scary at all - so don't hesitate to do that!

October 4:

Chris O’Brien
Experimental evidence for embedded scalar implicatures (Chemla & Spector 2011)

“Scalar implicatures are traditionally viewed as pragmatic inferences which result from a reasoning about speakers’ communicative intentions (Grice 1989). This view has been challenged in recent years by theories which propose that scalar implicatures are a grammatical phenomenon. Such theories claim that scalar implicatures can be computed in embedded positions and enter into the recursive computation of meaning—something that is not expected under the traditional, pragmatic view. Recently, Geurts and Pouscoulous (2009) presented an experimental study in which embedded scalar implicatures were not detected. Using a novel version of the truth value judgment tasks, we provide evidence that subjects sometimes compute embedded scalar implicatures.”

November 1:

Aron Hirsch