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MIT Linguistics: Department of Linguistics & Philosophy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Syntax-Semantics Reading Group
Fall 2010

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 alternate between Wednesdays 1:30-3PM, and are held in room 32-D831.

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 Tue Trinh or Igor Yanovich. An incomplete list of previous meetings: 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!

November 10

Guillaume Pierre Yves Thomas
Additive “more” and “another”

Both “more” and “(an)other” can be used to express additivity in DPs [(1) and (2)] or in adverbial phrases [(3) and (4)]:

(1) Today in Detroit I witnessed 2 more accidents.
(2) Today in Detroit I witnessed another 2 accidents.
(3) You’ve got 2 more hours to enter today’s final drawing for a trip to LA for the Emmys Red Carpet.
(4) You’ve got another 2 hours to enter today’s final drawing for a trip to LA for the Emmys Red Carpet.

However, the distributions of additive “more” and “(an)other” are different with stative predicates. Whereas additive “more” cannot be used in the degree argument of a gradable stative predicate [c.f. (5) and (6)], “(an)other” is attested in this context [c.f. (7)]:

(5) *The washi and bamboo kite is six inches in diameter with an extended spar three more inches long.
(6) The washi and bamboo kite is six inches in diameter with an extended spar another three inches longer. [comparative reading only]
(7) The washi and bamboo kite is six inches in diameter with an extended spar another three inches long.
In this talk, I will consider possible analyses of additive “more” and “(an)other”. I will use the data in (5)/(7) to argue that additive “more” is a pluractional operator that quantifies over eventualities, while “another” does not relate to eventualities.

November 10

Guillaume Pierre Yves Thomas
Additive “more” and “another”, PART 2

November 24:

Luka Crnic
On factive NPI licensers

In LFRG this week, we will look at some factive NPI licensers. The recommended reading is Kai von Fintel’s paper on Strawson-entailment, doi:10.1093/jos/16.2.97. The session will facilitate a leisurely transition to Thanksgiving.

December 1:

Peter Graff, Jeffrey Lim and Sophie Monahan (MIT)
The Determiner Complexity Hierarchy (practice talk for LSA)

We present experimental evidence for a hierarchy of complexity for possible denotations of determiners that goes beyond the traditional constraint of conservativity (Keenan and Stavi 1986). Conservative determiners obey the bi-conditional D(A,B) iff D(A, A∩B) where A is the restrictor and B is the nuclear scope and thus only predicate over individuals in set A. Results from three online artificial determiner learning studies (N=454) are consistent with a hierarchy of learnability for determiners depending on the set they predicate over where (A∩B)>(A-B)>(B-A)>(A∪B)c. These results support a learnability-based account of the patterning of determiner typology and exceptions to Conservativity.

December 8:

Luka Crnic, MIT
More on “even” and different kinds of intensional verbs