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April 2021

Danny Fox Colloquium

April 16, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Online; Please contact the organizers for a link

Trivalent Strong Exhaustivity – towards a uniform semantics for question embedding Danny Fox, MIT Abstract In this talk I will go over well-known arguments that there are three different interpretive schemas associated with question embedding (weak-exhaustivity, strong-exhaustivity and intermediate-exhaustivity), where each embedding predicate selects for the appropriate schema. Despite these arguments I will propose a uniform semantics based on the assumption that the answer to a question is a trivalent proposition (the denotation of a cleft). The answer will be “strongly exhaustive” but presuppositional, hence Trivalent Strong…

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October 2021

Colloquium: Lisa S. Pearl

October 15, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

How children are and aren’t like adults when interpreting pronouns: A computational cognitive modeling investigation Lisa S. Pearl   Abstract: Interpreting pronouns in context is a complex linguistic task, especially when cues to a pronoun’s intended interpretation conflict. Children have to learn to interpret pronouns like adults do, and computational cognitive modeling can help identify what potentially needs to change for them to do so. Here, I present a case study of pronoun interpretation in Mexican Spanish, using computational cognitive…

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November 2021

Colloquium: Claire Halpert

November 19, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Revisiting nominal licensing in Zulu Claire Halpert   Abstract:  The questions of whether and how nominals are syntactically licensed in Bantu languages have been a matter of recent active debate (e.g. Diercks 2012; Halpert 2015, 2019; van der Wal 2015; Sheehan and van der Wal 2018; Carstens and Mletshe 2016; Pietraszko 2020). While a number of languages and phenomena throughout the Bantu family seem to lack evidence of the typical 'signature' of case-licensing (Diercks 2012), others show more straightforward case…

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December 2021

Colloquium: Kristine M. Yu

December 3, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Building prosodic trees Kristine M. Yu Abstract: Computational perspectives from string grammars have richly informed our understanding of phonological patterns in natural language in the past decade. However, a prevailing theoretical assumption of phonologists since the 1980s has been that phonological patterns and processes are computed on trees built with prosodic constituents such as syllables, feet, and prosodic words. Moreover, multiple dependencies in prosodic structures, such as multiple association of a tone to a higher-level prosodic node in addition to…

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March 2022

Colloquium: Asia Pietraszko

March 25, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Syntactic structure building: lessons from periphrasis Asia Pietraszko   Abstract:  Traditional approaches to verbal periphrasis (compound tenses) treat the auxiliary verbs be and have as lexical items that enter syntactic derivation like any other lexical item, i.e. via the operation Merge. An alternative view that has received much attention in recent years is that auxiliary verbs are not base-generated but rather Inserted in a previously built structure (i.a. Bach 1967; Embick 2000; Arregi 2000; Cowper 2010; Bjorkman 2011; Arregi and…

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April 2022

Colloquium: Amir Anvari

April 1, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

A theory of oddness Amir Anvari   Abstract:  We will rehearse a host of puzzles that have been uncovered in the literature on oddness pertaining particularly, but not exclusively, to disjunction (Singh 2008, Katzir & Singh 2014, Mayr & Romoli 2016, Mandelkern & Romoli 2018, Marty & Romoli 2021 and references therein). The ambition is to provide a unified analysis for all these cases, as well as a few novel generalizations. We begin with the classical insight, as formulated by…

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Colloquium: Yohei Oseki

April 29, 2022 @ 3:00 pm

Building machines that process natural language like human Yohei Oseki   Abstract: Despite the close alliance in the 1980s, theoretical linguistics (a branch of cognitive science) and natural language processing (a branch of artificial intelligence) have traditionally been divorced, especially since the recent advent of deep learning. Theoretical linguistics proposed computational theories to represent linguistic competence through symbolic formal grammars, whereas natural language processing developed algorithmic models to approximate linguistic performance through artificial neural networks without symbolic structures. However, given…

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September 2022

Colloquium: Luke Adamson

September 30, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Speaker: Luke Adamson (Rutgers)   Title: A noun's gender is locally determined: Evidence from gender and possession   Abstract:  What determines a noun’s grammatical gender? Often this question is posed in terms of how gender is ‘assigned’, with one answer being that a noun’s gender can depend on semantic criteria (e.g. animacy, sociocultural gender), nominalizing morphology, arbitrary lexical requirements, and possibly phonological criteria (Corbett 1991, Kramer 2020, a.o.). However, the conceptualization of gender features as having a syntactic locus, such as on…

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November 2022

Colloquium: Aaron White

November 11, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
18 Seminary Place, Room 108

Speaker: Aaron White (University of Rochester) Title: Semantic Category Induction   Abstract:  Our ability to use language to convey arbitrarily complex information about the world's possible past, present, and future configurations is undergirded by systematic relationships between linguistic expressions and conceptual categories. Understanding these relationships is not only a core part of understanding what it means to know and be able to use a language; it potentially provides a window onto the nature of higher cognition in humans more generally.…

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December 2022

Colloquium: Laura McPherson

December 16, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
18 Seminary Place, Room 108

Speaker: Prof. Laura McPherson (Dartmouth College) Title: Spoken rhythms and drummed speech: Bidirectional iconicity at the crossroads of language and music Abstract: Language and music share many of the same raw ingredients, including pitch, rhythm, prosodic grouping, and timbre. This talk focuses on an underexplored aspect of the language-music connection: the iconic representation of one modality using the other, through onomatopoeia (music encoded as speech) and musical surrogate languages (speech encoded as music). In particular, I focus on drums to…

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