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SURGE

Semantics Reading Group

at Rutgers Department of Linguistics

 

We provide a setting for graduate students to give practice talks in preparation for conferences and receive constructive feedback from faculty and peers. Beyond that, we regularly invite speakers to present current research and lead meaningful discussion.

 

Organizers:

Tatevik Yolyan (tatevik.yolyan@rutgers.edu)

Ziling Zhu (ziling.zhu@rutgers.edu)

We welcome any requests for practice talks or invited speaker nominations for Fall 2021.

Meeting time will be Thursdays 3-4:30PM. 

 

September 2nd, 2021: 3:00 – 4:00 pm

Speaker: Lydia (Rutgers)

Title: Limited Variable-force Modals and the Typology of Scal{ar,eless} Implicatures

Abstract: I show that exhaustification-based accounts of scalar implicatures, when combined with domain-restriction accounts of weak necessity modals, to directly and freely account for an otherwise puzzling and subtle pattern of variable-force modals in Kinande (Bantu J, DRC) without the need for additional stipulations within the semantic system. While prior accounts of variable-force modals have described languages with modals that vary between possibility and necessity, and rely either on domain restriction or exhaustification mechanisms to account for these patterns, I show that the Kinande modal anga shows limited variable force, between possibility and weak necessity. Furthermore, I demonstrate that the only way to account for the Kinande facts is with a combination of the domain restriction and exhaustification accounts, and that between these two (well-motivated) mechanisms we can fully account for the typology of variable-force modals.

 

September 2nd, 2021: 4:00 – 5:00 pm

Speaker: Ang (Rutgers)

Title: Internal comparison in (varieties of) distributivity

Abstract: (1) Every year more people get vaccinated.
In its most salient reading, (1) is true so long as a growing number of people get vaccinated each year. Since it doesn’t require any external standard of comparison, this is often called the “internal reading” of the comparative (Beck 2000); it  has long been known to be resistant to compositional treatments.
This talk will first show how to derive the targeted internal reading in (1). Building on the essential idea in Bumford (2015) — interpreting lexicalized universals like “every year” as incremental dynamic conjunctions — I propose to use pair-based dynamic semantics to formalize these distributive operators and the comparative, where they both have access to the second dimension of meaning. The second part of the talk extends the proposal to other kinds of internal readings (cf. Brasoveanu 2011), licensed by conjunctions and event-pluralization markers. I will show that the pair-based dynamic semantics can derive these various sorts of distributive interpretations and provide sensible explanations to why only certain kinds of comparatives can be licensed by distributive operators other than lexicalized universals.