This paper investigates the interaction between quantifiers and epistemic modals, focusing on the contrast between every and any. It builds on observations made in von Fintel & Iatridou 2003, who noted that quantifiers seem unable to take wide scope across an epistemic modal. The proposal at the heart of the paper is that modes of epistemic access to domains of quantification play a role in accounting for apparent restrictions on scope. The paper takes the characterization of conceptual covers in Aloni 2001 as a starting point to argue that in the context of epistemic modals, constraints on epistemic access to the domain of quantification can give rise to scope illusions.
We’re delighted to share the news that Ekaterina Vostrikova (PhD, 2019) will be joining the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in July as a DAAD scholar, and will then in September begin a three-year position there as a post-doctoral researcher. Katia’s post-doc position is funded by a DFG project grant titled ‘A Crosslinguistic Investigation Into Phrasal and Clausal Exceptive-Additive Constructions’, and will be supervised by Clemens Steiner-Mayr.
UMass linguists past and present will participate (see details below), with Seth Cablegiving one of the invited plenary talks: Two Paths to Habituality: The Semantics of ‘Habitual Mode’ vs. ‘Imperfective Mode’ in Tlingit
In addition to SALT, this year will also haveSALT(ED):a workshop on inclusive teaching in semantics organized by the SALT Equity and Diversity committee. Lisa Green will be one of the workshop panelists.
The Pop-Up Mentoring Program sponsored by the LSA’s Committee on Gender Equity in Linguistics will hold mentoring sessions at SALT.
UMass linguists (working with colleagues) at SALT 31:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this symposium will be held remotely, and can be viewed publicly over Zoom. It will take place on Monday, April 19th, from 9:45AM to 3PM (EST), and will feature presentations by:
Barbara Partee (UMass Amherst)
Gennaro Chierchia (Harvard University)
Pauline Jacobson (Brown University)
Florian Schwarz (University of Pennsylvania)
Seth Cable (UMass Amherst)
Christopher Potts (Stanford University)
The website for the symposium, which includes the full program (with abstracts) as well as the Zoom link for the remote presentations, can be found at the link below:
Abstract: Insubordinated clauses (see Evans 2007) across languages are often associated with a wide range of meanings not present in their subordinated counterparts. A given insubordinated clause is often said to be able to convey surprise, commands, reports etc., depending on the context of utterance. The disparity between the associated meanings has often led to proposals arguing that the original complementizer has acquired different meanings in insubordinated contexts and the speaker is then facing an ambiguity that is resolved in the context of utterance.
In this talk I will investigate a case of insubordination in Spanish that has been discussed in the literature in the terms described above. Instead of defending an ambiguity analysis, I will argue that a unified analysis is possible once we look beyond the sentence level and revisit the data from this perspective. At the theoretical level, the claim is that we can explain how potentially unrelated meanings are brought about by considering that utterances are proposals to update the context and taking into account the relation between utterances and the proposed update.
Deniz Özyıldız will defend his dissertation at 10am EST, Thursday, December 3. The title of Deniz’s dissertation is “Attitude Events”. The advisors are Vincent Homer and Rajesh Bhatt, and the committee includes Maria Biezma, Seth Cable and Kristine Yu. A short abstract follows.
In this talk, we place the verb “think” and its complement clauses under the microscope and see that “think” with a declarative may describe a state, in (1), and that “think” with a question must describe an event, seen by comparing (2) and (3). The state is a belief, and the event, here, a deliberation.
(1) Anna thinks that she should invite Brian. (2) #Anna thinks whether she should invite Brian. (3) Anna is thinking whether she should invite Brian.
Aspectual properties of attitude reports, then, interact with properties that attitude verbs have in virtue of their ability to embed clauses, creating non-trivial differences in meaning as well as apparent restrictions in the distribution of embedded questions. To account for such interactions, we must structure attitude eventualities with structures provided by embedded clause denotations, and so, we work towards a system in which it is possible to do so.
November 18, 2020, (8am EST, 4pm in Moscow) Barbara gives a Zoom talk “in Moscow” called “Language and Logic: Ideas and Controversies in the History of Formal Semantics”, as part of “Logical Perspectives Open Lectures” organized by Lev Beklemishev, Steklov Mathematical Institute, Moscow, for Nov 17-18. Open to all; Registration required at http://lp2020.mi-ras.ru/open_lectures/. I’d be delighted to have linguists there too to join in the discussion after the talk. The other two lectures in the series are on Nov 17 – one by Anil Nerode at 4pm Moscow and one by Yuri Gurevich at 6pm Moscow. I think the talks are all intended for students and younger scholars, so I expect the other two to be interesting and accessible as well.
When we last heard from Alex Göbel, he had just defended his dissertation. He has since been let into Canada to start his postdoc position at McGill with Michael Wagner. He writes from his quarantine in Montreal:
I’ll be at McGill on a Feodor Lynen Fellowship, sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation. The research project is aimed at investigating the interaction between Focus-particles – or Focus more generally – and intonation, specifically the role of pitch accents for the interpretation of ambiguous Focus-particles like ‘at least’. The idea is that ‘at least’ can be epistemic or concessive, and we want to see whether there’s a correlation between the interpretation and the type of pitch accent the Focused constituent receives. We’ll be running both production and comprehension experiments that will hopefully lead to lots of interesting implications for linguistic and psycholinguistic theory.
We are pleased to announce that the first meeting of Sensus, a workshop on the formal semantics and pragmatics of Romance languages, will take place virtually at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, on September 26-27 2020.
Our intention with this workshop is to bring together scholars in the growing community dedicated to the study of the construction of meaning within Romance languages. We hope this will become a regular venue for researchers with common interests in Romance semantics and pragmatics.