Category Archives: Semantics

UMass Linguists at Sinn und Bedeutung

The UMass semanticists took to the virtual Sinn und Bedeutung conference last week from September 3rd to September 9th! The Virtual SuB 25 was co-hosted by the University College London and the Queen Mary University of London.

Among the invited speakers was our very own Ana Arregui, who gave an invited keynote presentation entitled “The case of every in the scope of might. In addition, Ana was given a video introduction by Professor Emeritus Angelika Kratzer.

There was a special session on the History of Formal Semantics where Professors Emerita Barbara Partee and Angelika Kratzer were interviewed to discuss the history of formal semantics. Barbara did an interview on the topic with Jonathan Pelletier, and Angelika did an interview on the topic with Daniel Rothschild (recordings linked). During this session UMass Alumni / Faculty Ana Arregui, Jeremy Pasquereau, Satoshi Tomioka, and Gennaro Chierchia also helped to facilitate ‘hangout’ discussions on topics including ‘Fieldwork and formal semantics’, ‘Topics, projects, and collaborations’, ‘Where do we stand?’, and ‘Building bridges to society.’

Jeremy Pasquereau (Ph.D. UMass, 2017) gave an invited presentation in the Special Session Semantics of understudied languages and semantic fieldwork entitled ‘Semantic elicitation in the field: From finding consultants to interpreting results‘. Jeremy was given a video introduction by Rajesh Bhatt and Vincent Homer. There was also a roundtable discussion for this special session led by Seth Cable, Suzi Lima, Lisa Matthewson and Reginald Duah.

In addition, UMass students and alumni also gave a number of presentations at the main session and the special sessions, including:

Modalized normality in pictorial narratives‘ by Dorit Abush and Mats Rooth

A unique operator for verbal pluractionality and numeral distributivity‘, Jeremy Pasquereau

Licensing by modification: Existential reading of bare plurals‘, Zahra Mirrazi

Two types of habituals: Kiowa ingredients of a modular imperfective‘, Andrew McKenzie

UMass linguists at ELM

The first ever Experiments in Linguistic Meaning conference took place virtually from 9/16-9/18. Hosted at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-organized by Florian Schwarz and Anna Papafragou, ELM is a ‘conference … dedicated to the experimental study of linguistic meaning broadly construed, with a focus on theoretical issues in semantics and pragmatics, their interplay with other components of the grammar, their relation to language processing and acquisition, as well as their connections to human cognition and computation.’ If you’d like to be kept in the loop about this conference and the growing community around it, please consider joining their mailing list.

The full schedule can be found here.

UMass students and alumni were well represented among the presenters, including:

Suzi Lima (Ph.D. 2014, currently University of Toronto) gave an invited keynote presentation entitled ‘Defining atoms: a view from Brazilian languages

Maribel Romero (Ph.D., 1998, current University of Konstanz) gave an invited keynote presentation entitled ‘OR NOT alternative questions, focus and discourse structure


Alexander Gobel, ‘The Common Ground is not enough: Why Focus-sensitivity matters for Presupposition triggers

Nadine Bade and Florian Schwarz, ‘New data on the nature of competition between indefinites and definites

Anissa Neal and Brian Dillon, ‘Definitely islands?

Carolyn Anderson, ‘Coming in, or going out? Measuring the effect of discourse factors on perspective prominence

UMass Linguists at Sinn und Bedeutung (SuB) 2020!

This year’s remote meeting of Sinn und Bedeutung features presentations by a wide variety of current and former students and faculty from UMass Amherst.

During the main session of the conference, Ana Arregui will be giving one of the three invited talks, titled “The case of ‘every’ in the scope of ‘might’.”

The main session will also feature talks by the following UMass-affiliated persons:

Due to the conference being held remotely, these talks will not take place at a particular time, but instead will be recorded and publicly posted. There will, however, be synchronous Q&A sessions for these talks. For more information on how to participate in this year’s remote version of SuB, please go to the link below:

In addition to the main session above, there will also be two other special sessions, one on Gesture and Natural Language Semantics, and another on Semantic Fieldwork and Fieldwork Methodology. UMass linguists are particularly well represented in the second session.

This special session will also include a roundtable discussion of methodology in linguistic fieldwork, organized by our own Jeremy Pasquereau. The participants will include the following UMass-affiliated individuals:

  • Jeremy Pasquereau
  • Seth Cable
  • Suzi Lima
  • Lisa Matthewson

For more information on how to participate in the special session on Semantic Fieldwork, please see the link below:

Finally, the conference will feature as a special live event a series of interviews relating to the History of Formal Semantics. These interviews will (of course) include ones with our own illustrious emeritae faculty, Barbara Partee and Angelika Kratzer. Angelika will be interviewed by Daniel Rothschild, while Barbara will be interviewed by Jeff Pelletier.

It’s definitely an incredible program this year! Again, for more information on how to view these talks and events, please see the links above!

Partee plenary talk Friday July 3, 8pm (now with link)

Update: use this link to register for the talk:

On Friday July 3, 2020 at 8pm EDT (9am in Japan), Barbara Partee will give a Zoom plenary talk “in Japan” in an online colloquium series where (apart from Barbara) young scholars from the US and Europe are invited to tell about their research. The colloquium series, Keio X ICU LINC, is organized by Seunghun Lee at International Christian University and our own UMass PhD Shigeto Kawahara at Keio University. Barbara’s talk will be “The Intertwining Influences of Linguistics, Logic, and Philosophy in the History of Formal Semantics”.

Kimberly Johnson to Receive NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant


We’re delighted to share the news that Kimberly Johnson’s application for an NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant will be officially recommended for funding by the NSF Linguistics Program.

Kimberly’s project will be focused on the documentation and analysis of the complex tense system of Mvskoke (Creek), investigating three phenomena central to current debates surrounding cross-linguistic variation in tense semantics: (i) graded tense, (ii) tense & evidentiality, and (iii) nominal tense. In addition to advancing our theoretical understanding of these three interlocking phenomena, Kimberly’s project will contribute significantly to the documentation of this highly endangered language, producing in particular a rich corpus of dialogs between Mvskoke elders and between elders and learners.

Congratulations, Kimberly!

Partee keynote, Wednesday May 13 at 6pm

Barbara Partee will be giving a streamed public lecture as part of the project described below on Wednesday, May 13, at 7pm Brazilian time, 6pm EDT. The topic is “Formal semantics and pragmatics: Origins, issues, impact.” The link to the live transmission is (On the YouTube site that the link takes you to, you can comment and ask questions, and see other people’s comments and questions. The moderators will pick a selection of questions to ask in the discussion period.)
The Brazilian Linguistic Association (, in a joint project with the Permanent International Committee of Linguists (, the Asociación de Lingüística y Filología de América Latina (, the Sociedad Argentina de Estudios Lingüísticos ( and the Linguistic Society of America ( is organizing a virtual event: Abralin ao Vivo – Linguists Online. The event is designed to give students and researchers free access to state-of-the-art discussions on the most diverse topics related to the study of human language during this difficult quarantine period.

For more information about Abralin ao Vivo – Linguists Online, please visit: For updates on the event’s programme, follow Abralin at All the lectures are also available on Abralin’s YouTube channel: