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EALing 2012 - Program

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...Luigi Rizzi's Blaise Pascal lectures

Vincent Homer

Title: Why Modals Vary
Description: This course is an investigation of the syntax and semantics of modal verbs (e.g. can, may, must…), mainly (but not exclusively) in English. What is perhaps most striking prima facie about modals is their variety: not only is there a fairly large number of them, but they come in a number of so-called ‘flavors’, i.e. accessibility relations (deontic, ability, metaphysical, epistemic… this list is not exhaustive): the main goal of the course is to better understand the nature of the differences among modals, and to determine what we can learn about modality itself by paying close attention to those differences. There is a trend in current research which seeks to map the differences in accessibility relations onto differences in structural position; some radical versions of this approach (e.g. the cartographic trend) hold that each modal is assigned a dedicated position in the clause at first merge; variation among modals thus gets solidified into some essential heterogeneity. For example, the scope of modals with respect to clausemate negation is often invoked in support of postulating dedicated positions (witness the contrast between deontic can (1a) and deontic must (1b)):

(1) a. You cannot smoke here. NOT ≫ CAN
b. You must not smoke here. MUST ≫ NOT
c. He may not be home. MAY ≫ NOT (epistemic)
d. He may not smoke. NOT ≫ MAY (deontic)

Such a line of reasoning leads one to assume that the English system features many homophonous modals, e.g. epistemic may and deontic may (may indeed behaves differently w.r.t. negation depending on whether it is interpreted epistemically (1c) or deontically (1d)). We will critically examine the arguments that are made to support the view that differences among modals run deeper than differences in accessibility relations (i.e. modals are essentially heterogeneous). Some of them are well-worn arguments, such as the ones based on negation; we will also formulate and inspect novel ones: those look at the properties (in particular the temporal and aspectual properties) of the complements of modals.

Prerequisites: Introductory Syntax and Semantics.

Butler, Jonny (2003). A Minimalist Treatment of Modality, Lingua 113: 967–996.
Cinque, Guglielmo (1999). Adverbs and Functional Heads, Oxford University Press.
Hacquard, Valentine (2010). On the Event Relativity of Modal Auxiliaries, Natural Language Semantics, 18:79–114.
Kratzer, Angelika (1991). Modality, in Semantik/Semantics: An International Handbook of Contemporary Research, ed. by von Stechow, A. and Wunderlich, D., 639–650, De Gruyter, Berlin.
Portner, Paul (2009). Modality, Oxford University Press.

Larry Hyman

Title: Word-Prosodic Typology: Universals vs. Diversity
Description: In this course we will be concerned with phonological universals and near-universals, as reflected in the word-prosodic systems of the world’s languages. We will begin with the following general questions: (i) What does it mean to be a phonological universal? (ii) Why are so many properties almost universal? (iii) What can we say about universal tendencies vs. “outliers”? Our focus will be on prosody at the word level: accentual phenomena and syllabification. We will raise the question of whether all languages have “word accent” (cf. Goedemans & van der Hulst 2009, van der Hulst 2011 vs. Hyman 2009), and if so, what counts as “accentual”. Similarly, we will ask if all languages organize their consonants and vowels into syllable constituents, as generally assumed, or whether Gokana is (still) a potential counterexample (Hyman 2011). Given that languages do differ, we will consider typological issues throughout the course, and especially how (not) to do phonological typology (Hyman 2009 vs. Beckman & Venditti 2010, 2011). I will present a proposal to apply Corbett’s (2007) “canonical approach” to word-prosodic typology. It is my intention to lecture during the first part of each class meeting and then spend the remaining time discussing assigned data analysis problems which will be posted in advance. These will be designed to highlight the problem of interpretation: Since linguists do not agree on the above issues, we shall also want to consider why this should be particularly problematic in the study of word-prosodic typology.

Prerequisites: An introduction to phonology course or equivalent

References: (NB: additional references will be cited and made available)

Beckman, Mary E. & Jennifer J. Venditti. 2010. Tone and Intonation. In William J. Hardcastle & John Laver (eds), The handbook of phonetic sciences, 603-652. Blackwell.
Beckman, Mary E. & Jennifer J. Venditti. 2010. Intonation. In John Goldsmith, Jason Riggle & Alan C.L. Yu (eds), The handbook of phonological theory, 485-532. Blackwell.
Corbett, Greville G. 2007. Canonical typology, suppletion, and possible words. Language 83.8-42.
Goedemans, Rob and Harry van der Hulst. 2009. Stress Typ: A Database for Word Accentual Patterns in the World's Languages. In Martin Everaert, Simon Musgrave and Alexis Dimitriadis (eds.), The use of databases in cross-linguistics research, 235-282. New York/Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Hualde, José I. 2006. Remarks on word-prosodic typology. Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society.
Hulst, Harry van der. 2011. Pitch accent systems. In Marc van Oostendorp, Colin J. Ewen, Elizabeth Hume, and Keren Rice (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Phonology, vol. II, #45. Malden, MA & Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Hyman, Larry M. 2009. How (not) to do phonological typology: the case of pitch-accent. Language Sciences 31.213-238.
Hyman, Larry M. 2011. Does Gokana really have no syllables? Or: What’s so great about being universal? Phonology 25.55-85.
Hyman, Larry M. In press. In defense of prosodic typology: A response to Beckman & Venditti. Linguistic Typology 16.3.

Link: Readings and Handouts

Hilda Koopman

Title: The SSWL database project.
Description: The goal of this presentation is to introduce and familiarize the audience with the SSWL (Syntactic Structures of the World’s languages) database project (http://sswl.railsplayground.net/ and http://www.terraling.com/).
We first discuss (i) the need to build a database of the syntactic structures of the world’s languages in support of linguistic research, (ii) the general goals of such a database and its design specifications, which will lead to (iii) a demonstration of the features of the current prototype, the SSWL database, and finally (iv) a discussion of future developments, with the ultimate success of the project depending on the direct participation of the linguistic community.

The SSWL prototype is open to all: formal, theoretical linguists, typologists, fieldworkers, scientists, and members of the general public curious about (the structure of) language. It has four features which make it powerful and unique.
First, its basic design allows an unlimited number of syntactic properties to be refined or added without the need for reprogramming, each exemplified by accessible, searchable primary data.
Second, the data are generated through property definitions (questionnaires with elicitation contexts), which code the relevant surface phenomena on which linguists base their theories.
Third, SSWL is language expert oriented: the data in the database on a particular language comes directly from language experts (preferably native speaker linguists or linguists with a deep knowledge of the language), thus directly involving as large a pool of potential expert contributors.
Fourth, SSWL has powerful and sophisticated search functions and visualization tools. The query interface allows millions of different kinds of searches in a linguist-friendly format, so as to allow answers to many different kinds of questions, from simple queries about the properties of individual languages, to browsing individual properties or languages, to exploring the connections among the grammatical systems of the languages in the database, to mapping and visualizing results, to verifying specific theoretical predictions, and exploring the limits of grammatical systems, etc.

The ultimate goal is to document the syntactic (and morpho-syntactic) properties of as many languages as possible, at a level of precision and detail not previously undertaken, without regard to genetic affiliation or region, including endangered languages (anywhere, including the highly endangered regional varieties in Europe), extinct languages (in so far the records allow), creoles, sign languages, etc, and to create a tool for the community and by the community.

Prerequisites: None

Alban Lemasson

Title: Rudiments of language in nonhuman primates?
Description: There are two ways to investigate the language competence of nonhuman primates. One way is to teach language to animals housed in captive facilities with frequent affiliative interactions with humans. Hence, authors have shown that apes possess the cognitive abilities to understand English and to use a symbolic (non-oral) form of language. The other way is to conduct ethological observations and experiments in order to understand how nonhuman primates spontaneously communicate within their social group, and whether their natural communicative behaviours parallel human language properties. Our research falls into this latter approach. We study vocal communication in African guenons both in captivity (Station Biologique de Paimpont, France) and in the wild (Taï National Parc, Côte d’Ivoire). This lecture will present several lines of research related to primitive forms of semantic, affixation, syntax, conversation and vocal accommodation, which we believe to have found in these forest-dwelling monkeys.
Domain: Ethology, Comparative psychology, Evolutionary biology
Prerequisites: None

Ouattara, K., Lemasson, A. & Zuberbühler, K. (2009). Campbell’s monkeys use affixation to alter call meaning. PloS ONE, 4(11), e7808.
Ouattara, K., Lemasson, A., Zuberbühler, K. (2009). Campbell’s monkeys concatenate vocalizations into context-specific call sequences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 51, 22026-22031.
Lemasson, A., Gandon, E., Hausberger, M. (2010). Attention to elders’ voice in nonhuman primates. Biology letters, 6, 325–328.
Lemasson, A., Glas, L., Barbu, S., Lacroix, A., Guilloux, M., Remeuf, K., Koda, H. (2011). Youngsters do not pay attention to conversational rules: also in nonhuman primates? Nature Scientific reports, 1, 22.
Lemasson, A., Ouattara, K., Petit, E., Zuberbühler, K. (2011). Social learning of vocal structure in a nonhuman primate? BMC Evolutionary Biology, 11, 362.

Jeff Lidz

Title: Learning in Generative Grammar
Description: This course examines explicit models of learning in the context of generative syntax. We explore the inferential processes that support first language acquisition by examining how children leverage their experience in acquiring a grammatical system. We focus on three components of a learner: (1) the space of possible grammatical representations, (2) mechanisms of sentence processing that shape the learner's encoding of their input, (3) statistical inference mechanisms that relate the input to the space of possible representations. We will explore how these three components interact in shaping the acquisition of syntax and semantics. Empirical domains will include the acquisition of phrase structure, binding, quantification, argument structure and filler-gap dependencies.

Andrej Malchukov

Title: Issues in the typology of case-marking
Description: The course addresses issues in the typology of syntactic alignment and case-marking, in reliance on my recent and current work (see http://www.eva.mpg.de/lingua/staff/malchukov/pubs_malchukov.php ). The first lecture deals with the typology of (differential) case marking and alignment splits approached from the competing motivations/functional OT perspective. The second lecture considers diachrony of alignment change with a special focus on transimpersonals and split intransitives. The third lecture deals with the typology of ditransitive alignment, as well as discusses syntactic alignment preferences (“biases”) in monotransitive and ditransitive domains.

Prerequisites: Some basic knowledge of syntactic typology, as represented in typology textbooks
(e.g., Comrie 1989; Whaley 1997; (somewhat more advanced) Croft 2003).

Giorgio Magri

Title: The error-driven ranking model of the acquisition of phonotactics

Description: Nine-month-old infants already react differently to licit versus illicit sound combinations (Jusczyk et al. 1993), thus displaying knowledge of the target adult phonotactics. Children must thus rely on a remarkably efficient phonotactics learning strategy. What could it look like? According to the OT error-driven ranking model, the learner starts from a restrictive initial ranking, is trained on a stream of licit forms from the target adult language, and instantaneously slightly reranks the constraints whenever a mistake is made on the current piece of data. This learning model has been endorsed by the OT acquisition literature (Pater & Barlow 2003, Boersma & Levelt 2001, etcetera) because of its cognitive plausibility: it predicts a sequence of rankings that can be matched with child acquisition paths, thus modeling the observed acquisition gradualness; it relies on surface phonology without requiring any knowledge of morphology, that plausibly develops later than phonotactics; and it does not impose unrealistic memory requirements, as it only looks at a piece of data at the time without keeping track of previously seen data. Yet, error-driven ranking algorithms have been dismissed by the OT computational literature (Prince & Tesar 2004, Hayes 2004, etcetera) as algorithmically too weak: the behavior of the model depends on the stream of data, so that the model feels like a leaf in the wind of data, with little guarantees about the quality of its final grammar. In particular, with little guarantees concerning the restrictiveness of the final grammar, namely its ability to correctly rule out illicit forms, despite the fact that the algorithm is only trained on licit forms. Towards a reconciliation of these two acquisition and computational perspectives, I will present some initial but encouraging results on restrictiveness of error-driven ranking algorithms, that suggest that OT might have special formal properties that make it ideally suited in order to boost the algorithmic strength of this learning scheme.

Prerequisites: No special prerequisites

Roumyana Pancheva

Title: Comparatives and Superlatives at the Interface of Syntax and Semantics
Description: There has been a lasting interest in the grammar of comparatives and superlatives within the generative tradition, partly because languages employ a great variety of degree expressions that need to map to consistent meanings, but also because the grammar of comparison subsumes a number of key phenomena such as quantification, wh-movement, ellipsis resolution, focus interpretation, NPI licensing. This seminar examines some of the issues and results in comparatives and superlatives, primarily from the perspective of how their syntax and semantics interface, and with the goal of stimulating cross-linguistic research in this domain.

Main topics:
Sept 14: Comparison across categories: the cast of characters. Cross-linguistic variation in the syntax of comparatives. Brief overview of the semantics of gradable adjectives, measurement and comparison. Semantic parallels between comparison of individuals and events.
Sept 15: The architecture of comparatives and superlatives. QR of -er: scope ambiguities and ellipsis resolution. QR of –est: superlative ambiguities.
Sept 16: Individual and degree comparison; direct and reduction analyses of phrasal comparatives.

Suggested readings: [links to papers coming soon]

Beck, S. (2011) "Comparison Constructions". C. Maienborn, K. von Heusinger and P. Portner (eds.): Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. Bd.2. Berlin (u.a.): Degruyter Mouton, 1341-1389. [paper]

Sept 14:
Schwarzschild, R. (2008). “The Semantics of Comparatives and other Degree Constructions” Language and Linguistics Compass 2.2: 308–331. [paper]
Wellwood, A., V. Hacquard, and R. Pancheva (2012). “Measuring and Comparing Individuals and Events” Journal of Semantics 29, 207-228. [paper]

Sept 15:
Corver, N. (2005). “Comparative Deletion and Subdeletion” In M. Everaert and H. van Riemsdijk (eds). The Blackwell Companion to Syntax. Blackwell Publishing, 2005. [paper]
Heim, I. (2000). “Degree Operators and Scope,” in Proceedings of SALT 10, Cornell Linguistics Club, 40– 64. [paper]
Pancheva, R. and B. Tomaszewicz (to appear). “Cross-Linguistic Differences in Superlative Movement out of Nominal Phrases” WCCFL 30. [paper]

Sept 16:
Kennedy, C. (2007). “Modes of Comparison” Proceedings of Chicago Linguistic Society 43. [paper]
Bhatt, R. and S. Takahashi (2011). “Reduced and Unreduced Phrasal Comparatives” Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 29, 581-620. [paper]
Pancheva, R. (2010). “More Students Attended FASL than CONSOLE” In W. Browne, A. Cooper, A. Fisher, E. Kesici, N. Predolac, D. Zec (eds.) Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics: The Cornell Meeting, 2009. [paper]
Lechner, W. (2001). “Reduced and Phrasal Comparatives”. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 19, 4, 683-735. [paper]
Other references:

More papers on comparatives and superlatives can be found here:

Arnim von Stechow’s EALING 2008 course on Degree Semantics (and Syntax):

Prerequisites: introductory syntax and semantics

Yael Sharvit

Title: Principles of Tense Embedding
Description: We will discuss embedded tenses in various constructions (relative clauses, complement clauses of attitude reports, temporal adjunct clauses, etc.), from a cross-linguistic perspective. We will look at recent theories and will be especially concerned with how principles of tense embedding conform to more general principles of embedding, and with the question of whether there can be "tenseless" languages, or languages without embedding.

Prerequisites: TBA

Edward Stabler

Title: Language, pattern, and computation
Description: The mechanisms responsible for the production and recognition of natural languages and patterns are quite various, but are all standardly approached with "modular" strategies: Relatively independent aspects of languages/patterns can be investigated before dealing with the "interfaces", interactions among those various aspects. This modular approach underpins standard computational approaches as well. Properties of patterns are studied independently of many particular properties of instances, to reveal fundamental bounds on how much, and what kind of "memory" is needed to recognize or produce them; what kinds of repetition, variation are found with respect to the abstracted properties. These lectures will compare some proposed computational universals of human languages to other sorts of patterns found in birdsong and elsewhere in nature.

Prerequisites: none
Website: http://www.linguistics.ucla.edu/people/stabler/paris12/

Donca Steriade

Title: Intervals vs. syllables as units of linguistic rhythm
Description: Stress, meter and related rhythmic processes operate on certain minimal rhythmic units. These consist of a nucleus (a vowel or vowel-like element) plus neighboring consonants. Phonological theory has thus far identified these units as syllables, e.g. [6], [4], or parts of syllables, e.g. moras [3]. In these lectures, I present evidence supporting an alternative unit: the Vowel-to-Vowel interval. An interval contains a nucleus, plus any segments that follow it, up to the next nucleus, or the end of the domain. Thus theEnglish word sceptical is a prosodic word (PW) divided into intervals (I) as [sk[ɛpt]I[ɪk]I[əәl]I]PW; divided into syllables, the same word would be parsed as [[skɛp]σ[tɪ]σ [kəәl]σ]PW. This example illustrates the fact that intervals contain, like syllables, exactly one nucleus, and that their left and right edges are shifted rightwards relative to those of syllables. Intervals are already in use in phonetic work on durational invariance [1], [5], [7]. Phenomena that depend solely on the count of rhythmic units get identical accounts under both theories: what differs is the location of predicted unit edges. This difference has interesting consequences for the computation of metrical weight [2], for a better understanding of phonotactic domains [8], for the analysis of rhyming and alliteration [9], and for the understanding of gradient and categorical durational invariance [3], [1], [7].
[1] Farnetani, E & S. Kori 1986 Effects of syllable and word structure in segmental durations in spoken Italian, Speech Communication 5 (1986) 17-34 17.
[2] Gordon, M. 2002 A phonetically driven account of syllable weight, Language, 78, 51-80
[3] Hayes, B. 1989. Compensatory lengthening in moraic phonology. LI 20.253–306.
[4] Hayes. B 1995. Metrical stress theory: Principles and case studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
[5] Kato, H, M. Tsuzaki and Y. Sagisaka. 2003. Functional differences between vowel onsets and offsets in temporal perception of speech: Local-change detection and speaking-rate discrimination, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 113 (6).
[6] Liberman, M & A.Prince (I977). On stress and linguistic rhythm. LI 8. 249-336.
[7] Mc Crary Kambourakis, K. 2004 Reassessing the Role of the Syllable in Italian Phonology: An Experimental Study Routledge.
[8] Steriade, D. 1999 Alternatives to the syllabic interpretation of consonantal phonotactics, in O.Fujimura, B.Joseph and B.Palek (eds) Proceedings of the 1998 Linguistics and Phonetics Conference, The Karolinum Press, pp. 205-242
[9] Steriade, D. 2012, in progress. V-to-V intervals as rhythmic units: the rhyming evidence.

Prerequisites: A prior course in phonology will be useful, especially if the elements of stress, syllabification and the basics of Optimality Theory were introduced. However all necessary notions will be defined during the lectures.

Michael Wagner

Title:The Grammar of Focus and Givenness
Description: In recent years, a series of studies have shown evidence that the prosodic prominence of individual words depends on their frequency and their contextual 'accessibility.' These effects have been argued to be a consequence of the optimal use of a channel with limited capacity, where the signal for words carrying less information is reduced and that for words carrying more information is boosted, leading to a 'smooth signal' (e.g., Aylett & Turk 2004, Language & Speech). The information theoretic approach rationalizes elegantly why the use of prosody seems to reflect contextual salience. This information theoretic perspective is often assumed to provide a more principled and parsimonious account for the distribution of prosodic prominence in general and the placement of accents in particular than linguistic theories focus and givenness, which view prosodic accent placement as syntactically constrained way to encode anaphoric relations to salient linguistic antecedents. This class reviews evidence that despite the intuitive appeal, facts about prosodic prominence across languages cannot easily be reduced to such an information-theoretic rationale in terms of accessibility (cf. Wagner & Klassen, submitted) or predictability. While information-theoretic processing effects on prosody are unquestionably real, it seems that a theory of the grammatical encoding of focus alternatives (Rooth 1992 NALS) is nevertheless necessary, and indeed focus effects seem to override those of predictability or accessibility when in direct competition. Some of the stranger properties of the anaphoric use of prosody to mark focus and givenness are looked at: In English, but not (or less so) in French, there is an apparent phonological effect that creates a 'givenness illusion' when a semantic contrast is marked without making a sufficient phonological contrast at the same time (Wagner 2011 LCP). A curious consequence of this effect is that identical rhymes sound good in French but bad in English (Wagner & Mc Curdy 2010 Cognition). The effect doesn't follow from any existing theory of focus or givenness (or information theoretic accounts for that matter), and raises a number of puzzles, including with respect to what it means to be either semantically or phonologically contrastive. The class explores what this effect and others tell us about the nature of focus and givenness marking and explores its syntactic underpinnings.

Prerequisites: Some basics in syntax and semantics.
Website: http://prosodylab.org/participate/ealing-2012/

Ronnie Wilbur

Title: Three aspects of sign language structure
Description: (1) the interaction of meaning and form in sign languages;
(2) the linguistic treatment of non-manuals (face/head/body) in sign languages and a crosslinguistic hypothesis waiting to be tested; and
(3) the interaction of information structure (topic, focus) with syntax and prosody.

Prerequisites: I will presuppose familiarity with basic syntactic theory and analysis.
Website: A detailed description of these lectures can be found HERE

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