Colloquium Fall 2019

Linguistics Colloquium 

Schedule -- Fall 2019

Colloquia will be held in Comm 311 from 3-4:30.

Aug 30, 2-3 pm <-------------------------NOTE! Special time.
Kazuhiko Fukushima, Kansai Gaidai University, Japan
Title: East Asian Relatives Revisited Yet Again: New Syntactic and Semantic Perspectives Based on Japanese
Sept 13
Martin Monti, UCLA Department of Psychology, Brain Injury Research Center
Title: The role of language in structure-dependent cognition
Abstract: Does language make us smart? A founding intuition of the modern study of language as a mental phenomenon, is the idea that despite language typically manifesting as a linear, time-dependent, sequence, in our mind we spontaneously build a rich abstract hierarchical representation of how each discrete element within the sequence relates to every other element. Whether the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie this ability also enable, support, or scaffold our ability to recognize and produce syntax-like structures in other domains of human cognition, such as logic reasoning, algebraic cognition, and music cognition, has a long history of being debated in philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and, more recently, neurosciences. In this presentation I will focus on a cognitive neuroscience approach to addressing this question. In particular I will focus on behavioral, neuroimaging, and neurostimulatory work addressing this question in the context of deductive reasoning, algebraic reasoning, and production and processing of music sequences.
Sept 20
Alexis Wellwood, University of Southern California
Title: Meaning more
Investigations into the morphology, syntax, and semantics of comparative constructions intersect with big topics in formal semantics, linguistic theory, and cognitive development. In this talk, I propose a path through what is known about the structure, meaning, and understanding of *more* that suggests a scientific, compositional semantic theory constrained by independent theories of morphosyntax and cognitive psychology.
Oct 18
Stefan Moal, Université Rennes 2, France
Title: Breton : the maintenance and revitalization of a Celtic language in France

Abstract: Breton is the only Celtic language in continental Europe. Is is used nowadays by a small, scattered, ageing bilingual minority within Brittany’s population. In the context of the highly centralised French state, marked by a long-standing monolingual ideology, it is clearly one of the most endangered languages in Western Europe. Breton is the medium of a rich singing tradition and still enjoys a robust ongoing cultural creativity. Language policy efforts are at last bearing some fruit, though rather moderately. Frontal opposition to the language has become rare, external attacks and internal apathy have receded. Like in most language revitalization contexts however, the handover from traditional speakers to new speakers poses a series of delicate challenges.

Nov 8
Andrew McKenzie, University of Kansas
Title: Semantic licensing of incorporation with mediating relations

In this talk, I argue that noun incorporation (NI) is semantically licensed by mediating relations that are required for the nominal's full interpretation by the semantics.  NI challenges our understanding of composition, because it is a weakly compositional process: The meaning of the whole is greater than the meanings of the apparent parts.  Semantic approaches to NI involve the insertion of an existential quantifier (Van Geenhoven 1998) and specialized forms of conjunction (Chung and Ladusaw 2001).  

However, these do not provide an adequate source for the existential quantifier, so the composition problem remains.  We can solve this problem by looking at incorporation of non-objects (~[knife+cut]), focusing on the Kiowa language of Oklahoma. Non-objects need a thematic role in addition to existential binding.  I propose that a mediating relation is required to semantically link the noun to the verb.  This relation, introduced by a low functional head between noun and verb roots, binds the noun's entity argument and assigns a thematic role. Absent a relation, the noun’s entity argument is not saturated, and the entire expression will not receive the right meaning.  Complications arise in limiting which thematic relations occur, but verbs that routinely take thematic NI tend to assign a very particular role (e.g. directed motion verbs assign goals). These roles reflect presupposed components of the verbs' meaning, and that makes them readily assignable.

What about object incorporation? In Kiowa, environements that do allow object incorporation independently involve a similar relation introduced above the noun+verb complex.  One of these environments is derivation, so a categorizing head provides the non-thematic mediating relation.  This approach also applies to English synthetic compounds: Verbs feeding them are grammatical but uninterpretable until the affix licenses a categorizing head carrying a mediating relation.  In languages where NI routinely involves objects, the verbal categorizing head carries a [D] feature, which provides the mediating relation.  This head also allows us to distinguish whether object incorporation is valence-changing, based on whether it accepts case.

Nov 15
Rosa Vallejos, University of New Mexico
Title: TBA

Nov 22
Daniel Harbour, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Title: The Permeability Problem