The primary aim of LFRG is to give you an opportunity to have informal discussions of your own and other people’s ideas without having to worry about saying something wrong. Thus, practice talks and presentations of works in progress (or in regress) or papers that you find interesting are especially welcome.

The range of possible topics include semantics, syntax, their interface, and what not having a connection to either syntax or semantics. The idea is that a lot of research does not fit into the straight jacket of a narrow area – though it is by no means required to have any interdisciplinary interests to attend LFRG.

Meetings this semester are:

Wednesdays, 1-2:00pm in 32-D461 unless noted

There are basically four main kinds of meetings: 1) presentations of one’s own work, including in progress and in regress; 2) a genuine reading group meeting: everyone reads, or at least browses, some interesting paper, and we discuss it; 3) a tutorial-like meeting where the persons in charge tell everyone something about not so widely known things – like cool experimental techniques, math tools, new empirical results, etc., and then optionally people say what they think about that; and 4) brainstorming sessions: the persons in charge provide a topic and the necessary background, and the point is to generate some ideas about what one can do about the topic.

Meetings and changes in the schedule are announced here and by email to interested people. If you want to receive the email announcements, want to be in charge of a meeting, or have any other comments about the Syntax-Semantics Reading Group, email either Tatiana Bondarenko or Christopher Baron.

Claiming an LFRG slot is not scary at all – so don’t hesitate to do that!

Fall 2019

September 25, 2019
  • LFRG: Keny Chatain (MIT)

    September 25, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

    Title: What cumulative asymmetries tell us about weak readings and vice-versa
    There is an asymmetry between subject and object every: object every gives rise to cumulative readings ; subject every doesn't (Kratzer, 2000).
    (1) 3 detectives, 27 suspects
    a. The three detectives interrogated every suspect (ok, 9 suspects each)
    b. Every detective interrogated the 27 suspects (*9 suspects each)
    Another asymmetry comes from weak cumulative readings. There has been hints in the literature (Buccola and Spector, 2016; Haslinger and Schmitt, 2019) that the cumulative truth-conditions of (2), given in (2a), are sometimes as weak as (2b).
    (2) The 10 children…

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October 2, 2019
  • LFRG: Filipe Hisao Kobayashi (MIT)

    October 2, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

    In this talk, I analyze an understudied reciprocal construction which I call Scattered Reciprocals (SRs). SRs are built from two syntactically distinct phrases, one in an adverbial position and another in an argumental position, as illustrated by the Brazilian Portuguese example in (1):

    (1) Os alunos vão um falar com a orientadora d-o outro.
    the students will one speak with the supervisor of-the other
    'The students will speak with each other's supervisor.'

    This talk is concerned with the question of how the pieces of SRs compose to give rise to reciprocity. After discussing…

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October 23, 2019
  • LFRG: Vincent Rouillard (MIT)

    October 23, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

    An Alternative Based Analysis of Temporal in-Adverbials

    Following the idea that polarity sensitivity in language results from the logical relation between alternatives, I analyze the changing polarity sensitivity of temporal in-adverbials as the result of a change in the logical structure of alternatives. More precisely, I compare the lack of polarity sensitivity of such modifiers in (1), where they specify the length of an event, with their status as NPIs in (2), where they assign a left-boundary to the Perfect Time Span.

    (1) a. Mary wrote the paper in minutes.

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October 30, 2019
  • LFRG: Filipe Kobayashi & Vincent Rouillard (MIT)

    October 30, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

    Title: Tying Free Choice in Questions to Distributivity

    Disjunctive answers to universally modalized wh-interrogatives have been noted to lead to free choice inferences.

    (1) Q: Which books are we required to read?
    A: The French books or the Russian books.
    Implies: You are allowed to read the French books and you are allowed to read the Russian books.

    The presence of such inferences has lead many to propose that wh-items can quantify over generalized quantifiers (Spector 2007,2008; a.o.). However, this move does not capture the lack…

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November 6, 2019
  • LFRG: Enrico Flor (MIT) & Filipe Hisao Kobayashi (MIT)

    November 6, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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November 13, 2019
  • LFRG: Itai Bassi (MIT)

    November 13, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

    Sloppy names and competition

    Roeper (2006) discovered that proper names, as well as definites and indefinites, can have sloppy readings in focus and ellipsis contexts (thought to be impossible since at least Geach 1962). In a class reunion after 20 years, one can say: 

    (1) Only MARY still looks like Mary.  (based on Roeper 2006)

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November 27, 2019
  • LFRG: Christopher Baron (MIT)

    November 27, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

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December 11, 2019
  • LFRG: Frank Staniszewski (MIT)

    December 11, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

    Title: A variable force analysis of positive polarity neg-raising modals


    I argue that data like (1) show that the modals should and supposed to can give rise to weak existential-like readings, which are not predicted under current approaches.

              (1)       Context: Walking through tunnels to a talk on campus, we find ourselves in a basement area among         &…

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