Upcoming LUSH talks

The following speakers have been confirmed for the coming months.
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LUSH talk by Lelia Glass (Utrecht University): Utrecht, February 8, 15:30-17:00

Have a look at our previous speakers in the sidebar.


February 8th: Lelia Glass (Stanford University) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Thursday, February 8th, Lelia Glass (Stanford University) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht. We hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, February 8th, 2018
Time: 15:30 – 17:00
Location: Utrecht, Trans 10, room 0.19 (A.W. de Grootkamer)
Speaker: Lelia Glass
Title: An empirical investigation of distributivity, lexical semantics, and world knowledge

A predicate is understood distributively (1) if it is inferred to be individually true of each member of a plural subject; nondistributively if not (2).  Some predicates can be understood in both ways (3) [Scha 1981, Link 1983, Roberts 1987…]

  1. Alice and Bob smiled …. CONVEYS that they each smiled [distributive]
  2. Alice and Bob met …. DOES NOT CONVEY that they each met [nondistributive]
  3. Alice and Bob lifted the table …. COULD CONVEY they each lifted it [distributive]; COULD CONVEY they did so by working together [nondistributive]

In this talk, I address the open question: Which predicates are understood in which ways, and why?  Which ones act like smile, meet, or lift the table?  Of course, a predicate’s potential for distributivity depends on what we know about the event it describes: people have their own faces, so can only smile individually; but it is left open which other predicates behave in which ways.

To make progress on this question, I motivate and test two large-scale patterns in the distributivity potential of Verb Phrases:

  • Causatives (open the door) can be understood nondistributively, because as a general fact about causation, multiple individuals’ contributions might be jointly sufficient, individually insufficient to bring about a result.
  • Predicates with objects construed as incremental (eat the pizza; Tenny 1987, Krifka 1989) can be understood nondistributively, because multiple individuals might each affect different parts of the object (eat different parts of the pizza), only jointly affecting (eating) the whole thing.

I find evidence consistent with these predictions in a large-scale dataset of quantitative ratings for the distributivity potential of over 2600 Verb Phrases, supported by corroborating experiments.

When the pragmatics of distributivity is concretely specified in this way, I suggest that it can take on some of the explanatory burden that other theories attribute to the semantics, shifting the division of semantics and pragmatics in the analysis of distributivity.

November 16th: Mojmír Dočekal (Masaryk University) – Leiden

We are happy to announce that on Thursday, November 16th, Mojmír Dočekal (Masaryk university) will give an extra LUSH talk in Leiden. We hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Time: 13:15 – 14:45

Location: Leiden, Van Wijkplaats 2, room 003

Speaker: Mojmír Dočekal (Masaryk university), joint work with Marcin Wągiel

Title: Decomposing groups, bunches, and aggregates: Experimental evidence from derived collectives in West Slavic


Though the heterogeneous semantic nature of collective nouns has been known for a long time and keeps posing a challenge for a proper treatment, it was commonly assumed that collectives constitute a uniform category (e.g., Landman 1989, Barker 1992, Schwarzschild 1996). However, recent findings suggest that there are different types of such expressions (Pearson 2011, Henderson 2017). In this paper, we examine 3 classes of derived collectives in Czech and Polish: i) GROUP nouns, e.g., *rytíř*(CZ)/*rycerz*(PL) (`knight’) -> *rytířstvo*(CZ)/*rycerstwo*(PL) (`group/totality of knights’), ii) BUNCH numerals, e.g., *tři*(CZ)/*trzy*(PL) (`three’) -> *trojice*(CZ)/*trójka*(PL) (`group of three’), and iii) AGGREGATE nouns, e.g., *list*(CZ)/*liść*(PL) (`leaf’) -> *listí*(CZ)/*listowie*(PL) (`foliage’). Though all 3 classes involve collective inferences, they differ in a number of other properties, e.g., bunches are count whereas groups and aggregates are not. Unlike other classes, groups seem to have a generic flavor since they can combine with kind-level predicates. On the other hand, aggregates constitute clusters, i.e., spatial groupings involving topological relations (Grimm 2012), whereas groups and bunches do not seem to assert any spatial configurations. We investigate to what degree different modes of group-formation relate to decomposability of particular collective nouns. In this regard, we focus on the interaction between collectives and so-called A-*different* expressions such as *jiný*(CZ)/*inny*(PL) (`different’). In order to test the interaction of the 3 classes of collectives with A-*different* we designed parallel experiments on Czech and Polish where the acceptability of distributive inferences with collectives was tested. The talk presents the outcome of the experiment on the background of recent theories of plurality.

November 27th: Wataru Uegaki (Leiden University) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Monday, November 27th, Wataru Uegaki (Leiden University) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht. We hope to see you all there!

Date: Monday, November 27th, 2017

Time: 15:30 – 17:00

Location: Utrecht, Trans 10, room 0.19 (A.W. de Grootkamer)

Speaker: Wataru Uegaki

Title: Empirical arguments for the unified semantics of clausal complementation


The complementation pattern of responsive predicates—i.e., the clause-embedding predicates that can embed either declarative or interrogative complements—presents a puzzle for the compositional semantics of complementation. The traditional Question-to-Proposition reduction approach to responsive predicates faces the problem of non-reducibility (George 2011) and a problematic prediction concerning the interpretation of Predicates of Relevance (Elliot, Klinedinst, Sudo & Uegaki 2017). I argue that these problems are overcome by the unified view on the semantics of clausal complementation, where declarative and interrogative complements denote the same type of semantic objects (Ciardelli, Groenendijk & Roelofsen 2015; Uegaki 2015; Theiler, Roelofsen & Aloni 2016). Furthermore, I provide further support for the unified view by showing that it enables a semantic explanation of the cross-linguistic generalization that non-veridical preferential predicates (aka emotive doxastics; e.g., “hope”, “fear”, etc.) cannot embed interrogative complements (Uegaki & Sudo 2017).

October 19: Yasutada Sudo (University College London) – Leiden

We are happy to announce that on Thursday, October 19, Yasutada Sudo (University College London) will give a LUSH talk in Leiden.

We hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, October 19, 2017
Time: 13:15 – 15:00
Location: Leiden, van Wijkplaats 4 – 3B
Speaker: Yasutada Sudo (University College London)
Title: Japanese Wh-questions and Generalised Factivity (joint work with Wataru Uegaki)


Yoshida & Yoshida (1998) notice that the sentence-final particle no in Japanese questions can be dropped, especially in colloquial speech. While they say almost nothing about the interpretive effects of no-drop, Sudo (2013) examines it in polar questions (PQs) like (1) and proposes that the two versions of (1) differ in the so-called evidential biases they encode.

(1) kore taberu (no)? 
    this eat    (NO) 
    ‘Are you eating this?’
(2) nani taberu (no)?
    what eat    (NO) 
    ‘What are you eating?’

We will mostly focus on no-drop in wh-questions (whQs), as in (2), which has been scarcely investigated (cf. Yoshida & Yoshida 1998, Miyagawa 2001). We propose that the two versions of a whQ differ in the discourse felicity conditions. Specifically, the version with no requires the following to be common belief, while the version without no requires at least one of them to be not common belief: (i) the speaker wonders about the question and (ii) an answer can be immediately provided. We furthermore submit that these felicity conditions have to do with the ‘factive’ presupposition of no, which applies to both declarative and interrogative clauses. If correct, this analysis sheds light on evidential bias of PQs like (1) as well.

April 13th: Lisa Bylinina (Leiden University) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Thursday, April 13th, Lisa Bylinina (Leiden University) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht. We hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Time: 15:00 – 16:30

Location: Utrecht, Drift 23, room 107

Speaker: Lisa Bylinina

Title: Splitting Germanic n-words
Dominique Blok (Utrecht), Lisa Bylinina (Leiden), Rick Nouwen (Utrecht)


Constructions with an intensional verb and the n-word ‘geen’ in Dutch routinely lead to split scope readings: readings where the intensional verb ostensibly scopes between negation and an existential quantifier, as in (1).
 (1) Je hoeft geen stropdas te dragen.
      You must-npi geen tie to wear.
     ‘You do not have to wear a tie.’
We consider the phenomenon of split scope to be the general availability of these kinds of readings. English ‘no’ does not have this property: ‘You have to wear no tie’ does not have the lack of obligation reading.
Observing a number of other differences between ‘geen’ and ‘no’, we claim that there are two kinds of n-words that modify nouns in Germanic: ‘geen’ in Dutch (and its counterparts in German, Frisian, and Icelandic) are degree quantifiers that consist of a negative and a numeral meaning component; ”no’ in English (and its counterparts in e.g. Swedish) are not. We argue that the split scope phenomenon is tied to degree quantifier movement and is essentially a degree phenomenon. For this reason, split scope manifests itself in languages like Dutch but not in languages like English.

April 3: Tania Ionin (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Monday, April 3, Tania Ionin (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht.

We hope to see you all there!

Date: Monday, April 3, 2017
Time: 15:30 – 17:00
Location: Utrecht, Trans 10, room 0.19 (A.W. de Grootkamer)
Speaker: Tania Ionin (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign)
Title: Second language processing of definiteness and plurality

It is well-established that second language (L2) English learners from languages without articles or obligatory plural marking, such as Korean and Mandarin Chinese, have difficulty acquiring both articles and plural marking in English. Less well-established is whether, and how, the particular syntax/semantics mappings in the nominal domain in the learners’ L1 may influence the course of L2-acquisition. Furthermore, while most prior work in this domain has used offline (untimed) data collection methods, there is increasing evidence that online methods (ones that put time pressure on participants, and place the focus on comprehension rather than judgments) may be more successful at tapping into learners’ implicit knowledge (cf. Ellis 2005, Jegerski 2014). In light of these consideration, the present work has three goals: (i) to examine whether intermediate-to-high-proficiency L1-Korean and L1-Mandarin L2-English learners are sensitive to English articles and plural marking both online and offline; (ii) to examine whether the learners are influenced by L1-transfer, that is, whether they are more target-like in contexts that require plural marking / classifiers / demonstratives in the learners’ L1; and (iii) to examine the role of semantic universals, such as atomicity (cf. Chierchia 2010) and specificity, in the L2-acquisition of the nominal domain. These goals are accomplished through three experiments (joint work with Sea Hee Choi) which use self-paced reading and acceptability judgment tasks to tap into L2-English learners’ processing of: atomic vs. non-atomic mass nouns (experiment 1); the relationship between plural marking and (in)definiteness (experiment 2); and different types of definites (anaphoric vs. bridging) and indefinites (specific vs. non-specific) (experiment 3, currently ongoing; preliminary results will be reported).

March 30: Alexandra Simonenko (Ghent University) – Leiden

We are happy to announce that on Thursday, March 30, Alexandra Simonenko (Ghent University) will give a LUSH talk in Leiden.
We hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, March 30; 2017
Time: 15:00 – 16:30
Location: Leiden, Wijkplaats 4, room 006
Speaker: Alexandra Simonenko (joint work with Anne Carlier, Université Lille 3)
Title: The expansion of the l-articles in Medieval French as a consequence of a semantic shift

This project investigates the emergence of articles in Medieval French on the basis of quantitative data from parsed corpora MCVF and Penn Supplement to MCVF. We propose a semantic evolution path that accounts for the distribution of articles in Medieval French. Specifically, we suggest that in the history of French the definite series of articles underwent a change from strong to weak definite semantics (in the sense of Schwarz 2009), with both meanings being in competition since the earliest attested texts. This semantic shift yielded a progressive expansion of the definite article, which contributed to the eventual disappearance of bare nouns.