Upcoming LUSH talks

The following speakers have been confirmed for the coming months.
If you wish to receive regular updates via email, please subscribe to our mailinglist. If you are interested in giving a talk, please send an e-mail to one of our organisers.

LUSH talk by Alexandra Simonenko (Ghent University): Leiden, March 30, 3.00-4:30pm
LUSH talk by Tania Ionin (University of Illinois): Utrecht, April 3, 3.30-5pm
LUSH talk by Lisa Bylinina (Leiden University): Utrecht, April 13, 3.00-4:30pm

Have a look at our previous speakers here at the LUSH archives, where you can also find the handouts/slides of past talks.

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.

December 16: Special LUSH event on the occasion of Maartje Schulpen’s defense, Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Friday, December 16, on the occasion of Maartje Schulpen’s defense there will be a special LUSH event in Utrecht with talks by Ana Aguilar Guevara (National Autonomous University of Mexico) and Louise McNally (Universitat Pompeu Fabra). The talks will take place in the morning of December 16, at Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06, Utrecht.

We hope to see you all there!

9:45 – Opening & coffee/tea
10:00 – Ana Aguilar Guevara – Literal and enriched meaning of sentences with weak definites and bare singulars 
11:00 – Louise McNally – Idioms and the syntax/semantics interface of descriptive content vs. reference (joint work with Berit Gehrke)

Louise McNallyIdioms and the syntax/semantics interface of descriptive content vs. reference
The syntactic literature on idioms contains some proposals (e.g. Sportiche 2005, Cecchetto & Donati 2015) that are surprising from a compositional perspective: They propose that, in the case of verb-object idioms, the verb combines directly with the noun inside its DP complement, and the determiner is introduced higher up in the syntactic structure, or is late adjoined. This seems to violate compositionality insofar as it is generally assumed that the semantic role of the determiner is to convert a noun to the appropriate semantic type to serve as the argument to the function denoted by the verb. In this paper, we establish a connection between this line of analysis and lines of work in semantics that have developed outside of the domain of idioms, including work on incorporation and a recent implementation of a semantics for the “layered” DP (Zamparelli 1995) developed in McNally (to appear), McNally & Boleda (to appear). What all of this research in semantics shares is that in one way or another it separates the composition of descriptive content from that of discourse referent introducing material; what the latter proposal offers is a particularly promising way to handle the compositional difficulties posed by idioms.

Ana Aguilar GuevaraLiteral and enriched meaning of sentences with weak definites and bare singulars
Sentences with weak definites (1) and bare singulars (2) in complementary distribution convey two kinds of content: the literal meaning (LM), which is evidently derived from the combination of the meaning of the sentences’ constituents, and the enriched meaning (EM), which cannot be directly attributed to any constituent:

(1) Lola went to the store.
LM = Lola went to a store.
EM = Lola went to do some shopping.

(2) Theo went to church.
LM = Theo went to a church.
EM = Theo went to attend Mass

This talk examines the semantic-pragmatic nature of LMs and EMs and concludes that, whereas LMs should be considered truth-conditional content, EMs should be treated as being partly truth-conditional content and partly conversational implicature. This behaviour is accounted by Aguilar-Guevara and Zwarts’ [2011, 2013] analysis of weak definites and its extension to bare singulars, according to which the meaning of (1) is that: (a) Lola is the agent of an event of going to a location exemplified by the store kind, and (b) the event is part of the stereotypical usages associated with the kind. (a) corresponds to the LM that Lola went to a store. (b) accounts for the EM that Lola went to do some shopping, as this is a usual stereotypical purpose associated with stores. However, that Lola went there to do some general shopping and nothing else still stereotypically associated with stores -like returning bottles for recycling- or more specific -like buying milk only- is not stated in the logical form, but rather an inference conversationally derived.

December 7th: Lisa Bylinina (LUCL, Leiden University) – Leiden

We are happy to announce that on Wednesday, December 7th, Lisa Bylinina (LUCL, Leiden University) will give a LUSH talk in Leiden.
We hope to see you all there!

: Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

: 15:00 – 16:30

: Leiden, Matthias de Vrieshof 4/12

: Lisa Bylinina

: Grammar of Numerals And The Number Line

Numerals can be grammatically sensitive to the quantity that the numeral refers to: ordinal suppletion (‘first’ rather than ‘one-th’) is restricted to low numbers (Veselinova 1998); it’s often the case (in Russian, for instance) that cardinals referring to ‘1’ and ‘2’ agree in gender with their noun, while higher cardinals don’t; in many languages, the cardinal referring to ‘1’ is grammatically different from the rest of the cardinals — in Hebrew, the word for ‘1’ follows the noun while all other cardinals precede it (Borer 2005).

Some facts like these, reflecting grammatical splits on the number line, have been noted in linguistic literature but a systematic cross-linguistic picture is still missing. Where on the number line do these splits happen more often? Is ‘1 vs. the rest’ split more common than ‘1, 2, 3 vs. the rest’? Are there splits above 4? Are there interdependencies between splits (say, if a construction has no split after 1, it has no higher splits either)? These kinds of generalisations are relevant for theories of number cognition, suggesting a fundamental cognitive split around 4. I will report some findings of a typological study that aims to answer these questions (part of the ‘Language and Number’ project, a branch of NWO Horizon project ‘Knowledge and Culture’).

November 15th: Elizabeth Coppock (University of Gothenburg) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Tuesday, November 15th, Elizabeth Coppock (University of Gothenburg) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht. We hope to see you all there!

: Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

: 15:30 – 17:00

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

: Elizabeth Coppock

: Outlook-based semantics


This talk presents and advocates an approach to the semantics of opinion statements, including matters of personal taste and moral claims. In this framework, possible worlds are not complemented by judges (as in ‘world-judge relativism’) but rather replaced by outlooks: ‘outlook-based semantics’. Outlooks are refinements of worlds that settle not only matters of fact but also matters of opinion. Several virtues of the framework and advantages over existing implementations of world-judge relativism are demonstrated. First, several authors have argued that world-judge relativism does not actually explain the ‘disagreement’ of ‘faultless disagreement’, while a straightforward explanation suggests itself in outlook-based semantics. Second, outlook- based semantics gives a satisfactory account of subjective attitude verbs which allows for lack of opinionatedness. Third, outlook-based semantics unproblematically explains the connection-building role of aesthetic discourse and the group-relevance of discretionary assertions, while capturing the same effects in world-judge relativism obviates the purpose of the judge parameter. Finally, because the proposed circumstances of evaluation (outlooks) are entirely analogous to possible worlds, the framework is easy to use and extend.

May 25th: Crit Cremers (LUCL) – Leiden

We are happy to announce that on Wednesday, May 25th, Crit Cremers (LUCL) will give a LUSH talk in Leiden. We hope to see you all there!
Date: Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
Time: 15:30 – 17:00
Location: Leiden, Eyckhof 2, room 001
Speaker: Crit Cremers
Title: Algebras of our mind, windmills of language: the wenn/ob/oder-complex

In German, the functionals for conditionals, embedded questions and disjunctions are distinct: wenn, ob and oder, respectively. In many other languages, however, the three functionals partially converge: als/of/of  (abb) in Dutch, si/si/ou (aab) in French,  eger/mi/mi (abb) in Turkish,  εί/ηέ/ηέ (abb) in Homeric Greek, kung/kung/og (aab) in Tagalog, if/if/or (aab) in English.

Elaborating on these patterns, I will argue that the wide-spread partial convergence is far from accidental. The triple wenn/ob/oder covers the full space for binary non-veridical sentential operators.  The functionals establish an essential triangle, reminiscent to the triangle of quantification Danny Jaspers constructed, with ob as the pivot and thus the non-veridical counterpart to Aristole’s affirmative indefinite in the domain of quantification The triangle links the entailment sets of a proposition p, of its negation not-p and of its question ?-p. The functional triple constructs the triangle in such manner that aba languages are unlikely to exist: the conditional and the disjunction diverge in all relevant algebraic aspects. By conjecture, this calculus of non-veridicality is native, as the essential algebras of meaningful language are bound to reflect human semantic capacity.