Archive | November 2013

November 22: Natasha Korotkova (UCLA) – UiL OTS

We are happy to announce that on Friday, November 22, Natasha Korotkova (UCLA) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht entitled How to embed evidentials. We hope to see you all there! (Note the unusual day and timeslot.)

Date: Friday, November 22, 2013
Time: 11:00 – 13:00
Location: Utrecht, Trans 8, room 0.19


In this paper, I explore the question of (non-)embeddability of evidential markers across languages. Some languages allow evidentials under attitude predicates, e.g. Cheyenne (Murray 2010) or Cuzco Quechua (Faller 2002). Some languages do not, e.g. Bulgraian, German, or Japanese (Sauerland and Schenner 2007).

Current theories of evidentiality attribute the ban on embedding to the illocutionary nature of the respective evidentials, under the assumption that speech acts in general are not embeddable. Such view suggests a one-to-one mapping between illocutionary evidentials and non-embeddable evidentials. However, there seem to be counter-examples to that in the world’s languages.

It is not a given that speech acts always correspond to root clauses and there is a theory that puts forth an idea of embedded speech acts (Krifka forthcoming). I propose to implement semantics for evidentials within this theory and to derive non-embeddability from independent syntactic constraints.

This alternative is more versatile than the previous accounts as it allows to maintain the illocutionary vs. propositional distinction in the evidential domain without making unnecessary stipulations. It also makes correct predictions regarding which attitudes allow evidentials in their complements.

November 20: Hanna de Vries (Utrecht University) – LUCL

We are happy to announce that on Wednesday, November 20, Hanna de Vries (Utrecht University) will give a LUSH talk in (perhaps somewhat confusingly) Leiden entitled Number in morphosyntax and semantics: the case of British English group nouns. We hope to see you all there!

Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Time: 15:00 – 17:00
Location: Leiden, P.N. van Eyckhof 2, room 006


It is a well-known fact that singular group NPs in British English can occur with either a singular or a plural VP, but it has rarely been investigated whether the choice of agreement has any semantic consequences. Using the availability of quantificational distributivity as a diagnostic for semantic plurality, I show that morphologically singular group NPs in British English behave like atoms when they occur with a singular VP, but like sets when they occur with a plural VP. While most of the literature on group NPs treats them as atomic, I propose to analyse them as basically set-denoting, and I show how, under this assumption, their behaviour with different kinds of agreement follows from fairly standard assumptions about the semantics of number morphology.

Unlike previous approaches to British English group nouns (e.g. Barker 1992, Sauerland & Elbourne 2002, Sauerland 2004), the proposed analysis does not make use of language-specific semantic assumptions. Rather, the semantic facts are derived from independent morphosyntactic properties of the languages in question. In further support of this point, I will discuss some new data involving the interpretation of there-sentences in (American) English, which show similar agreement-related contrasts even when the subject is an ‘ordinary’ plural.