March 31: Wataru Uegaki (Keio University & Institut Jean-Nicod) – Leiden

We are happy to announce that on Thursday, March 31, Wataru Uegaki (Keio University & Institut Jean-Nicod) will give a LUSH talk in Leiden entitled A unified in-situ semantics for the Q-particle in Japanese.
We hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, March 31, 2016
Time: 15:30 – 17:00
Location: Leiden, Van Wijkplaats 4, room 005


It is cross-linguistically common for a single particle to serves as a part of a wh-indeterminate and a disjunction marker (Jayaseelan 2001; Slade 2011; Szabolcsi 2015). Among such multi-functional particles, one of the most well-studiedone is the Japanese particle “ka” (Kuroda 1965; Hagstrom 1998; Shimoyama 2006, i.a.). However, none of the current compositional semantic analysis of “ka” (Hagstrom 1998; Shimoyama 2006; cf. Slade 2011) can successfully capture the fact that its function is conditioned by its syntactic position, both in its wh-indeterminate use and its disjunction use, in a parallel fashion. Specifically, both in wh-indeterminates and disjunctions, when the “ka”-phrase is syntactically smaller than a CP, its semantic contribution is an existential quantifier (without the question force); on the other hand, when it syntactically forms a CP, its semantic contribution is to form a question. In this talk, I will propose a unified semantics for “ka” in wh-indeterminates and disjunctions that can properly capture this parallel effect.

According to the analysis, which I formalize in terms of two-tier alternative semantics (e.g., Rooth 1985, Beck 2006), “ka” is analyzed as an operator that always projects a set of alternatives. The crucial claim is that this set has to be flattened into an existential quantifier if (and only if) it cannot by itself enter the semantic composition with the rest of the sentence without a type-mismatch. This accounts for the fact that a “ka”-phrase in a sub-CP position is interpreted existentially while it is interpreted as a question when it forms a CP. The set projected by “ka” in the former case has to be type-shifted to an existential quantifier to avoid a type-mismatch, while the set projected by “ka” in the latter case will not be type-shifted since the set itself can be interpreted as a question. The formal details of this system will be presented and compared with alternative approaches, in particular that of Hagstrom’s (1998) and Slade’s (2011) choice-function analysis and Shimoyama’s (2006) one-tier alternative semantics (Hamblin semantics).


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