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.


April 13th: Donka Farkas (UCSC) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Wednesday, April 13th, Donka Farkas (UCSC) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht. We hope to see you all there!

: Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

: 15:30 – 17:00

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

: Donka Farkas

: The interpretation of declaratives and interrogatives: How semantics and conventions of use divide labor (joint work with Floris Roelofsen)


This talk presents an account of the semantics and discourse effects of falling and rising declaratives, polar interrogatives, and tag interrogatives in English. One of its major goals is to divide the labor between compositional semantics and conventions of use in a principled way. It argues that falling declaratives and rising polar interrogatives are unmarked sentence types, and as such, the differences in their conventional discourse effects follow from independently motivated semantic differences, combined with a single, default convention of use. As a result, the Fregean ‘illocutionary force’ operators Assertion and Question become unnecessary. In contrast, rising declaratives and tag interrogatives are marked sentence types whose discourse effects consist of the default effects, which they share with unmarked sentence types, augmented with special effects that are systematically connected to their formal properties. A central feature of the approach is that it maintains a parallelism between unmarked and marked sentence types on the one hand, and default and non-default discourse effects on the other.

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).

February 25th: Anja Goldschmidt (UU) – Leiden

We are happy to announce that on Thursday, February 25, Anja Goldschmidt (Utrecht University) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht entitled Hitting the nail on the head: Forces in verb meanings (joint work with Joost Zwarts (Utrecht University)).
We hope to see you all there!

Please note the change of time and venue!

Date: Thursday, February 25, 2016
Time: 15:30 – 17:00 16:15 – 17:15
Location: Leiden, Van Eyckhof 2, room 4 room 3


There is a growing recognition of the role of forces in verb meanings, starting with the seminal work of Leonard Talmy (Talmy 1985). In one line of research these forces are analyzed in terms of vectors, with a magnitude and spatial direction and interactions describable in vector-algebraic ways. This has been fruitfully applied by Phillip Wolff in the analysis of causative verbs like enable and prevent (e.g. Wolff 2007) and by Pross & Roßdeutscher (2015) in the analysis of the verb ziehen ‘pull’. We want to contribute to that line by studying a larger set of verbs (in German) exhibiting some degree of force exertion (e.g. schlagen and drücken, cf. 1+2) in order to find out what role force vectors play. We do not only look into their lexical semantics, but also into their compositional semantics, particularly into the modifiability by the force adverbs hart and leicht and into the combination with prepositions (e.g. ziehen an vs. drücken auf, cf 3+4). We offer a semantics of such verbs in which events, forces, and paths are brought together in a coherent way. We want to explore how this can help us understand why the specification of a result can sometimes make the force vector inaccessible for modification (hart schlagen versus ?hart einschlagen, cf 5+6).

(1) Chris schlägt Alex auf den Arm.
Chris hits Alex on the arm.
(2) Alex drückt gegen die Tür.
Alex pushes against the door.
(3) Alex zieht an der Tür.
Alex pulls on the door.
(4) Chris drückt auf den Tisch.
Chris pushes on the table.
(5) Chris schlägt Alex hart auf den Arm.
Chris hits Alex hard on the arm.
(6) ??Alex schlägt das Fenster hart ein.
??Alex breaks the window hard.

Pross, T., & Roßdeutscher, A. (2015). Representing Force Dynamics at the Syntax-Semantics-Interface. Presented at the Workshop Formal Semantics Meets Cognitive Semantics, Nijmegen.
Talmy, L. (1985). Force dynamics in language and thought. In W. H. Eilfort, P. D. Kroeber, & K. L. Peterson (Eds.), Papers from the Parasession on Causatives and Agentivity(pp. 293–337). Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.
Wolff, P. (2007). Representing causation. Journal of Experimental Psychology. General, 136(1), 82–111.

January 29th: Jeremy Kuhn (Institut Jean Nicod) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Friday, January 29th, Jeremy Kuhn (Institut Jean Nicod) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht. We hope to see you all there!

Date: Friday, January 29th, 2016

Time: 15:30-17:00

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

Speaker: Jeremy Kuhn (Institut Jean Nicod)

Title: Dependent indefinites in American Sign Language


In many languages, an indefinite determiner or numeral may be inflected to indicate that the value of the indefinite DP varies with respect to another DP in the sentence or in context. In American Sign Language, inflecting the numeral ONE with an ‘arc’ movement creates such a dependent indefinite: (1) means that the books vary with respect to the boys.

(1) BOYS IX-arc-a READ ONE-arc-a BOOK.
‘The boys read one book each.’

Most semantic analyses of dependent indefinites formalize a similar insight: dependent indefinites contribute a variation condition: the value of the variable introduced by the indefinite must vary with respect to the value of another variable in the sentence or in context. The specific implementation of this insight varies in significant ways, notably on the following two fundamental architectural questions:

1. Are dependent indefinites anaphoric to their licensor, or is the relation indirect?

2. Are dependent indefinites themselves quantificational or does distribution come from a (possibly covert) distributive operator elsewhere in the sentence?

Here I argue the following: (1) dependent indefinites have an anaphoric component; (2) they are themselves quantificational. I argue that new data involving spatial agreement in ASL gives insight into these questions. An analysis will be presented within the framework of Dynamic Plural Logic (van den Berg 1996, Nouwen 2003, Brasoveanu 2008), which will be introduced during the talk.

November 26th: Martin Schäfer (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Thursday, November 26th, Martin Schäfer (Friedrich-Schiller-Universtiät Jena) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht. We hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Time: 15:00-17:00

Location: Utrecht, Drift 25, room 2.06

Speaker: Martin Schäfer (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena)

Title: What do manner adverbs modifiy?

Many fundamental issues in the domain of manner adverbs remain elusive. One such issue is the modification target in manner modification. Semantically, the ontological type of the modification target is unclear: is it a Davidsonian event, or something else?
Syntactically, it is unclear in how far the modification target is linked to a specific syntactic position. At least two further factors complicate the issue: 1. There is no general agreement on the number of different readings of a single adverb (cf., e.g., the paired clausal vs. manner readings in Ernst 2002 vs. the distinction of two sub-clausal usages in Schäfer 2013). 2. The distinction between different readings often involves nuances that leave it open in how far the observed contrast can be construed as a class contrast, and in how far the observed contrast corresponds to other descriptions of contrasts in the literature. This is problematic even within one language, and even for adverbs with straightforward lexical semantics, cf., e.g.,`loudly’ and ‘woodenly’, which Ernst 2002 argues have only one reading, whereas Shaer 2003 maintains that they both have distinctive high and low readings.

I argue for the need to (semantically and syntactically) distinguish more than one sub-clausal reading in English, too. Based on the assumption that true manner modification requires a match between the conceptual structure made available through the verb and the modifying potential of the adverb, I hypothesize that distinctive patterns of adverb/verb combinations exist predominantly in syntactic positions close to the verb, where conceptual constraints from adverb and verb alike must be met. Preliminary evidence from a corpus study on the co-occurrence patterns of selected adverbs and verbs shows that this hypothesis is on the right track. Further, these results are in line with analyses that assume a) that true manner modification is not event predication and b) that the syntactic position of the modifier guides the selection of the modification target even at the level of sub-clausal modification.


Ernst, T. (2002). The Syntax of Adjuncts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schäfer, M. (2013). Positions and Interpretations. German adverbial adjectives at the syntax-semantics interface. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Shaer, B. (2003). “Manner” adverbs and the “association” theory: Some problems and solutions. In E. Lang, C. Fabricius-Hansen, and C. Maienborn (Eds.), Modifying Adjuncts, Berlin. Mouton de Gruyter.

November 13th: Lucas Champollion (NYU) – Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on the lucky date of Friday, November 13th, Lucas Champollion (NYU) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht. We hope to see you all there!

Date: Friday, November 13th, 2015

Time: 15:30 – 17:00

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

Speaker: Lucas Champollion

Title: Antecedents of counterfactuals violate de Morgan’s law
(Joint work with Ivano Ciardelli and Linmin Zhang)

Abstract: I present the results of a web survey suggesting that (1) can be true in situations where (2) is false.

(1) If switch A was down or switch B was down, the light would be off.
(2) If switch A and switch B were not both up, the light would be off.

Assuming that the antecedents of these sentences are correctly analyzed as “(NOT A) OR (NOT B)” and “NOT (A AND B)”, this creates a problem for any compositional account of counterfactuals that interprets the two antecedents in classical propositional logic: by de Morgan’s law, their denotations are identical. I argue that we can distinguish between (1) and (2) on a principled basis by interpreting their antecedents in propositional inquisitive logic. I also tentatively discuss distinguishing them via alternative-based implicature computations.