New: Amsterdam Colloquium Proceedings paper

Our paper “Fixing de Morgan’s law in counterfactual antecedents” is now available as part of the Proceedings of the 22nd Amsterdam Colloquium here!

Abstract:

Classical semantics for counterfactuals are based on a notion of comparative similarity.
These semantics are intensional, hence they predict that logically equivalent clauses can
be substituted in counterfactuals salva veritate. A recent truth-value judgment study by
Ciardelli, Zhang, and Champollion ([6]; CZC) appears to challenge both the idea that comparative similarity plays a role in counterfactual semantics and the prediction that logical
equivalents are substitutable. CZC account for their data via an inquisitive semantics for
disjunction and a semantics for counterfactuals that does not exploit the standard similarity algorithm. We report on a study consisting of two experiments that start from CZC’s
general idea, but use a simpler scenario, manipulate negation more systematically, and add
an extra task based on the selection of pictures. Our results replicate the differences found
by CZC, but they also suggest that the effect is linked to the presence of overt negation
rather than disjunction. We conclude that (i) inquisitive disjunction is neither necessary
nor sufficient to account for the problem in full generality, and (ii) the evidence does not
encourage rejecting a similarity semantics.

New paper in Language & Linguistics Compass!

Angela He (Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Eva have a new paper on the acquisition of event nominals and light verb constructions in Language & Linguistics Compass:


https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/lnc3.12363

Abstract. In language acquisition, children assume that syntax and semantics reliably map onto each other, and they use these mappings to guide their inferences about novel word meanings: For instance, at the lexical level, nouns should name objects and verbs name events, and at the clausal level, syntactic arguments should match semantic roles. This review focuses on two cases where canonical mappings are broken—first, nouns that name event concepts (e.g., “a nap”) and second, light verb constructions that do not neatly map syntactic arguments onto semantic roles (e.g., “give a kiss”). We discuss the challenges involved in their acquisition, review evidence that suggests a close connection between them, and highlight outstanding questions.

LCL in the Alps!

Eva will give two talks in Europe next week, representing the truly cross-linguistic work the lab has been working on:

The first talk will take place at the conference Crosslinguistic Perspectives on Processing and Learning (X-PPL) in Zurich, and Eva will present joint work with Ashwini Vaidya (IIT Delhi) on processing light verbs in Hindi in the their talk Practice makes perfect: Frequency of language-wide predicational strategy eases processing cost in Hindi light verb constructions.The second talk will take place at the 14. Bayerisch-Österreichischen Dialektologentagung in Salzburg, where Eva and her collaborator Andreas Trotzke will talk about their work on a variety of Bavarian: Mogst a weng a Schnitzala? Eine psycholinguistische Untersuchung zur referenziellen Verkleinerungsfunktion in ostfränkischen Nominalphrasen.

LCL @ CAMP!

Two LCL grad students will present their work at the upcoming California Meeting on Psycholinguistics (CAMP) at UC Santa Cruz:

  • Catherine Arnett & Eva Wittenberg: Conceptual effects of Verbal Reduplication in Mandarin Chinese (poster on Saturday, October 26)
  • Joshua Wampler & Eva Wittenberg: Doing thus and so: Event referential expressions and referent complexity (talk on Sunday, October 27)

Congratulations, Catherine and Josh!

LCL @ AMLaP Moscow

The Lab will be represented at AMLaP Moscow with one talk (Talk B2)

Björn Lundquist, Martin Corley, Eva Wittenberg:
Priming of (in)transitivity in reading

…and one poster:

Mohammad Momenian, Shuk Ka Cham, Jafar Mohammadamini, Eva Wittenberg, Brendan Weekes, William Marslen-Wilson:
Contrasting Cross-linguistic Effects of Semantic Transparency: Evidence from Cantonese and Farsi Compounds

See you in Moscow!

Size before shape, shape before color

The LCL features a guest speaker, Petra Mišmaš from the University of Nova Gorica, coming to present on adjective ordering at our next lab meeting on April 23rd at 10AM in APM4452.

Abstract:

The talk builds on an old observation that the order of attributive adjectives is universal (see for example Hetzron 1978, Sproat and Shih 1991, etc.). This also holds for adjectives for size, shape and color which seem to universally come in the order size > shape > color. One account of such adjective ordering restrictions was offered by the cartographic approach to syntax, see for example Cinque & Rizzi (2008) for an overview of the cartographic program. The core idea of this approach is that phrases consist from lexical heads which are dominated by hierarchies of functional projections. Crucially, the order of functional projections in the hierarchies is argued to be universal. This also holds for the noun phrase in which functional projections host, among other material, adjectives (Cinque 1994, Scott 2002). This means that the order of adjectives is universal because adjectives are hosted by functional projections which appear in a universal hierarchy. Based on this, the focus of the talk will be on the adjectives for size, shape and color as these adjectives will be used to investigate the possibility of a cognitive basis of the universal hierarchy of functional projections.

Following Cinque & Rizzi (2008) and Ramchand & Svenonius (2014), general cognition will be considered as a possible source of the universal hierarchy of functional projections. Specifically, I will report on a series of experiments which are a result of joint work with Rok Žaucer and Franc Lanko Marušič and are a part of an ongoing project Probing the cognitive basis of the cartographic hierarchy of functional projections in the noun phrase (J6-7282) financed by the Slovenian Research Agency and conducted at the University of Nova Gorica. These experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that if the universal hierarchy is dictated by general-cognition restrictions, then the order of projections hosting adjectives should be reflected in various non-linguistic cognitive processes. In the talk, I will report on the results of these experiments as well as ongoing research.

Special Issue: Adjective order through a Germanic lens

The journal Linguistics just published a new Special Issue on adjective order in Germanic languages, edited by Andreas Trotzke and Eva Wittenberg:

https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/ling.2019.57.issue-2/issue-files/ling.2019.57.issue-2.xml

Contents:

  • Andreas Trotzke and Eva Wittenberg: Long-standing issues in adjective order and corpus evidence for a multifactorial approach
  • Elnora ten Wolde: Linear vs. hierarchical: Two accounts of premodification in the of-binominal noun phrase
  • Kristin Davidse and Tine Breban: A cognitive-functional approach to the order of adjectives in the English noun phrase
  • Ermenegildo Bidese, Andrea Padovan and Claudia Turolla: Adjective orders in Cimbrian DPs
  • Sven Kotowski and Holden Härtl: How real are adjective order constraints? Multiple prenominal adjectives at the grammatical interfaces