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Linguistics Seminar Series - Dr. Hadas Kotek (New York University)

Event Type
Linguistics Department
FLB 1080 - Lucy Ellis Lounge
Feb 8, 2018   4:00 - 5:00 pm  

Talk Title: A selective ban on syntactic scope-taking


Abstract: The grammar offers two primary modes of scope-taking: a syntactic approach---overt or covert movement---and a semantic one---focus alternative computation (Hamblin 1973, Rooth 1985, a.o.). Rooth (1985) and others note a semantic complication when movement lands in a region where alternatives are being computed. Many semanticists have proposed to complicate the compositional semantics to avoid this problem (Poesio 1996; Shan 2004; Novel and Romero 2009; Beck 2016; Charlow 2017; Ciardelli, Roelofsen, and Theiler 2017).


In contrast, I argue that the grammar indeed disallows such configurations, and this is the source of so-called wh intervention effects (Hoji 1985; Beck 1996, 2006; Pesetsky 2000; among others). While previous accounts of intervention have concentrated on only certain forms of quantification causing intervention, I provide novel evidence from English and Japanese that movement of any DP into a region of alternative computation is impossible. What at first glance appears to be an imperfection of grammar, to be corrected, is in fact a consequence of the architecture of the syntax/semantics interface. The proposal has far-reaching implications for how a wide array of linguistic phenomena must be modeled, including wh-movement, successive-cyclic movement, reconstruction, binding, subjects and subject raising, quantification, focus, and intensionality.


Dr. Kotek is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Syntax at the NYU Department of Linguistics. The goal of her research is to develop an understanding of the inventory of the tools available to the language faculty for the construction of natural language utterances and for their interpretation: What strategies are employed during structure building in the syntax? What additional machinery must the semantics provide in order to interpret these structures? How does this inventory vary cross-linguistically, and how does it manifest itself in online sentence processing? Her website can be found here and her CV can be found here

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