Institut Jean Nicod

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Closed 'lab meeting' around the LINGUAE group

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Mercredi 5 juin, 2013 de 11h30 à 13h
IJN/LSCP seminar room, ground floor, Pavillon Jardin, ENS, 29 rue d'Ulm - 75005 Paris

Luigi Rizzi (University of Siena and Chaire Blaise-Pascal)

Criteria, the labeling algorithm and the 'Halting Problem'

ABSTRACT: In the first part of the talk I will briefly present the system of Criteria for the expression of scope-discourse semantic properties: the left periphery of the clause is populated by a system of functional heads (Q, Foc, Top, etc.) which trigger A’-movement and guide interpretation at the interfaces with sound and meaning. Criterial configurations give rise to freezing effects: an element satisfying a criterion (e.g., a wh-phrase moved to the embedded C-system in an indirect question) is frozen in place and cannot be further moved (Rizzi 2006 and much related work). Issues of “further explanation” arise at this point: can freezing effects be derived from fundamental principles of linguistic computation? In the second part I will present Chomsky’s (2013) approach to labelling, according to which a category created by Merge is labeled by the closest head (a case of minimal search, or relativized minimality). This approach combines the criterial conception of A’-movement with elements of Moro’s (2000) dynamic antisymmetry, and offers the promise of a comprehensive account of the “Halting Problem” of A’-movement: why is stepwise movement forced to continue in certain structural environments, and forced to stop in other environments? I will propose a particular implementation of Chomsky’s algorithm and illustrate its consequences w.r.t. different kinds of freezing effects.



Mercredi 29 mai 2013, de 11h00 à 13h00
Salle de réunion, rez-de-chaussée, Pavillon Jardin
ENS, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 paris

Salvatore Florio
(Kansas State University & University of Oslo)

Varieties of Singularism



Traditional linguistic approaches to the semantics of plurals are singularist in that they analyze plural expressions in terms of singular ones. For instance, plural terms are often interpreted as standing for set-thereoretic or mereological constructions.  However, these approaches have received heavy criticisms in philosophical logic. Following Boolos, there is an emerging consensus among philosophical logicians that, contra the established practice in linguistic semantics, plural discourse cannot be reduced to, or understood in terms of, singular discourse. The alternative view is that, rather than referring to a single set-like object, plural terms refer plurally to many objects at once. Though a number of arguments have been leveled against singularist approaches, their significance remains to be elucidated. My main aim is to provide a more careful examination of the arguments against singularist approaches and to show that, upon close inspection, such arguments are les!
s threatening to traditional linguistic frameworks than they are made out to be.

I begin by distinguishing three kinds of singularism corresponding to three levels of semantic analysis: regimentation singularism, truth-theoretic singularism, and model-theoretic singularism. After discussing the case against regimentation singularism, I identity a crucial assumption underlying conceptual arguments against truth-theoretic and model-theoretic singularism, namely the type-conservation requirement. This is the assumption that an expression of the object language should be interpreted by an expression of the same type in the metalanguage. I argue that this principle is problematic and should therefore be abandoned. Finally, I survey some recent arguments against singularism based on strictly empirical and linguistic considerations. I conclude that singularism is a sound approach to the semantics of plurals.

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