Friday May 2: Daniel Rothschild

April 29th, 2014

This week, Daniel Rothschild (University College London, Philosophy) will be presenting a new approach to the ‘it might be raining’ problem.

Speaker: Daniel Rothschild
Title: ‘Epistemic Contradictions’
Date: Friday 5/2
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401

We look forward to seeing you there!


Yalcin (2007) argued that the infelicity of epistemic contradictions, such as ‘It might be raining but it’s not raining’, cannot be accounted for with the normal pragmatic resources used to handle Moorean paradoxes. To explain the infelicity of epistemic contradictions, Yalcin gave a non-standard semantics for epistemic modals that is in most respects equivalent to Veltman’s (1996) dynamic update semantics. I will show that neither Yalcin nor Veltman’s semantics is adequate to deal with the problem of epistemic contradictions. I present a semantics that can account for them and discuss its implications for the dynamic view of meaning.

Friday April 25: Jonathan Cohen

April 22nd, 2014

This week, Jonathan Cohen (USCD, Philosophy) will be here to present some of his new work on the semantics/pragmatics distinction.

Speaker: Jonathan Cohen
Title: ‘Failure-Free Extrasemantic Content’
Date: Friday 4/25
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401

Please join us!

Friday April 4: Michael Glanzberg

March 31st, 2014

Please join us as we welcome Michael Glanzberg for the first meeting of the quarter!

Speaker: Michael Glanzberg
Title: ‘Context Dependence and Discourse Effects in Knowledge Attributions’
Date: Friday 4/4
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401

(Note: unless otherwise specified, all further meetings will take place in Social Sciences 401.)

Friday March 13: Anubav Vasudevan

March 13th, 2014

This week, we conclude the Winter Quarter by welcoming our very own Anubav Vasudevan to the workshop!

SPEAKER: Anubav Vasudevan
TITLE: ‘On Two Paradoxes of Information’
DATE: Friday 3/14
TIME: 11:30 to 1:20
LOCATION: Wieboldt 408

Friday February 28: Michael Franke

February 27th, 2014

Please join us this week for a talk by Michael Franke (ILLC, Amsterdam) on adjectives:

Speaker: Michael Franke (ILLC, Amsterdam)
Title: Optimal use of gradable adjectives: the effect of scale structure & prior expectations
Date: Friday 2/28
Time: 11:30 am to 1:20 pm
Location: Wieboldt 408


Gradable adjectives are commonly classified into absolute and relative cases. Absolute adjectives more readily allow for crisp truth value judgements, are less context-dependent (if at all) and less prone to give rise to vagueness than relative ones. The goal of this talk is to explore a model that tries to explain this distinction in terms of optimal speaker behavior. The main building block of the theory proposed here is the notion of an (almost) optimal convention of use that depends crucially on prior expectations about how likely a given property is instantiated to a certain degree.

Friday February 21: Karen Lewis

February 18th, 2014

This Friday, we are eager to welcome Karen Lewis (Columbia University, Philosophy), who will be discussing some challenges for our assumptions about how ‘would’ and ‘might counterfactuals interact. Please join us!

Speaker: Karen Lewis (Columbia University, Philosophy)
Title: Elusive Counterfactuals
Date: Friday 2/21
Time: 11:30 am to 1:20 pm
Location: Wieboldt 408

Friday February 7: Rebekah Baglini

February 6th, 2014

This week, Rebekah Baglini is back at the workshop again to present some of her work on stativity and lexical semantics. We hope you’ll join us!

Speaker: Rebekah Baglini (Linguistics, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago)
Title: States, degrees, and the semantics of lexical categories
Date: Friday 1/31
Time: 11:30 am to 1:20 pm
Location: Wieboldt 408


Linguists and philosophers often mention states in characterizing the referential properties of certain lexical items. But different languages use different syntactic categories to encode these meanings, leading to systematic variation in the shape of stative constructions. English exemplifies the three primary strategies for expressing stative meaning attested cross-linguistically: non-dynamic verbs (1), adjectival predicates (2), and certain abstract mass nouns or roots (3).

(1) VERBAL: Sam hungers for pie.
(2) ADJECTIVAL: Sam is hungry.
(3) NOMINAL: Sam has hunger.

Surprisingly, the semantics literature does not relate the types of stative expressions in (1)-(3) model-theoretically. It is typically assumed that stative verbs denote properties of stative eventualities; that (gradable) adjectives denote (functions from degrees to) properties of individuals; and that abstract mass nouns denote properties of individuals or individual kinds. This heterogeneity in the formal treatment of stative expressions provides the central question of this talk: can stative meanings be captured model-theoretically as a natural class across syntactic categories? The empirical focus of my research is cross-linguistic variation in the morphosyntax of stative constructions which, I argue, provides important clues to identifying the structures which underlie stative meanings universally. I draw heavily on my ongoing fieldwork on the Senegambian language Wolof, a language which exemplifies two different strategies for constructing statives which express gradable property concepts (concepts like tall, expensive, and happy which are prototypically associated with adjectives): some Wolof property concepts are lexicalized as stative verbal predicates, while others are lexicalized as mass nouns. I show that comparing the semantic properties of these stative expressions across categories points us towards a unified definition of statives as a natural class of meanings, and provides insight into the relationship between states and degrees in the semantic ontology.

Friday January 31: Peter Klecha

February 6th, 2014

Speaker: Peter Klecha (Linguistics, PhD Candidate, University of Chicago)
Title: Temporal Orientation and Modality
Date: Friday 1/31
Time: 11:30 am to 1:20 pm
Location: Wieboldt 408

Friday November 22: Joshua Mendelsohn

November 20th, 2013

This Friday, please join us for Joshua Mendelsohn’s presentation on ancient logic, entitled ‘Term Kinds in Aristotelian Modal Logic.’

Speaker: Joshua Mendelsohn (PhD Student, Philosophy)
Title: Term Kinds in Aristotelian Modal Logic
Date: Friday 11/22
Time: 11:30 am to 1:20 pm
Location: Harper 148

‘I encourage people to look over the paper in advance but I will try to give a self-contained presentation on Friday. I am hoping that some linguists will be able to help me think about the modalities in the examples (1), (2) and (3) on page 12, and this approach to modality generally.’

Tuesday November 19: Donka Farkas

November 13th, 2013

This week it is our pleasure to welcome Donka Farkas for a special Tuesday meeting of the Linguistics and Philosophy workshop, who will be here from the University of California at Santa Cruz to give a talk entitled, ‘Assertions, Polar Questions, and the Land in Between.’

Speaker: Donka Farkas
Title: Assertions, Polar Questions, and the Land in Between
Time: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Date: November 19, 2013
Location: Pick 22

The handout for the talk can be downloaded here.

Note the nonstandard date and time for this week.  The workshop will convene again at the normal place and time (Harper 148) starting on Friday 11/22.