March 26, 2014

Jackman Lecture Series: Lisa Matthewson (March 28)

The fourth and final talk of the Jackman Lecture Series "Beyond Babel: Meanings in the Minds of Speakers" takes place this Friday, March 28, starting at 3pm (sharp) in the Jackman Humanities Building at 170 St. George Street (Room 100).

Speaker: Lisa Matthewson, University of British Columbia

Title: "Semantic uniformity and diversity: Evidence from the Pacific Northwest"


Languages differ in the meanings they are able to express (witness difficult-to-translate words), as well as, more interestingly, in the meanings they are grammatically required to express. While English requires tense information to be marked in every sentence, St’├ít’imcets (a Salish language spoken in British Columbia) allows tense to be absent, but instead deploys grammatical markers for the speaker’s source of evidence for the information. In the face of such variation, the most interesting question of all is what, if any, semantic commonalities all languages share. In this talk I uncover some of the deep unity underlying surface diversity in the areas of tense and evidence marking, comparing English with several indigenous BC languages.

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