April 10, 2019

Research Groups: Friday, April 12

Note that there is no meeting of the Syntax Group this week.

10:00 AM-11:30 AM, SS 4043
Psycholinguistics Research Group
Guest speaker: Lindsay Hracs (visiting scholar, Department of Computer Science) "The acquisition of 'only' from the perspective of naturalistic and laboratory stimuli."
Acquiring focus sensitive particles such as only is a learning problem that spans multiple linguistic interfaces. In order to fully interpret sentences such as 'Only Patrick eats sushi', children must draw on aspects of phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Laboratory studies (Crain et al. 1994, Paterson et al. 2003, Paterson et al. 2006, Notley et al. 2009, Kim 2011, among others) show that children have difficulty with such sentences until rather late in development, i.e. 8 years. However, explanatory factors vary considerably from study to study. I argue that modelling methodologies are appropriate for studying this learning problem because they allow for manipulation of cues from different linguistic interfaces in a way that laboratory studies do not. Finally, I present data from a corpus study of child-directed and child-produced speech that show children and caregivers both exhibit similar behavioural changes across development, and that co-occurrences in the corpus suggest children are not exposed to the sentences used as stimuli in the laboratory studies as frequently as previously thought.

1:00 PM - 2:30 PM, SS 560A
Semantics Research Group
Michela Ippolito (faculty) on joint work with Donka Farkas (University of California, Santa Cruz): "Epistemic stance without epistemic modals: The case of the presumptive future."
I will discuss sentences with occurrences of the future tense that are not interpreted temporally but signal a weakened commitment to the prejacent proposition. The talk will focus on Italian but the presumptive future is present in most Romance languages, as well as many languages outside this language family (e.g. Dutch, Greek, etc.). The particular goal of this work is to provide an appropriate semantics for sentences containing this kind of future. To do so, we will compare the presumptive/epistemic future to standard epistemic modals in the language and we will discuss the presumptive future in declarative as well as in interrogative sentences. The more general goal is to contribute to our understanding of the many ways in which natural language can express ‘modulated’ commitment, and the different kinds of ‘epistemic softeners’ a language can employ.

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