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Fall School for Formal Syntax and Formal Semantics (3-FS): call

 

The Fall School for Formal Syntax and Formal Semantics in Moscow will be hosted by the Higher School of Economics, home to the one of the leading Linguistics departments in Russia, the recently established Formal Linguistics Lab, and the International Laboratory for Logic, Linguistics, and Formal Philosophy.
 

The study program will include a range of mini-courses/research seminars on various topics in formal syntax, formal semantics and formal pragmatics.
All course materials can be found here.


Pavel Caha
(Masaryk University): Nanosyntax

The class will introduce the current stage of the Nanosyntax model of grammar, especially its later stages where phrasal spellout comes along with spellout-driven movement, backtracking derivations, Spec formation etc. While introducing these tools, I will be simultaneously investigating the phenomenon of case competition. Case competition arises in contexts where the grammar requires two cases on a single nominal, but only one of them gets to surface. In such constructions, the cases compete and the conflict is resolved according to a set of rules. These rules can, of course, be stated in a completely ad hoc fashion, say: in a language L, in a construction C, a case K1 wins over case K2. The goal of any theory is to move beyond such ad hoc statements, and replace them by general grammatical processes whose output the statements describe. My main goal will be to show that once we have the Nanosyntax model of grammar, we will need no rule of case competition at all, its effects entirely derivable from independent proposals about how the grammar works. The empirical discussion will start with Ossetic numerals and move on – hopefully – to Russian numerical phrases (though that remains to be seen). 

Barbara Partee (University of Massachusetts Amherst): The History of Formal Semantics

Formal semantics as it has developed over the last 50 years has been shaped by fruitful interdisciplinary collaboration among linguists, philosophers, and logicians, involving developments in linguistic theory, philosophy, cognitive science, and computational linguistics.  Before the birth of formal semantics in the late 1960’s, linguists and logicians were mostly agreed, for different reasons, that logical tools could not be seriously applied to natural languages. Philosophers and logicians considered natural language too unruly, while linguists like Chomsky considered the work of logicians to be irrelevant. The story of formal semantics starting from the 1970’s and beyond is the story of how linguists, philosophers, and logicians learned to appreciate, use, and synthesize the advances in each other’s fields. In these lectures, I’ll trace the background and history of these developments, describing(with a minimum of technical detail) some of the pivotal advances and controversies that have shaped the field. Lectures 2-5 will somewhat presuppose Lecture 1 but will not presuppose each other too much.


David Pesetsky (Massachusetts Institute of Technology): Case and Clause Type

We begin with a survey of the discoveries and generalizations that lay behind the proposal of “abstract case” as a universal licenser of nominals, advanced by Vergnaud and Chomsky in the late 1970s — and its most famous challenges, including the theory of dependent case (Yip et al. 1987; Marantz 1991; Bobaljik 2008), and others.  We then turn to some very recent challenges to the claim that issues of abstract case lie behind the special properties of nominals in non-finite vs. finite clauses (Pesetsky 2019) — and attempt to assess what remains from earlier proposals if this recent work is correct.  The class is designed to be accessible to students with a basic background in generative syntax, but should engage the interest of more advanced students and researchers as well. 

Тatiana Philippova (Higher School of Economics): Syntax of Comparative Constructions

In this course we will explore the form and internal structure of comparative constructions in a variety of languages, including Russian, English, Japanese, Turkish, Tatar, Bashkir, Chuvash and some Uralic languages. The focus will be on the so-called phrasal comparatives, in which the standard of comparison is expressed by a single phrase, typically a noun phrase (e.g. Mary is taller than her brother). In particular, we will review the famous debate on the syntactic structure behind phrasal standards, i.e. whether there is nothing beyond the NP in this position or whether there is an underlying clause, a part of which is unpronounced. In addition, we will consider interesting constraints on the object of comparison that the standard NP is contrasted with and discuss open and challenging questions that comparative constructions pose to current theorizing.

Yasutada Sudo (University College London): Morphosemantics and Pragmatics of Number Nominal number across languages

In this course we will investigate some of the current theoretical issues surrounding the morphology, semantics and pragmatics of nominal number. We will in particular focus on the idea that only certain part of the meaning of number comes from the lexically encoded meaning, and the rest comes from some other mechanism, and evaluate and compare several theoretical implementations of this idea. We will cover the following topics: 

– Nominal number across languages
– Theoretical approaches to unmarked plural
– Morphological vs. semantic markedness


Yasutada Sudo (University College London) & Daniele Panizza (University of Göttingen): Exhaustivity and Focus Particles

We will first review recent theoretical developments in the domain of exhaustivity inferences and scalar implicatures, and then discuss the semantics and pragmatics of focus particles like "only", "just" and "even" in light of them.


Natalia Slioussar (Higher School of Economics): Information Structure across Frameworks

 

Students who wish to enroll should submit an online form to be found here

 

In addition to classes, there will be a poster session where enrolled students could present their own research in formal syntax, semantics or pragmatics. Abstracts for the poster session should be sent to msk.school.2019@gmail.com by August 10. Abstracts should be anonymous, they should not exceed two pages, including examples and references, with margins of at least 1 inch/2.5 cm, in 12-point type. (Please note, that participation in the poster session is not obligatory.)
 

Early registration fees:  2000 rubles

Late registration fees: 3000 rubles 

 

The organizing committee provides visa support. 
 

Important dates:

Early registration deadline: August 10, 2019 

Late registration deadline: September 1, 2019

Abstract submission deadline: August 10, 2019

School dates: September 1-7, 2019

 

Organizing committee:

Svetlana Toldova

Alexey Kozlov

Stepan Mikhailov

Ilya Naumov

Alexander Podobryaev

 

Email: msk.school.2019@gmail.com

  • Morphological vs. semantic markedness


 

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