Category Archives: CRISSP Lecture Series

Sabine Iatridou and Jan-Wouter Zwart at CRISSP

Sabine Iatridou will give a lecture series on tense and aspect on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Also on Friday, Jan-Wouter Zwart will give a seminar entitled ‘Periphrastic morphology, verb clusters, and verb movement’.

> The Iatridou Lectures: Fancy Games with Tense and Aspect
> CRISSP Seminar with Jan-Wouter Zwart: Periphrastic morphology, verb clusters, and verb movement


The Barker Lectures: Continuations and Natural Language

CRISSP is happy to announce a CRISSP Lecture Series with Chris Barker on October 14-16, 2015. The title of the Lecture Series is ‘Continuations and Natural Language’.


Scope-taking is a hallmark of natural language: not only is it widespread in the world’s languages, it is pervasive within individual languages. It is so familiar to us linguists that it is sometimes hard to appreciate just how astonishing it is for an expression to take material that surrounds it as its semantic argument. For instance, in “Ann gave everyone cookies”, the semantic argument of the quantificational DP “everyone” is the property constructed by abstracting over the direct object position, i.e., “\x.Ann gave x cookies”. Clearly, a deep and complete understanding of scope-taking is of foundational importance. Building on joint work with Chung-chieh Shan, I will bring to bear insights and techniques from the theory of programming languages, in particular, the concept of a CONTINUATION. One potential advantage of continuations over other approaches is that continuations allow fine-grained control over the order of evaluation. This allows a new account of sensitivity to linear order in weak crossover, reconstruction, negative polarity licensing, and dynamic anaphora. I will go on to explain how continuations allow understanding the traditional method of Quantifier Raising not as an ad-hoc heuristic for constructing so-called “logical forms”, but as a bone fide logical inference rule in the context of a substructural logic. This will lead to an account of parasitic scope and recursive scope, as in adjectives such as “same” and “different”, as well as of sluicing as a kind of anaphora, including accounts of sprouting examples (“Ann left, but I don’t know when”) and Andrews Amalgams (“Ann ate I don’t know what yesterday”).

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The Sprouse Lectures: A program for experimental syntax: data, theory, and biology

where did I go?CRISSP is happy to announce a CRISSP Lecture Series with Jon Sprouse (University of Connecticut) on March 16-18, 2015. The title of the Lecture Series is ‘A program for experimental syntax: data, theory, and biology’.


Over the past 15 years or so, the use of formal experimental methods has steadily gained popularity in theoretical linguistics. The question I’d like to address in this series is exacly how these methods can further the goals of syntactic theory. To that end, I will attempt to lay out a comprehensive research agenda that highlights the types of questions that I think formal methods are particularly well-suited to address. I will divide these questions into three types, roughly corresponding to each day of the lecture series: (i) questions about the data underlying syntactic theories (data), (ii) questions about the nature of syntactic theories (theory), and finally (iii) questions about the mentalistic consequences of syntactic theories (biology). For each topic, I will present a mix of old and new case studies, primarily based on acceptability judgment experiments, with at least one EEG experiment and one computational model thrown in for good measure. My hope is that these case studies will stimulate discussion about how we can push each of these research threads even further in the future.


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The Roberts Lectures: Parameter Hierarchies and Comparative Syntax

Ian Roberts

CRISSP is happy to announce a CRISSP Lecture Series with Ian Roberts (University of Cambridge) on December 16-19, 2014. The title of the Lecture Series is ‘Parameter Hierarchies and Comparative Syntax’.


This course looks at a way to break new ground in syntactic theory by reconceptualising the principles-and-parameters approach to comparative syntax, retaining its strengths and attempting to deal with its perceived weaknesses. The central idea is to organise the parameters of Universal Grammar (UG) into hierarchies, which define the ways in which properties of individually variant categories may act in concert; this creates macroparametric effects from the combined action of many microparameters. The highest position in a hierarchy defines a macroparameter, a major typological property, lower positions define successively more local properties. Parameter-setting in language acquisition starts at the highest position as this is the simplest choice; acquirers will “move down the hierarchy” when confronted with primary linguistic data (PLD) incompatible with a high setting. Hence the hierarchies simultaneously define learning paths and typological properties.

In this way, the criticism that formal comparative syntax has little to offer typological studies can potentially be answered. Lastly, a more purely theoretical component of the talk aims to show that the nature of the hierarchies is determined, not directly by UG, but by UG interacting with domain-general principles of simplicity and efficiency. The lectures will focus on the cross-linguistic analysis of null arguments, head movement and Case/agreement phenomena.

Research funded by the ERC Advanced Grant No. 269752.

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