Category Archives: Events

CRISSP Seminar with Željko Bošković

CRISSP is happy to announce another installment in the CRISSP Seminar series:

Lecturer: Željko Bošković (University of Connecticut)

Title: On the locality of movement: Be careful when you label

Date & time: Friday 6 November 2015, 17h30

Location: CRISSP/KULeuven Brussels Campus, room 2212

Participation: free


The talk will provide a uniform account of a number of locality effects, in particular, the ban on movement out of moved elements, the CED effect (the Adjunct Condition and the Subject Condition), Richards’s (2001) tucking in effect, and the full Comp-trace paradigm, including (in addition to the basic cases) relative and extraposed clauses, the impossibility of short-subject topicalization, French que-qui alternation, and the effect of wh-movement on agreement in languages like Kinande.

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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CRISSP Seminar with Daniel Harbour

CRISSP is happy to announce a CRISSP Seminar with Daniel Harbour on Monday May 11, 2015.

Title: The logical resources of person features


Traditionally, person features have been taken to denote predicates, with the minus value denoting logical negation. However, traditional features overgenerate person systems and must be constrained by ultimately nonexplanatory means (such as cooccurrence restrictions). This talk demonstrates that the need for ad hoc constraints vanishes if different logical resources are assumed. Specifically, person features denote power sets and feature values denote complementary operations by which sets act on one another. In tandem with this reconfiguration of the theory, I argue for a reenvisioning of the data pertinent to person theories, relegating syncretisms to secondary status and affording central position to partitions (superpositions of syncretisms) and treating person and spatial data on a par. Relative to these changes in data, the proposed theory generates all and only the required systems whilst deriving significant facts about their internal properties. These results suggest that the logical resources of feature theories in general are ripe for reconsideration.

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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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Second Call for Papers BCGL 8: The grammar of idioms

CRISSP (KU Leuven) and UiL OTS (Universiteit Utrecht), as part of the joint NWO/FWO project ‘The Syntax of Idioms’, are proud to present the 8th Brussels Conference on Generative Linguistics: The grammar of idioms.

Workshop description

According to the Fregean principle of compositionality, the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its parts and the rules used to combine them. This principle is flouted in the case of idioms (cf. Katz & Postal 1963; Fraser 1970; Katz 1973; Chomsky 1980; Machonis 1985; Schenk 1994; Grégoire 2009; among others). Every language contains idiomatic expressions which, by definition, denote a meaning that is not simply derivable from (the combination of) the meanings of the individual lexical items of that expression. A canonical example is kick the bucket, the meaning of which has nothing to do with either kicking or buckets; it simply means ‘to die’. The existence of such expressions within natural language gives rise to many questions which have puzzled linguists for years, such as how these phrases are formed syntactically, whether they are restricted to certain structural domains, or how it is that we are able to deduce the idiomatic interpretation of such phrases despite there being no clues as to their meanings within any of the individual lexical items that comprise these expressions.

The purpose of this workshop is to discuss and explore the phenomenon of idioms with the aim of gaining better theoretical and empirical insights into how such expressions are able to occur within natural language, and what sorts of rules of language they are governed by.

> Read the complete Call for Papers