Author Archives: Koen Roelandt

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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Marijke De Belder and Jeroen van Craenenbroeck at CGSW

CRISSP member Marijke De Belder will be giving a talk at CGSW30. Jeroen van Craenenbroeck is an invited speaker at the conference.

  • Marijke De Belder, ‘The epenthetic consonant in West-Germanic diminutives is syntactic’. The 30th Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop (CGSW30). University of Chicago, Chicago, USA. (abstract)
  • Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, ‘Verb Clusters Redux’. The 30th Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop (CGSW30). University of Chicago, Chicago, USA.

CRISSP Seminar with Michael Cysouw

CRISSP is happy to announce a CRISSP Seminar with Michael Cysouw on Monday June 1, 2015.

Title: Language comparison through massively parallel texts


A central goal of general linguistics is to try and make statements about human language in general, and not just for a few, widely studied languages. There currently exists a range of different methodologies to investigate and compare many disparate languages. However, the central problem of comparability always raises its ugly head: how do we make sure that we are comparing like with like across languages? As a solution to the problem of comparability, I propose to use massively parallel texts, i.e. the same text translated into many different languages (cf. I will present a few basic examples of how parallel texts can be used for language comparison and discuss possible future directions of this kind research.


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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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Upcoming Talks for Jeroen van Craenenbroeck

Jeroen van Craenenbroeck will give 4 talks in the following months:

  1. When statistics met formal linguistics: variation in Dutch verb clusters. GLOW 38. Paris, France, 15-17 April 2015.
  2. Verb clusters redux. CGSW 30. Chicago, US, 22-23 May 2015.
  3. A quantitative approach to Dutch verb cluster variation. Formal ways of analysing variation 2. Reykjavík, Iceland, 28 May 2015.
  4. Lexical items moving up the tree: grammaticalization of ECM-verbs in Dutch. With Marjo van Koppen. DiGS 17. Reykjavík, Iceland, 29-31 May 2015. (poster)