Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Penn Linguistics Colloquium

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 29
  • Publication
    Too-many-solutions and Reference to Position in Serial OT
    (2010-01-01) Staroverov, Peter
    Any OT constraint banning a phonological entity in some position predicts that two types of languages should be attested: the ones which satisfy the constraint by changing the marked element and the ones where position of a marked element is modified. Yet for most such constraints, the languages which modify the marked element are attested but the ones modifying the position are not. The paper proposes a way to principally solve this problem within the framework of Serial OT. The solution consists in replacing the relevant OT constraints with constraints that specify position in the output of the previous derivational step (PS-constraints). Modifying position does not improve on PS-constraints since position in the output is irrelevant to their violation profile and position in the previous step cannot be changed by Gen. Adopting PS-constraints makes phonological theory more restrictive in a way that is compatible with the attested typology in the domain of voicing neutralization and syncope-stress interaction. The theory of PS-constraints is grounded in a precise definition of phonological position. If a constraint C mentions the elements of prosodic hierarchy both below and above the segmental level, the elements above the segmental level constitute position.
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    Mandarin 'even', `all' and the Trigger of Focus Movement
    (2010-01-01) Constant, Noah; Gu, Chloe C
    This article proposes a syntax for Mandarin even/all constructions. We show that “focus movement” under ‘even’ is not deeply connected to semantic focus or stress, since the same movement occurs in the absence of focus or prosodic triggers. Rather, these movements are mediated by a feature shared across ‘even’ and ‘all’ constructions, which we propose is the maximality feature on a potentially covert operator. This result, when placed alongside findings by Horvath (2007) and Cable (2007), supports the hypothesis that A-bar “focus movement” is always operator-driven. The syntactic similarities between ‘even’ and ‘all’ in Mandarin suggest a semantics where ‘even’ is built compositionally from a non-focus-sensitive ‘all’ (dou) plus a scalar focus operator (lian). We present a preliminary semantics of this kind, and discuss some challenges it faces. Finally, we address “partial focus movement” data that are initially unexpected on our account, and show how they can be incorporated under a framework that allows copy movement and PF deletion.
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    Processing scalar implicature: What can individual differences tell us?
    (2010-01-01) Tavano, Erin; Kaiser, Elsi
    There is much current debate about processing scalar implicature, but a considerable body of empirical evidence seems to support the idea that it requires additional time and effort on the part of the hearer (e.g. Breheny, Katsos and Williams 2005, Bott and Noveck 2004 and many others). The goal of this study was to contribute to our understanding of the cognitive processes that go on as comprehenders process sentences with and without scalar implicatures. We conducted a visual-world eye-tracking experiment using a picture-verification task, with a novel single-picture display, and asked participants to indicate whether the picture they saw was a good description of the sentence they heard. As a whole, our results suggest that processing scalar implicatures does appear to entail a processing cost. In this paper, however, we take a closer look at a pattern which has also been obtained in several previous experiments (e.g. Noveck 2001, Noveck and Posada 2003), namely, the tendency for participants to split into two distinct kinds of responders in the presence of underinformative descriptions. An example of an underinformative description is “Some giraffes have long necks”, which is not a sufficient description of the reality that all giraffes have long necks. Existing research suggests that adults respond to underinformative sentences either using a consistent logical interpretation (e.g. “some” always means “some and possibly all”, and thus “Some giraffes have long necks” is judged to be true) or a consistent pragmatic interpretation involving a scalar implicature (e.g. “some” always means “some but not all”, and thus “Some giraffes have long necks” is judged to be false). Although it is widely assumed that participants’ answers reflect their on-line processing (i.e., a logical response means that no implicature was computed, a pragmatic response means that the implicature was computed), our data suggest that participants are aware of scalar implicature regardless of how they respond to underinformative sentences, and in some cases, greater processing can be demonstrated for participants who answer “logically”. We further suggest that the emergence of participant response groups may be due to participants’ sense that they should be consistent within an experimental context, rather than a difference in how underinformative items are interpreted.
  • Publication
    Korean Honorific Agreement too Guides Null Argument Resolution: Evidence from an Offline Study
    (2010-01-01) Kim, Lucy K
    An off-line referent acceptability-rating experiment was conducted to investigate the factors influencing the interpretation of null subjects in Korean. Particularly, it tested (i) whether the subject preference for the referent of a null pronoun present in Romance languages would be present in Korean and (ii) whether subject-verb honorific agreement would influence null subject interpretation. The target sentences were two clause sentences, and a null subject was contained in a subordinate clause, which preceded the main clause. The subordinate verbs varied in two honorific conditions: (i) [YESVHON] condition in which the verb contained the honorific suffix -si- and (ii) [NOVHON] condition in which the verb lacked honorification. The main clause included a subject (+/- honored person, e.g., grandmother or granddaughter), object (+/- honored person), and transitive verb (e.g., hugs). Each item was presented with a target sentence followed by a question-answer pair that identified the null subject as referring to the main clause subject or object. Forty-eight native Korean speakers participated. Their task was to rate the acceptability of the given answer for the question on a 5-point scale. The results show that participants were overall more willing to interpret the main clause subject as the referent of the null subject than the object (subject preference). Participants also gave higher ratings for the given answer in trials where the honored person (e.g., grandmother) was in subject position than in trials where the honored person was in object position. I propose that this stems from a frequency bias that an honored-person is more likely to be realized in subject/agent position in Korean sentences. The findings suggest that the interpretation of null subjects in Korean is guided by two distinctive factors: grammatical properties of potential referents and their honor statuses. In addition to grammatical subjects being more discourse prominent, honored entities are suggested to be more discourse-prominent than non-honored entities and that they are more likely to be interpreted as the referent of a null argument.
  • Publication
    Puzzles of Russian Subjunctives
    (2010-01-01) Antonenko, Andrei
    In this paper I explore the structure of Russian subjunctive and indicative clauses, and demonstrate the asymmetries between them. The first asymmetry is the phenomenon of subject obviation, i.e. ban on coreference between the pronominal subject of the embedded subjunctive clause and the subject of the matrix clause. The second asymmetry is the fact that the long-distance scrambling of subjects is allowed out of subjunctive complements, and prohibited out of indicative complements. The third asymmetry concerns the fact that the subject wh-extraction is allowed out of subjunctive embedded clauses, and prohibited out of indicative. In order to account for these asymmetries, I adopt the framework by Pesetsky and Torrego (2001, 2007) and propose featural approach to binding (similar to Branigan, 2000), according to which binding operated on bundles of formal features, and not only on overt nominals. That allows me to reduce obviation effects to the violation of Principle B on featural level. I further propose that Russian indicative clauses lack complementizer, and what was though to be an indicative complementizer in Russian (chto) is in fact located in Spec,CP position. At the conclusion I show how Criterial Freezing approach by Rizzi (2006) can account for impossibility of subject extraction (both wh-extraction and scrambling) out of indicative embedded clauses, and propose the mechanism according to which subjunctive complementizer (by) can free up the subject of the subjunctive embedded clause for extraction.
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    The Perception of Complex Onsets in English: Universal Markedness?
    (2010-01-01) Sperbeck, Mieko; Strange, Winifred
    Second language (L2) learners of English whose native languages have relatively simple syllable structure have a strong tendency to modify complex onsets in production. Past studies have shown that such modification is often correlated with sonority-based markedness. According to this principle, the marked bi-consonantal sequences are such that the sonority distance between the first consonant and the subsequent consonant is relatively small. For instance, /pl/ is considered to be less marked than /bl/ since the former has larger sonority distance. A question of interest here is whether such “markedness” would be applicable to the perception of complex onsets by Japanese-speaking learners of English. The current study tested Japanese L2 learners and American English controls in a categorial ABX discrimination test of 8 contrasts between nonsense words with consonant cluster onsets CC(C)VCV vs. CVC(C)VCV sequences (e.g., /spani/ vs. /sepani/) and included /sp, sk, pl, bl, kl, gl, spl, skl/ clusters. Results showed that overall accuracy by Japanese listeners was significantly poorer than for the Americans (72 % and 98% correct, respectively). Certain clusters were harder for Japanese listeners (e.g., 76% correct for /pl/ but 64% for /bl/). However, in general, relative difficulty was not accurately predicted by sonority-based markedness. Alternative hypotheses for relative perceptual difficulties include the acoustic characteristics of the stimulus materials and effects of native phonological structures.
  • Publication
    Non-Reciprocal Pluraction with -Aw in Japanese: Context Dependent Pluralization of Individuals and Events
    (2010-01-01) Yamada, Masahiro
    The Japanese verbal suffix -aw appears in reciprocal and non-reciprocal pluraction sentences. The syntax of the former instance has been studied in the literature (Ishii, 1989; Nishigauchi, 1992; Nakao, 2003; Bruening, 2004, 2006), while the semantics, especially in the latter use has not been studied (cf. Yamada, 2009). I present numerous examples of the non-reciprocal pluraction use of -aw and argue for a claim that the lexical meaning of -aw has a pluralization component over individuals and events and comes with a particular context dependent domain restriction for the event pluralization. Although I cannot discuss in detail, the present study will easily extend to the reciprocal use of -aw by adapting the idea of generalized pluralization operator n* (Sternefeld, 1999). Thus, it enhances the close connection between reciprocal and relational plural (Langendoen, 1978; Sternefeld, 1998; Sauerland, 1998; Beck, 2001, among others). Furthermore, the current study claims that -aw is a linguistic expression that gives the context dependent event/situation restriction that Beck (2001) speculates for one of the interpretations of English reciprocal sentences. Thus it also argues for the pragmatic nature of the event pluralization, in addition to the individual counterpart detailed in Schwarzschild (1998).
  • Publication
    The Temporal Indeterminacy of Nasal Gestures in Karitiana
    (2010-01-01) Everett, Caleb
    In Karitiana, word-medial nasals occurring between oral vowels may surface as circum-oralized, post-oralized, or completely oralized consonants. For example, the word for ‘thing’ may surface as [ki.'dnda], [ki~.'nda], or [ki.'da]. Interestingly, this surface variation of Karitiana nasals is due to the temporal indeterminacy of nasal gestures in the language, i.e. the duration of velic aperture varies significantly across tokens. This sort of temporal indeterminacy has not been documented for any language in the literature, and similar surface variation of nasal forms in other languages has been shown to result from asynchrony between velic oscillation and oral occlusion. The author provides acoustic data that illustrate clearly the temporal indeterminacy in question. These data were recently recorded and analyzed in the field, and demonstrate conclusively that velic aperture duration is far from constant in the language. This fact contravenes expectations based on the literature, and it remains to be seen if and how it will be handled by contemporary phonological models.