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LINGUIST List 24.3829

Mon Sep 30 2013

Confs: Semantics/Israel

Editor for this issue: Caylen Cole-Hazel <caylenlinguistlist.org>

Date: 29-Sep-2013
From: Yael Greenberg <yaelgreegmail.com>
Subject: Focus Sensitive Expressions from a Cross Linguistic Perspective
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Focus Sensitive Expressions from a Cross Linguistic Perspective

Date: 03-Feb-2014 - 05-Feb-2014
Location: Bar Ilan University, Israel
Contact: Yael Greenberg
Contact Email: yaelgreegmail.com

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Meeting Description:

Research Workshop of the Israel Science Foundation

We are very glad to announce a workshop on Focus Sensitive Expressions from a Cross Linguistic Perspective, organized by Yael Greenberg (Bar Ilan university) and Malte Zimmermann (Potsdam university). The workshop is funded by the Israel Science Foundation, with support from Bar Ilan University, Potsdam University, the Lechter Institute and the German Science Foundation. It will take place on the first week of February 2014 (Monday to Wednesday, 3-5.2.2014) at Bar Ilan university, Israel.

The workshop aims to examine the interpretive relation of so-called focus-sensitive expressions and information structure (IS) from a cross-linguistic perspective. In particular, its principal goal is to deepen our understanding of (a) the discourse/semantic nature of such expressions (b) their association with focus/information structure and (c) the connection between the two, by looking at a wide range of cross-linguistic data.

An example of a theory which attempted to establish such a connection is Beaver & Clark 2008, who proposed that exclusives (as well as additive, and scalar particles) 'conventionally' associate with focus, since their operation involves ordering alternatives in the QUD, whereas Qadvs show a more indirect, 'free' association with focus. There are currently some preliminary work supporting (some aspects of) this model, as well as some counter-examples and opponents (e.g. Kadmon & Sevi 2011, Roberts 2011).

Among the research questions to be addressed are the following:
- Do focus/IS-sensitive expressions exhibit cross-linguistic variation in their semantic and association behavior?

- For example, do different exclusive particles always associate conventionally with focus, both within and across languages? Can we define a core semantic operation for all such particles?

- Do exclusive particles and additive particles differ in their association behavior? What about scalar particles? Do they pattern with exclusives or with additives, or is there variation across languages?

- If so, what does this tell us about the semantic nature of these expressions and / or about the idea that association properties can be derived from semantics / pragmatic properties?

- Do other types of expressions (Q-adverbs, modals, proportional quantifiers, approximatives) in other languages show the same degree of focus-sensitivity as their English counterparts? Do the association properties of all of them can be indeed systematically derived from their semantics?

- How to treat focus sensitive particles that are themselves focused / stressed? How does this affect the type of alternatives they operate on? How can this be accounted for within a Beaver & Clark style model?

- How to deal with Kadmon & Sevi’s (2011) ‘Granny’s dog’-example (see also Roberts 2011), illustrating a distinction between association properties and answering a QUD?

The speakers at the workshop will include:

- Patricia Amaral, UNC- Chapel Hill
- David Beaver, Texas University at Austin
- Ariel Cohen, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
- Luka Crnic, The Hebrew University
- Regine Eckardt, University of Göttingen
- Nomi Erteschik- Shir, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
- Yael Greenberg, Bar Ilan Univeristy
- Nirit Kadmon, Tel Aviv University
- Roni Katzir, Tel Aviv Univeristy
- Angelika Kratzer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- Craige Roberts, The Ohio State University
- Mats Rooth , Cornell University
- Galit Sassoon, Bar Ilan Univeristy
- Aldo Sevi, Tel Aviv University
- Judith Tonhauser, The Ohio State University
- Malte Zimmermann, Universität Potsdam
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