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TOM 8: 8th Annual Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal Workshop on Semantics

April 11, 2015

Location:2203 Dunton Tower
Key Contact:Dr. Raj Singh
Contact Phone:(613) 520-2600, Ext. 1778

Carleton University is pleased to host the 8th annual Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal workshop on semantics (TOM 8).

TOM is a forum for graduate students to present their research in semantic theory, and there are invited talks by faculty in associated universities. The invited speakers this year are Dr. Lisa Matthewson (UBC), Dr. Dana Isac (Concordia), and Dr. Daphna Heller (University of Toronto).

There is no fee, but we ask that you register (below **) to help us finalize our lunch & dinner details.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided during the conference.

We plan to hold an informal dinner at a nearby restaurant after the conference. Please indicate (below **) whether you wish to join us or not so we can make appropriate reservations.

Call for papers:

TOM 8 will accept abstracts for talks and posters. Talks will be 20 minutes long with 10 minutes for questions (invited talks will be 30 minutes with 15 minutes for questions). Abstracts should be maximum one-page in length, with at least one-inch margins and 12 point font (Times or equivalent). Send your abstract to the contact person in your area, and specify whether you would like to be considered for a talk, a poster, or both. Abstracts are due on March 8 2015, and authors will be notified as soon as possible after this date.

Toronto/Hamilton: Dr. Michela Ippolito:
Montreal: Dr. Bernhard Schwarz:
Ottawa: Dr. Ana Arregui:

** REGISTER: To register for Tom 8 please click here.

Tentative schedule:

All events take place in Dunton Tower 2203 unless otherwise noted. This is the seminar room on the 22nd floor of Dunton Tower.

9:30-10:00: Welcome and breakfast

10:00-10:45: Invited talk, Daniela Isac, Conrodia University
Title: Are Imperatives Modal? A View from Syntax
Abstract: It has been noted repeatedly in the literature (Huntley 1982, 1984, Davies 1986, Wilson and Sperber 1988, Ninan 2005, Han 1998, etc.) that imperatives have a modal dimension, given that they present a proposition as a possible and desirable state of affairs. However, the opinion that imperatives are modal is not shared by all researchers (see for example, Portner 2007). In this talk I will argue that the view that imperatives are modal is supported by syntactic factors.

In the first part of the talk I will present reasons for abandoning the view that the syntax of imperatives simply contains an imperative Force feature hosted by the C head (as currently assumed by many researchers), and I will argue instead that the morpho-syntactic properties of imperatives can be captured by positing several functional heads, each containing a feature that contributes to the typing of a clause as imperative. The two relevant projections that I will introduce are an XP projection placed lower than CP, and a Speech Event projection, hosting 2nd person features. 

In the second part of the talk I will argue that the semantic content of the XP projection is modality on the basis of the proposed syntactic structure.  

(i) One argument is that the XP projection is present with both the so-called true imperatives and with surrogate ones. Thus, the feature hosted by the head of this projection must be shared by clauses with true imperative verbs, subjunctive verbs, and infinitive verbs. Moreover, I will show that the negative marker can also check this feature in imperative clauses. I propose that modality is the best candidate for the feature shared by all these items (imperative verbs, subjunctive verbs, infinitive verbs and negation), and thus that the XP can be identified as a ModP.

(ii) Another argument that I will discuss is that the two properties that Portner 2007 found problematic for the view that imperatives are modal, namely their lack of truth value and their exclusive orientation towards the addressee, do not uniquely identify imperatives, but are actually shared by certain epistemic and deontic modal verbs, both of which are undoubtedly modal (Hacquard 2006). I will show that a structure that contains an XP lower than CP, and a Speech Event projection (hosting 2nd person features) can account for these two properties, both for the relevant epistemics and deontics and for imperatives. 

(iii) Thirdly, I will show that imperatives pattern  with the same  epistemics  and deontics with respect to two additional properties: their lack of actuality entailments and their temporal orientation. These additional properties will be argued to also follow from the proposed syntactic structure of imperatives, in particular from the relative position of the ModP with respect to the TenseP, AspectP, and SpeechEventP.

10:45-11:00: Coffee break

11:00-11:30: Vesela Simenova, University of Ottawa
Title: On the relation between miratives, exclamatives, and evidentials

11:30-12:00: Can Serif Mekik, Carleton University
Title: Covert exhaustification and Turkish disjunctive phrases

12:00-12:30: Henrison Hseih, McGill University
Title: Actuality entailments and an additional meaning component

12:30-2:30: Lunch + Poster session (see below for more information)

2:30-3:15: Invited talk, Daphna Heller, University of Toronto
Title: Modification and contrast: the view from psycholinguistics
Abstract: TBA

3:15-3:30: Coffee break

3:30-4:00: Roxana-Maria Barbu, Carleton University
Title: Where do arguments and adjuncts really belong? 

4:00-4:30: Daniel Goodhue, McGill University
Title: Epistemic “must” is epistemically weak, yet veridical

4:30-5:30: Invited talk, Lisa Matthewson, University of British Columbia
Title: Adventures with discourse management in Gitksan
Abstract: Discourse particles such as German ja or doch have a rich tradition of investigation (see Zimmermann 2011, Grosz 2014 for recent overviews), and continue to intrigue researchers due to the analytical challenges they pose. While discourse particles are common cross-linguistically, they are notoriously difficult even to describe accurately – let alone analyze – in a language the researcher does not speak natively. Consequently, they often remain in the ‘too difficult basket’ long after a language has undergone extensive semantic analysis. In this talk I attempt to shrink the ‘too difficult basket’ by analyzing two discourse particles in Gitksan, an endangered Tsimshianic language spoken in British Columbia, Canada. 

The particles under investigation, k’ap and ist, both convey a pre-theoretic notion of ‘emphasis’. K’ap is glossed as ‘certainly, indeed, for sure’ by Rigsby (1986) and as ‘must, have to, absolutely, simply, really, no getting out of it, no two ways about it, no choice about it’ by Tarpent (1987) (in the closely related Nisga’a). Ist is glossed as ‘interact’ by Rigsby and as ‘affirmative’ by Tarpent. I argue that k’ap p is licensed when ¬p is in the Projected Set (the set of potential future common grounds at the time of utterance, Farkas and Bruce 2010). Ist p, on the other hand, conveys that the speaker wishes to downdate the current Question Under Discussion by asserting p (following Gutzmann and Castroviejo Miró’s 2011 analysis of verum focus). I show that these analyses correctly account for the distribution of the particles across a range of discourse contexts and speech act types. Several questions for future research remain, including how to account for the effect of the particles in imperatives. Larger questions are also raised about how we can account for subtle differences between k’ap and ist and similar elements (particles, verum focus) in German and English. 

5:30-6:00: Business meeting

6:30pm: Conference Dinner (Location TBA at the conference)

Poster Presentations:

Michael Gagnon (Concordia University), Seven reasons why even lazy pronouns are senseless
Gabriel Gaudreault (Concordia University), Semantics in pregroup grammars through a variant of the lambda-calculus
Olivia Podlesny (Carleton University), Investigating disjunction in American Sign Language
Ehsan Amjadian (Carleton University), Investigating bridging identification from an Information Retrieval perspective
Gita Zareikar (University of Ottawa), Aspect and Evidentiality in Azeri
Chris Genovesi (Carleton University), Metaphor and conversational implicature
Kunio Hessel and Ashley Sokalski (Carleton University), Numerals, indefinites, and binominal “each”

** REGISTER: To register for Tom 8 please click here.