22 March 2015

Homer and Bhatt speak in the department colloq

In connection with the department’s open house this week, Rajesh Bhatt and Vincent Homer will give the department colloquium this Friday, March 27, at 3:30 in N400. The title of their talk is “Move Something.” The abstract follows:

Typically, PPIs cannot be interpreted in the scope of a clausemate negation (barring shielding and rescuing). This means that when a given PPI is such that its scope is uniquely determined by its surface position, as is the case with e.g. would rather, the effect of putting it under a clause-mate negation is plain ungrammaticality.  With indefinites, such as some, things are different: they can appear in that same configuration, provided that they are interpreted with wide scope over negation, which, in their case, is an available option.

In fact, indefinites are independently known to be able to take free wide scope: it is thus a priori possible that a mechanism whereby indefinite PPIs escape out of anti-licensing environments is the same that gives them wide scope out of syntactic islands, i.e. they can be interpreted by choice functions. In this talk, we address the question of the nature of the mechanism at play when, for polarity purposes, elements take wider scope than where they appear on the surface. We present arguments from Hindi-Urdu that, when a PPI surfaces in an anti-licensing environment, the wide scope mechanism that salvages it is movement (overt in Hindi-Urdu), not existential closure of a function-variable.