Kathryn Davidson (Harvard) will give the department colloquium on Friday, April 8 at 3:30 in ILC N400. A title and abstract of her talk follow.
Combining imagistic and discrete components in a single proposition: The case of sign language classifier predicates
Classifier predicates in sign languages (also known as "depicting verbs") have both discrete and imagistic components: they participate fully in the grammar as verbs and involve categorical handshapes that agree with the subject, but also have an obligatory "gestural" component that psycholinguistic experiments have shown are interpreted in an analog and iconic way. Understanding how to treat these verbs in a formal semantic system is therefore a challenge. In this talk I will draw parallels with work on quotation and attitude reports to introduce an analysis of classifier predicates involving the notion of an iconic "demonstration of events". I will also present corpus data from bimodal (sign/speech) bilingual blended utterances that sheds light on the syntax/semantics of classifier predicates. Finally, I will discuss extensions of this analysis of classifier predicates to formal semantic analyses of gesture.