News Room
Workshop 'Sentences and Embedded Clauses: New Work in Syntax and Semantics', Paris

Posted On: July 10, 2015


September 14, 2015


IHPST, Grande Salle, 13 rue du four, 75006 Paris

metro Mabillon

Sponsored by the Institut dEtudesCognitives (IEC/ENS)

Video of my talk



9.15 - 9.30: Coffee

9.30 - 10.45: Uli Sauerland  (ZAS, Berlin): 'The Ubiquity of Embedded Clauses'

10.45 - 11.00: Coffee

11.00 - 12.15: Alexandre Cremers (IEC, ENS): 'Plurality effects with embedded questions and exhaustive readings'J

12.15 - 13.45: lunch

13.45 - 15.00: Jane Grimshaw (Rutgers): 'When subordinate and main clause wh clauses combine with say: force compatibility'

15.00 - 15.15: Coffee

15.15 - 16.30: Friederike Moltmann (IHPST-NYU): 'Illocutionary products and their form'

16.30 - 16.45: Coffee

16.45 - 18.00: Jonathan Ginzburg (Paris 7): 'Exclamative interjections'



Plurality effects with embedded questions and exhaustive readings

Alexandre Cremers (ENS, Paris)

Questions are known to behave like plural nouns. Most famously, Berman (1991) showed that embedded questions can be modified by adverbs of quantity such as 'mostly' or 'in part' (quantificational variability effect). They also give rise to cumulative readings (Lahiri, 2002), and homogeneity effects (observed but never implemented). Recently, it has also been shown that questions embedded under verbs like 'know' are ambiguous between weak, strong and intermediate readings. This ambiguity is usually seen as an orthogonal issue, and most recent literature on the various levels of exhaustivity completely ignores plurality effects. Here I show how an updated version of Lahiri's (2002) proposal can be combined with ideas from Klinedinst & Rothschild (2011) to yield a theory of strong and intermediate readings compatible with recent theories of plurality effects of definite plurals (e.g., homogeneity, cumulative readings). Along the way, we may discuss a few puzzles such as mention-some questions, emotive-factive verbs ('surprise') and the reason why 'believe' does not (usually) embed questions.

Exclamative interjections 
Jonathan Ginzburg (Paris 7)
The talk addresses exclamative interjections having the form `Oh ...' where ... can be `(my) god, jesus christ,..., damn, shit,'
I will offer a rough empirical characterisation of their antecedents and force and sketch a formal analysis of their meaning and contextual background in the dialogue framework KoS. For the semanticist they raise interesting issues about the nature of assertoric evaluation and they provide evidence for the need to state semantic rules in a grammar that is word-by-word incremental.

When subordinated and main clause wh clauses combine with say: force compatibility

Jane Grimshaw (Rutgers University)

Verbs with the universal light verb say as their complement-taking core can combine with three different kinds of wh-clauses: subordinate wh clauses (the canonical case) and quoted and main wh clauses. The last two clause types can combine with an embedding verb in certain structures, despite the fact that the clauses are not subordinated. These combinations are subject to the same principles as those governing subordinated wh complements.

The patterns of well-formedness within this paradigm follow from the hypothesis of Force Compatibility. Force may originate in the embedding (say) verb, or in the clause itself. Quoted and main wh clauses have Q(uestion)-Force. Subordinated wh clauses lack Force. The say verbs which combine with wh clauses vary in whether their meanings encode Q-Force, e.g. ask, encode A-Force e.g. announce, or encode no Force at all, e.g.mutter, groan.

The core principles of Force Compatibility are these: a clausal combing with say must encode Force. The Force specified by the say verb and the Force encoded by the clause must be compatible. Lexical stipulations such as “selection” (e.g. for “type”, or for +/-wh features) plays no role in this proposal.

As a consequence of Force Compatibility, Q-Force encoding verbs combine with all three wh clause types. Verbs which encode A-Force combine only with subordinate wh clauses. Say verbs which encode no Force combine only with quoted and main wh clauses. Verbs with different semantic structure (such as epistemics) cannot combine with clauses bearing Q-Force at all. The wh-clauses that they combine with are “issues”, not discourse questions.

Force compatibility predicts both the significant variation in complementation patterns and the highly restricted nature of the variation.


Illocutionary products and their form

Friederike Moltmann (CNRS-IHPST and NYU)

In recent work, I have developed the view that sentences serve to characterize attitudinal objects, such as mental states (e.g. beliefs, intentions), modal objects (e.g. needs, permissions, abilities), cognitive products (e.g. thoughts, decisions), as well as illocutionary products (assertions, requests, promises). On this view, independent sentences as well as sentences embedded under illocutionary verbs are predicates of the illocutionary product. Following Twardowski's distinction between actions and products, I take illocutionary products to be the abstract artifacts that result from illocutionary acts. Illocutionary acts in turn are performed by performing locutionary acts (which in turn are performed by performing phonologival and phonetic acts) (Austin 1969). This raises an important issue, namely what is the relation between locutionary products and illocutionary products? Are locutionary products parts of illocutionary products (and thus illocutionary products come with a physical manifestation) or are there illocutionary products that do not have locutionary products as parts? Moreover, may sentences also serve as predicates of locutionary products alone, as when they are embedded under verbs of saying and verbs of manner of speech? Finally, how can locutionary and other lower-level linguistic products be used for a novel and unified analysis of quotation?


The Ubiquity of Embedded Clauses

Uli Sauerland (ZAS, Berlin)

It remains debated whether clausal embedding is geographically and historically universal among languages.  I address two claims that have been prominent in this debate:  the claim that Old-Babylonian didn't have complement clauses (Deutscher 2000) and the claim that Pirahã doesn't have complement clauses (Everett 2005).  I show that both claims are wrong based on new data from Teiwa and Pirahã.