This page contains some (but not all!) conference handouts and unpublished papers of mine. Feel free to download them and email me with comments!
Similative plurals and the nature of alternatives Manuscript
Paper submitted to Semantics and Pragmatics, drawn from my dissertation work. This paper develops an analysis of similative plurals, drawing on data from Persian and Japanese as case studies. Similative plurals are associated with a non-homogeneous plural inference: in upward-entailing contexts they are typically understood as referring to a sum individual that consists of at least one object in the denotation of the bare noun to which the similative morpheme is attached, and at least one individual that in the set of objects that are somehow similar to the bare nominal. I demonstrate that this non-homogeneous plural interpretation is not entailed, but merely implicated. I further demonstrate that the implicature analysis also requires appeal to an abstract alternative, which does not correspond to a lexical item in the language. I therefore argue against approaches to the derivation of alternatives that rely on lexical replacement and deletion, and advocate for a conceptualist approach to alternatives.
The (un)availability of idiomatic interpretations in Persian light verb stranding ellipses Manuscript
Paper under review at NLLT. VP ellipsis (VPE) and pseudogapping have been noted to have very similar distributions, and many analyses in the literature attempt to assimilate the latter to the former (Jayaseelan 1990; Johnson 2001, 2009; Lasnik 1995, 1999), or otherwise reduce the two to the same process (Merchant 2008, 2013). In this paper, we provide novel evidence from Persian revealing an asymmetry between VPE and pseudogapping: while VPE is acceptable with both compositional and idiomatic complex predicates, pseudogapping is only acceptable with compositional complex predicates. We argue that this difference follows from an analysis on which VPE is derived from PF Deletion, whereas pseudogapping involves a null element, the semantic content of which must be supplied anaphorically. Empirically, the paper establishes the existence of a novel asymmetry between VPE and pseudogapping, and thereby contributes to a growing body of work demonstrating various differences between the two constructions (Merchant 2008; 2013). It also contributes to the study of the interaction of complex predicates with elliptical constructions (Manetta 2018; Toosarvandani 2009). From a more theoretical standpoint, the paper offers cross-linguistic support for a pluralistic view of the mechanisms underlying ellipsis: cross-linguistically, the processes underlying superficially similar varieties of ellipsis in different languages may be fundamentally different. This viewpoint further militates against a cross-linguistically uniform analysis of VPE and pseudogapping; rather than assimilating the latter to the former across languages, we argue that some languages may derive the two constructions using completely different resources.
Non-uniform plural inferences as scalar implicature SuB23 talk handout LSA poster
Talk presented at Sinn und Bedeutung 23 in Barcelona, and poster presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Salt Lake City. Reduplication in Persian is associated with a non-uniformity inference: it is used to signal that there is a plurality of objects, some of which are describable by the predicate denoted by the unreduplicated noun, and some of which that are describable by a predicate similar to the bare noun in some sense, ex. ketâb 'book' ketâb metâb 'books and similar things'. Using a variety of semantic environments and contexts, I argue that this non-uniformity inference is not entailed by reduplication, but rather arises as a (higher-order) scalar implicature.
Alternating conj/disjunctions: the case of Japanese -toka and -tari (w/ Ryoichiro Kobayashi) Handout Paper
Handout from a talk at Sinn und Bedeutung 22. The Japanese particles -toka and -tari are used in unembedded contexts to denote non-exhaustive conjunctions of nominal and verbal expressions respectively. However, in many environments, they instead receive a non-exhaustive disjunctive interpretation. We propose an analysis of this alternation between conjunction and disjunction in a single-tier Hamblin alternative semantics, and derive the interpretation of -toka and -tari through an interaction between the sets of alternatives they generate and the semantics of the environment in which they appear.
A labeling approach to constraints on coordinate structure syntax Paper
In this paper, I propose a unified analysis of two robust constraints on coordinate structure syntax, Conjunct Constraint (Ross 1967) and the Coordination of Like Categories Constraint (Schachter 1977), by means of the Labeling Algorithm as conceived of by Chomsky (2013), in particular by treating coordinate structures as effectively XP-YP structures that can be labeled by the category features that they share. Given a dynamic definition of maximal projections, the immobility of individual conjuncts follows from the restriction that only maximal projections may move (Rizzi 2015).