Zoltan in Sinn und Bedeutung

Last week Zoltan participated in the Sinn und Bedeutung 23, which took place in the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in September 5-7, 2018. Sinn und Bedeutung is one of the most important conferences on formal semantics in the world and was particularly competitive this year.

foto de la UAB

In addition to chairing one session, Zoltan presented the talk called “Not all state nominalizations are mass nouns”, in which he argues against the standard analysis according to which there is a mapping from atelicity onto the mass domain. On the basis of certain specific data in Spanish that have gone unnoticed in the literature so far, he claims that the requirement for predicative bases to form mass nominalizations is that they must be gradable rather than atelic.

“It was a pleasure to meet again my colleagues and friends of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. This type of conferences promote the linguistic debate at a high level in an ideal atmosphere in which not only professors, but also students, feel comfortable enough to share their ideas. Special thanks to the organizers for making that possible”.

Social meaning in Paris

At the beginning of July, Katie went to Sociolinguistic, Psycholinguistic and Formal Perspectives on Social Meaningin Paris, organised by Heather Burnett and Judith Degen. There, Katie presented joint work with Elena and local friend Augustín Vicente with a talk entitled ‘On the social meaning of stereotypes: A comparison in the realm of expressives’. This work investigates the differences between slurs and what we call ‘ESTIs’ (Ethnic/Social Terms used as Insults) in European Spanish. ESTIs are a particular type of word which have both a neutral, denotational use, and an insulting use which capitulates on stereotypes of the respective group; interestingly, the insulting use (ESTI) can only be used for people outside of the ethnic or social group. Examples we’ve found include portera‘doorwoman’, which is used for targets perceived as lazy gossips, and gitan@ ‘gipsy’, which can be used for people perceived as scamming or liars. [Note: we do not endorse these stereotypes of the social groups.]

The workshop itself was very interesting, with lively discussion and a fun social programme. Some highlights included Elin McCready’s work on Honorification and Norms, Sunwoo Jeong’s work on the social meaning of rising declaratives, and Teresa Pratt’s discussion of the social meaning of interactional moments, where she reported on sociolinguistic data collected during her PhD. Thanks for great organisation, Heather and Judith!


Katie in Belgium


Last week, Katie went to Brussels to give a talk in the CRISSP research seminar. Her talk described the latest developments of her dissertation work: the grammaticalisation of posture verbs in English and how the semantics of the locative use interacts with aspect. She reported her most recent corpus data and proposed the beginnings of a theory about the differences between ‘to sit’ and ‘to lie’ when they are used with inanimate subjects. Thanks to the audience for really helpful feedback!

Also in Belgium: Katie  was able to attend a lecture series by Bronwyn M. Bjorkman. The lectures were about tense from a morphosyntactic and semantic perspective. Bronwyn is a very good teacher and she presented the various puzzles of tense in an interesting way. Overall very enjoyable! During the week, Katie and her co-author Cora had the chance to talk to Bronwyn about their work on the grammaticalisation of Dutch and Afrikaans posture verbs (+ the motion verb ‘to walk’), more specifically on their use as aspectual markers in the periphrastic progressive. Bronwyn gave them some nice suggestions for future avenues. Thanks for a nice week in Brussels!




MEAT in Cambridge

Bridge of Sighs, CAMBRIDGE

Katie was in Cambridge for a few sunny days, representing MEAT at CamCos 7. She presented joint work with Cora Pots (KU Leuven) on aspectual markers in Dutch and Afrikaans periphrastic progressive constructions. Their corpus data has shown that the more grammaticalised the marker is, the more likely it also encodes an evaluative component concerning the lexical verb’s eventuality. The particularly interesting aspectual markers are the motion verb ‘walk’ and core posture verbs ‘sit’/’stand’/’lie’. Although the conference is mainly a syntactic audience, they received a lot of interesting and positive feedback!

Philosophising in Vitoria-Gasteiz

Local friends Agustín Vicente and Marta Jorba organised a workshop on Language and Mind, so that members of HiTT (the UPV/EHU theoretical linguistics group) and LOGOS (the analytical philosophy research group at the University of Barcelona) can get together and share ideas.

WhatsApp Image 2018-03-16 at 17.26.55Amid philosophy talks, Katie gave a linguistic talk about the polysemy of posture verbs. Marta discussed the ontology of predicates like understand and see/watch, and how lexical aspect plays a big role there. Marina, another local PhD student, presented a proposal on how to formalise copredication constructions, with a modification on a previous proposal of Pustojevsky. The friends from Barcelona talked about a range of topics, from information theory and signalling theory, to personal identity and experience vs. bodily ownership. Very interesting to hear about topics one might not usually (think to) think about. 🙂


Looking forward to future meetings like this!

MEAT dgfs-ing again!

This year’s annual Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft (DGfS) was held in the south, in Stuttgart. Both Berit and Katie presented. Berit’s talk was in Workshop 8, “Reference beyond the DP” and discussed anaphoric reference in Russian (joint work with fellow SIGGRAM-er Olga Borik). Kristine Bentzen and Marcin Morzycki were the invited speakers. Marcin’s talk was especially interesting: he discussed possible solutions to a puzzle of modification conjunction, such as in Donald is ignorant and unpleasant, and his son even more so (i.e., the question is how to deal with the scales involved here).


Katie’s was in Workshop 3, “Evaluative Semantics”, organised by Patrick Grosz and Valentina Bianchi. She presented a talk on scalarity in the swarm alternation (joint work with Daniel Hole). The invited speakers were Andrea Beltrama and Farah Benerama. The workshop was a really nice one, with good discussion and an overall good atomosphere. Stand-out talks were by Elsi Kaiser, who discussed experiments concerning evaluations and how these differ depending on sensory domain and Peter Alrenga, who analysed two different kinds of `at least’.  Also: since Katie did her MA at Stuttgart, she knows the organiser, and got involved in type-setting the conference booklet. Let’s just say she knows a lot more about LaTeX now!

Event semantics: Advent Workshop

After Oslo–and a snow-delay–Katie stopped in Cologne for a workshop on event semantics, organised by Carla Umbach and Stefan Hinterwimmer at Universität zu Köln . There she presented a new version of the work she’d presented in Zurich and Lagodekhi, about locative subjects in an English change-of-state construction, and received a lot of good feedback. With this feedback, she’ll hopefully be able to start writing it all down. 😉


The invited speaker was Alte Grønn, who told us about viewpoint from a slavic perspective. Other speakers were mainly from German universities, and included Jens Fleischhauer & Thomas Gamerschlag on scalarity and telicity in fictive motion, Frauke Buscher on whether sound emission verbs can be analysed as motion verbs, and Katja Gobrovska on the German adverb sorgfältig. And although there were no Christmas market visits, the participants enjoyed some of the famous, tiny Kölsch beers. 😉