We invite abstracts for 30 minute talks (plus 10 minutes discussion) that address the topic of semantic variation, particularly from the perspective of the questions listed below.
The goal of uncovering systematic principles governing crosslinguistic variation has been pursued much more vigorously in the study of form (syntax, phonology, morphology) than of meaning. Recently, the semantics community has seen a reinvigorated interest in the question of crosslinguistic variation. This workshop aims to contribute to this reinvigoration. We invite work in crosslinguistic formal semantics focusing on the following interrelated topics:
- The relation between semantic and morphosyntactic variation. Is there variation in the semantic component of grammar? Matthewson (2001) suggests the possibility of a negative answer, according to which morphosyntactic variation in the form of quantificational noun phrases reveals facts about the universal semantics of quantificational determiners, obscured by the morphosyntax of English. In contrast, Chierchia (1998) tries to derive morphosyntactic variation in the expression of nominal arguments from a semantic theory of the possible denotations of lexical nouns. Can systematic patterns of crosslinguistic variation in morphosyntax be explained as rooted in semantic variation?
- Assuming there is variation in the semantic component of grammar, what are its loci? For example, do languages differ in:
- how a universal inventory of model theoretic components is mapped into lexical items?
- the ontological categories they employ?
- the modes of semantic combination they employ?
- the way in which lexically encoded inferential information is expressed (e.g. presupposition vs. assertion)?