Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Department Colloquium, March 30

Date: March 30, 2009
Time: 3:30 - 4:30
Venue: C2033
Authors: Phil Branigan and Doug Wharram

Title: Distributive semantics in Innu-aimun

Indefinite nouns are interpreted distibutively when they co-vary with a higher plural or quantificational phrase, as in the English sentence "Those camels have 2 humps each." (The humps is understood as a set of objects distributed over the set of camels because it is followed by the word each.) In Innu-aimun, a similar semantic effect on indefinite nouns occurs when they are accompanied by a reduplicated numeral. We describe when these reduplicated forms can and cannot occur, and try to make sense of their grammatical properties by developing a formal semantic analysis. We show that this new approach compares favorably with previous attempts to analyse similar distributive reduplication structures in some other languages (Cree and Hungarian), and discuss what this implies for semantic theory more generally.

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