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Conference Information

Full Title: Focus Sensitive Expressions from a Cross Linguistic Perspective
Location: Bar Ilan University, Israel
Start Date: 03-Feb-2014 - 05-Feb-2014
Contact: Yael Greenberg
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:

We are very glad to announce a workshop on Focus Sensitive Expressions
from a Cross Linguistic Perspective, organized by Yael Greenberg (Bar Ilan
university) and Malte Zimmermann (Potsdam university). The workshop is
funded by the Israel Science Foundation, with support from Bar Ilan
University, Potsdam University, the Lechter Institute and the German
Science Foundation. It will take place on the first week of February 2014
(Monday to Wednesday, 3-5.2.2014) at Bar Ilan university, Israel.

The workshop aims to examine the interpretive relation of so-called focus-
sensitive expressions and information structure (IS) from a cross-linguistic
perspective. In particular, its principal goal is to deepen our understanding of
(a) the discourse/semantic nature of such expressions (b) their association
with focus/information structure and (c) the connection between the two, by
looking at a wide range of cross-linguistic data.

An example of a theory which attempted to establish such a connection is
Beaver & Clark 2008, who proposed that exclusives (as well as additive, and
scalar particles) 'conventionally' associate with focus, since their operation
involves ordering alternatives in the QUD, whereas Qadvs show a more
indirect, 'free' association with focus. There are currently some preliminary
work supporting (some aspects of) this model, as well as some counter-
examples and opponents (e.g. Kadmon & Sevi 2011, Roberts 2011).

Among the research questions to be addressed are the following:
- Do focus/IS-sensitive expressions exhibit cross-linguistic variation in their
semantic and association behavior?

- For example, do different exclusive particles always associate
conventionally with focus, both within and across languages? Can we define
a core semantic operation for all such particles?

- Do exclusive particles and additive particles differ in their association
behavior? What about scalar particles? Do they pattern with exclusives or
with additives, or is there variation across languages?

- If so, what does this tell us about the semantic nature of these expressions
and / or about the idea that association properties can be derived from
semantics / pragmatic properties?

- Do other types of expressions (Q-adverbs, modals, proportional quantifiers,
approximatives) in other languages show the same degree of focus-
sensitivity as their English counterparts? Do the association properties of all
of them can be indeed systematically derived from their semantics?

- How to treat focus sensitive particles that are themselves focused /
stressed? How does this affect the type of alternatives they operate on? How
can this be accounted for within a Beaver & Clark style model?

- How to deal with Kadmon & Sevi’s (2011) ‘Granny’s dog’-example (see also
Roberts 2011), illustrating a distinction between association properties and
answering a QUD?

For a PDF of the program, please visit:
Linguistic Subfield: Semantics
LL Issue: 24.3829

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