January 27: Elizabeth Allyn Smith

The Semantics and Philosophy of Language Workshop is happy to welcome Elizabeth Allyn Smith (Northwestern) for this term’s second talk.

DATE: January 27, 2012
TIME: 11:30-1:30pm
PLACE: Gates Blake 321

Some observations, revisions, and puzzles in the semantics of comparative correlatives

Abstract: Comparative correlative sentences (CCs) like ‘the more, the merrier’ or ‘the more a dog eats, the more it drinks’ present a number of puzzles for their analysis, including the question of whether you can use the same denotation for its comparative morpheme as the one found elsewhere in natural language. Like many before me, I will argue that CCs can be given a completely compositional analysis using the ‘regular’ comparative, but I will also present new data showing that certain revisions are necessary and that, for example, the semantics of English CCs has less in common with the semantics of conditionals than previously believed. I will also pose a number of new puzzles, both for the analysis of CCs in English, and also cross-linguistically, including some current work on CCs in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Japanese.