An informal discussion group for semantics and semantics-related topics open to students and faculty (no previous knowledge of semantics is required).

WHEN: Wednesday 2-3 pm

WHERE: AP&M 4218

CONTACT: Ivano Caponigro

Babbling about:
Suggested readings:



  • Organization meeting
  • Everybody: On Jeff Elman's recent CRL talk On words and dinosaur bones: Where is meaning?
  • Abstract of Elman's talk
  • Jeff and everybody else: More on Jeff Elman's recent CRL talk: On words and dinosaur bones: Where is meaning?
    Jeff is joining us for the discussion
10/24 [campus closed because of fires]  
  • Kate: Sentence-final "focus" doubling in ASL: What's really going on?
    In ASL, declarative sentences, yes/no sentences, and even wh- questions often double an element and place it in a sentence final position. For example: WHAT YOUR NAME WHAT? In the ASL literature this has been called a "focus" position, with no attention paid to what semantic or pragmatic type of focus, if any, it might have. It behaves alluringly like a cleft... so come to SemBab to hear more!
  • Laura: Information Structural Effects on Ellipsis Acceptability
    I will present results from a magnitude estimation study of verb phrase ellipsis in which effects of syntactic structure have been systematically dissociated from information structure and semantics. I'd like to test out my theoretical analysis of these results, but we can also talk about the ins and outs of designing experiments like these, if that's of interest.
  • Andy: Be locally determined!
  • Jonathan: Colorful ontology
    The starting place for this babble is that I think there are good psychophysical/metaphysical grounds for holding that color properties are constituted in terms of relations to subjects and viewing conditions. Thus, they have something like the form red for subject S in conditions C. On the other hand, color predicates in natural languages don't look like that at all; most importantly, they lack overt parameters for subjects and viewing conditions, and so fail to match up against the relational color properties in form and information. This situation leads to a number of objections against the color relationalist's ontology. The question I want to face is what semantic and pragmatic resources are available by which a relationalist might respond to these objections.
  • Jonathan: Colorful ontology: conclusions
  • Ivano: Let's go relative (embedded interrogatives and declaratives that look like relatives in Adyghe)
Alternate topic
  • Everybody: Let's focus on focus alternatives (or implicatures?)
    [send me references and material to post in advance, if you find any]

Previous SemanticsBabbles:

(last update: 11/28/2007 )