Spring 2018


  • A weekly informal discussion group at UC San Diego on theoretical and experimental aspects of semantics and related areas such as its interface with syntax, pragmatics, and philosophy of language
  • Open to any students and faculty
  • Supported by an award from the UC San Diego Institute of Arts & Humanities


  • Speakers are asked to prepare a talk that is no longer than 45/50 mins and send a title as early as possible, but at least one week before the talk.
  • An abstract of the talk and suggestions for background readings are welcome.
  • Speakers are fully free to choose among the following 4 presentation options

    1. Full talk without interruptions except for few brief, specific, crucial clarification questions
    2. First 30 mins of the talk without interruptions except for few brief, specific, crucial clarification questions
    3. First 15 mins of the talk without interruptions except for few brief, specific, crucial clarification questions
    4. The talk can be interrupted with questions any time

WHEN: Tuesday 11 am - 12:30 pm

WHERE: AP&M 4218 (map)

CONTACT: Ivano Caponigro & Jonathan Cohen

Babbling about


  • Nathan Klinedinst (University College London, linguistics)
    Indefinites and Identity

    [Faculty host: Paolo Santorio]

Relevant references:

  • Compact introduction to all the relevant material here
  • Heim, Irene. 1983. “File Change Semantics and the Familiarity Theory of Definiteness.” In Meaning, Use, and Interpretation of Language, edited by Christoph Schwarze Rainer Bäuerle and Arnim von Stechow. Walter de Gruyter.
  • Groenendijk, Jeroen, Martin Stokhof, and Frank Veltman. 1996. “Coreference and Modality.” In Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory, edited by Shalom Lappin. Blackwell.
  • Ivano Caponigro (UC San Diego, linguistics)
    Functional free relatives: Evidence from Romanian
  • Michela Ippolito (University of Toronto, linguistics)
    Varieties of Sobel sequences

    [Faculty host: Ivano Caponigro]
  • Dave Barner (UC San Diego, psychology & linguistics)
    Access to non-monogamous alternatives (in language comprehension)
  • Dan Lassiter (Stanford University, linguistics)
    Complex antecedents and probabilities in causal counterfactuals

    ABSTRACT: Ciardelli, Zhang, & Champollion (in press at L&P) point out an empirical problem for theories of counterfactuals based on maximal similarity or minimal revision involving negated conjunctions in the antecedent. They also show that disjunctions and negated conjunctions behave differently in counterfactual antecedents, and propose an attractive solution that combines Inquisitive Semantics with a theory of counterfactuals based on interventions on causal models (Pearl 2000). This paper describes several incorrect empirical predictions of the resulting account, which point to a very general issue for interventionist theories: frequently the antecedent does not give us enough information to choose a unique intervention. The problem applies also to indefinites and to the negation of any non-binary variable. I argue that, when there are multiple ways of instantiating a counterfactual antecedent, we prefer scenarios that are more likely given probabilistic causal knowledge. A theory is proposed which implements this idea while preserving Ciardelli et al.'s key contributions.

    [Faculty host: Paolo Santorio]

Relevant readings:

  • Brief end-of-the-year brainstorming (11-11:20)
  • Roman Feiman (UC San Diego, psychology)
    Priming quantifier scope: Reexamining the evidence against scope inversion
  • End-of-the-year lunch (from 12:30 pm on; all the Babblers are welcome)



Useful links



Previous SemanticsBabbles:

(last update: 06/20/2018 )