Hadas Kotek

Affiliation: 
NYU
Talk Title: 
Movement and alternatives don’t mix: A new look at wh-intervention effects
Event Type: 
Colloquium
Semester: 
Fall 2017
Date: 
Friday, October 20, 2017, 3:30 pm
Location: 
SAC 305

In this talk I argue that the two key modes of scope-taking provided by the Grammar---movement and Alternative Semantics---are fundamentally incompatible with one another. Based on data from intervention effects in English and Japanese (Hoji 1985; Beck 1996, 2006; Pesetsky 2000; among others), I show that movement cannot target a region in the structure in which focus alternatives are being computed. Instead, movement must target a position above or below such regions, or another scope-taking mechanism must be used. I propose that this restriction on the grammar of scope-taking is the result of a logical problem with Predicate Abstracting over regions of alternative computation. This problem is noted in Rooth's (1985) seminal work introducing the theory of alternatives, and in later work such as Poesio 1996; Hagstrom 1998; Kratzer and Shimoyama 2002; Shan 2004; Novel and Romero 2009; Ciardelli, Roelofsen, and Theiler 2017, who all attempt to correct this problem by altering one or another basic assumption about Grammar. However, the findings I observe in this talk provide an empirical argument against higher-typed and variable-free semantics, which have been proposed to avoid this theoretical incompatibility, and support for a simple-typed system with movement alongside alternative computation as scope-taking mechanisms. The proposal has far-reaching implications for how a wide array of linguistic phenomena should be modeled, including the nature of movement, quantification, subjects, focus, intensionality, and binding.