We are very happy to announce the next talk in our syntax colloquium this term. Viola Schmitt (Wien) will talk about “Distributive conjunctions and plurality — two cross-linguistic asymmetries”, presenting joint work with Nina Haslinger (Göttingen), Eva Rosina (Vienna), Magdalena Roszkowski (Budapest) and Valerie Wurm (Vienna). The talk will take place online, please see the information below on how to participate.
Title: Distributive conjunctions and plurality — two cross-linguistic asymmetries
Time : 14.12.2020, 4pm
Place: Zoom (If you are not a regular member of the syntax colloquium and if you would like to listen to this talk, please contact Katharina Hartmann. You will be sent a link / ID to Zoom.)
You are all, as always, cordially invited!
We argue that the conjunctive coordinating morpheme COORD denotes a plurality-forming operation cross-linguistically and across categories. We first present two cross-linguistic generalizations which strongly suggest that the basic meaning of COORD in individual conjunctions (e.g.`Ada and Bea’) is not intersective, as in `classical’ analyses of conjunction, but rather plural-based. We then discuss the consequences of this result for `distributive’ conjunction patterns, which lack the readings usually associated with a plural semantics of conjunction when they occur in subject position. We argue that even these structures involve a `plural’ denotation of COORD because in some languages, they permit cumulative readings — a hallmark of semantic plurality — in non-subject position. Based on an empirical analogy between `distributive’ individual conjunctions and conjunctions of universal quantifiers, we argue that the former also denote quantifiers. Accordingly, the `plural’ denotation of COORD must be generalized to functional types. Since earlier attempts to do so don’t extend to our data, we provide an informal sketch of an analysis within the Plural Projection framework (Haslinger &Schmitt 2018, 2019, Schmitt 2019) that derives all our observations. Finally, we discuss the cross-linguistic predictions of our proposal for conjunctions of VPs and embedded clauses and present preliminary data supporting them.