- Non-canonical questions across Slavic. In preparation. B. Gehrke and R. Simik (eds.), The Semantics of Slavic Languages. Language Science Press.
- The metasemantics of taste: An argument from 'de re' and main-predicate position (with P. Anand). Under review in Lingustics and Philosophy. Please email for a copy.
This paper focuses on the interpretation of Predicates of Personal Taste (PPT) in attitude reports. As rst noticed by Stephenson (2007b,a), the most prominent reading of embedded PPTs is one where they talk about the attitude holder’s taste judgment. As is remarked sometimes (Sæbø 2009; Pearson 2013a), this reading is not the only one: embedded PPTs may also talk about someone else’s, non-local, taste judgment. We concentrate precisely on such cases. First, we show that non-local judgment is only possible for PPTs used outside main predicate position when the entire DP is read de re. Second, we argue that these less-studied data present a problem for a range of theories that deal with PPTs: some of them overgenerate and some undergenerate. Out of the currently available theories only ones that bundle judges and worlds together (or have no judges at all) predict the right interpretation. The paper thus formulates a constraint that has to be accounted for within any theory of PPTs without taking sides in the ongoing debate on the right analysis of such expressions.
- The embedding puzzle: Constraints on evidentials in complement clauses. Under review in Linguistic Inquiry. Please email for a copy.
Languages vary in whether evidentials can appear in attitudinal complements. In some languages, e.g. Georgian (South Caucasian; Boeder 2000), syntactic embedding of evidentials is possible, while in some others, e.g. Abkhaz (Northwest Caucasian; Chirikba 2003), it is not. The semantic literature largely views the variation in embeddability of evidentials as evidence for the semantic heterogeneity of evidentiality as a category. I show that even though (non-)embeddability is a matter of cross-linguistic variation, it is not a case of genuine semantic variation in evidentiality. Drawing on data from Turkish, where evidentials can appear in tensed but not in nominalized complements, I propose that restrictions on embedding of evidentials are due to the syntax of clausal complementation. I put forth the following generalization: evidentials are embeddable only in those languages that have such complements that have enough structural space to host them.
- Preference for single events guides perception in Russian: A phoneme restoration study (with J. Harris). In press. Proceedings of the 54th meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society.
Given that sentences often underdetermine event construal, how do lan- guage users associate event representations with strings? One possibility is that the human language sentence processing system constructs a sin- gle event unless the context or grammar suggests otherwise. We present evidence that the perception of complex predicates in Russian is influenced by a general preference for a single event construal. In essence, perceivers are biased to resolve distorted speech towards a single event interpreta- tion when grammatically licensed. In this study, we used the phonemic restoration method to explore how a single event preference would affect the restoration of the conjunction morpheme, which disambiguates between two structures with different event profiles.
- Acquaintance content and obviation (with P. Anand). 2018. U. Sauerland and S. Solt (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 22, ZAS, Berlin.
This paper is about what Ninan (2014) (following Wollheim 1980) calls the Acquaintance Inference (AI): a firsthand experience requirement imposed by several subjective expressions such as Predicates of Personal Taste (PPTs) (delicious). In general, one is entitled to calling something delicious only upon having tried it. This requirement can be lifted, disappearing in scope of elements that we will call obviators. The paper investigates the patterns of AI obviation for PPTs and similar constructions (e.g., psych predicates and subjective attitudes). We show that the cross-constructional variation in when acquaintance requirements can be obviated presents challenges for previous accounts of the AI (Pearson 2013, Ninan 2014). In place of these, we argue for the existence of two kinds of acquaintance content: (i) that of bare PPTs; and (ii) that of psych predicates, subjective attitudes and overt experiencer PPTs. For (i), we propose that the AI arises from an evidential restriction that is dependent on a parameter of interpretation which obviators update. For (ii), we argue that the AI is a classic presupposition. We model both (i) and (ii) using von Fintel and Gillies’s (2010) framework for directness and thus connect two strands of research: that on PPTs and that on epistemic modals. Both phenomena are sensitive to a broad direct-indirect distinction, and analyzing them along similar lines can help shed light on how natural language conceptualizes evidence in general.
- Evidentials and (relayed) speech acts: Hearsay as quotation. 2017. Evidentials and (relayed) speech acts: Hearsay as quotation. S. D'Antonio, M. Moroney, and C.R. Little (eds.), Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory 25, 676–694. [paper]
This paper is devoted to what I will call quotative uses of hearsay evidentials, wherein they report a speech act made by a third party. Occasionally mentioned in the typological literature, quotative uses were first given a formal semantic account by Faller 2002 and have received little attention since. The goal of this paper is to put the spotlight on them. An ongoing debate in the literature is on the semantic status of evidentials and the place of evidentiality among other categories (see Matthewson 2012 and references therein). For Faller (2002, 2007), quotative uses are among the empirical tests that diagnose illocutionary evidentials, ones that deal with the structure of speech acts. In this paper, I re-implement Faller's original proposal within Krifka's (2014) framework that provides an explicit syntax-pragmatics interface. I then show that quotative readings may be the only argument, out of the currently provided in the literature, in favor of the existence of illocutionary evidentials. However, the status of such readings requires further research. I conclude by discussing quotative uses within a broader context of reported speech strategies.
- Disagreement with evidentials: A call for subjectivity. 2016. Disagreement with evidentials: A call for subjectivity. J. Hunter, M. Simons and M. Stone (Eds.), JerSem: The 20th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue, 65-75. [paper]
Across languages, grammatical evidentials (linguistic expressions of information source) exhibit the property of non-challengeability: they resist direct denial in dialogues. The literature attributes this property to the not- at-issue status of the information contributed by evidentials. I argue against this view and show that with respect to disagreement, evidentials pattern with subjective expressions such as first-person belief and pain reports. Like other subjective expressions and unlike e.g. appositives, evidentials ban all kinds of disagreement about content and not just explicit denial. This novel observation has no account in the literature. It falls out naturally once a theory of evidentiality incorporates subjectivity. It is thus unnecessary to appeal to a special discourse status of evidentials to explain their behavior in conversations.
- Evidentials in attitudes: do's and dont's. 2015. Evidentials in attitudes: do's and dont's. E. Csipak and H. Zeijlstra (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 19, 340–357. [paper]
This paper is devoted to evidentials in attitudinal complements. I start with two empirical observations. A. Some logically possible interpretations are systematically not attested for evidentials-in-attitudes. This new observation has no straightforward account in the current literature. B. Languages vary with respect to whether or not evidentials-in-attitudes shift, i.e. whether they are speaker-oriented (as in root declaratives) or not. The variation has been previously attributed to the semantic non-uniformity of evidentials. I argue against this view. To account for A, I propose that evidentials are self-ascriptions, which is additionally motivated by their behavior in matrix clauses. To account for B, I propose that evidential shift is an instance of indexical shift driven by a monster operator a la (Anand and Nevins 2004), which explains previously unnoticed similarities in restrictions on both kinds of shift. Understanding what happens in attitude reports has often been key to the semantics of many phenomena, e.g. pronouns and modals. Offering the first systematic examination of evidentials-in-attitudes across languages, the paper makes a case for evidentials and broadens our understanding of perspective-sensitivity in general.
- On alleged wh-scope marking in Russian. 2012. On alleged wh-scope marking in Russian. N. Arnett and R. Benett (eds.), Proceedings of West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics 30, 205–215. [paper]
The paper explores a Russian two-clausal construction that was previously argued to instantiate wh-scope marking. I examine a range of syntatic and semantic properties of this construction and show that it is far from canonical scope marking, though might look similar. I refute the scope marking analysis as it fails to predict and explain certain restrictions and propose an alternative approach, wherein the construction in question is a parenthetical that triggers a Potssian conventional implicature. This proposal helps to grasp restrictions intrinsic to Russian and broadens the typology of scope marking and similar looking phenomena.
- Affix ordering in polysynthesis: Evidence from Adyghe (with Y. Lander). 2010. Affix ordering in polysynthesis: Evidence from Adyghe. Morphology 20(2): 229-319. [paper]
This article deals with the order of verbal suffixes in Adyghe, a polysynthetic language of the Caucasus. Traditionally the structure of the Adyghe wordform and the order of its affixes were described in terms of template morphology. However, we present new data demanding another, substantially different approach. We demonstrate that for the most part suffix ordering within the Adyghe verb follows strictly compositional rules. This feature is a manifestation of the polysynthetic nature of the language.