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Biolinguistic Conference on Interface Asymmetries

Our department will host a Biolinguistic Conference on Interface Asymmetries on November 10-12, 2017, organized by Anna Maria Di Sciullo (UQAM/NYU). Abstracts should be sent to biolinguistics@uqam.ca by June 18, 2017.

According to the Strong Minimalist Thesis (Chomsky 2001 et seq.), language is an optimal solution to interface conditions, in that language is an optimal way to link sound and meaning. There is a significant asymmetry between the semantic interface, the system of thought, and the sensorimotor interface externalizing it, the first having primacy. This conference targets the asymmetry between these two interfaces, both generated by a binary syntactic combinatorial operation.

In addition to the main program, a workshop on Unpronounced elements at the interfaces will be held within the conference. Recent work has shown that empty elements are pervasive in natural language syntax. In addition to well-known phenomena of movement copies, ellipsis and null pronouns, lexical and functional categories such as prepositions, articles and verbs are often unpronounced. For example, in English there are strong reasons to believe that (1a) should be analyzed in terms of a null preposition as shown in (1b):

(1)
a. John went there.
b. John went TO there.

This workshop targets the implications of these empty elements for the interfaces. What role do they play in morphology? What determines whether some word or morpheme is pronounced? What role do they play in the semantic interpretation? What do they tell us about human cognition?

The conference will also host a roundtable on Variation in functional categories, targeting a deeper understanding of language variation in the structure and the pronunciation of their constitutive elements.

Invited Speakers:
Gennaro Chierchia (Harvard U.)
Chris Collins (NYU)
Danny Fox (MIT)
Richard Kayne (NYU)
Richard Larson (Stony Brook)
Tom Leu (UQAM)
Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (U. of Arizona)
Hilda Koopman (UCLA)
Roberta D’Alessandro (U. of Leiden)
Ivona Kucerova (U. of Manitoba)
Anna Szabolcsi (NYU)
Anna Maria Di Sciullo (UQAM/NYU)