Wednesday 23 September – Hadas Kotek

Speaker: Hadas Kotek (McGill University)
Title: Pervasive intervention and the architecture of grammar
Date: Wednesday 23 September
Venue: De Vrieshof 4/010
Time: 13.30-14.45 hrs (NB. Different day and time than the other lectures)

I propose a new theory of so-called ‘intervention effects’ in wh-questions which views intervention as a systemic problem that results from an attempt to compute λ-abstraction inside regions where focus alternatives are being used. That λ-abstraction is not well-defined inside regions of focus alternative computation is a known property of simple-typed semantic systems, such as the one in Heim and Kratzer (1998), dating back to the very origins of the focus system in Rooth (1985). However, until now, this problem has been ignored by most major work in semantics, or has prompted researchers to adopt a variable-free semantics or a higher-typed semantic system (e.g. Shan, 2004; Novel and Romero, 2009).

I show instead several novel patterns of intervention effects in English that suggest that intervention effects surface precisely when movement must target a position inside a region where focus alternatives are being computed, and is avoided whenever this configuration can be undone. This sheds light on the architecture of grammar: to explain intervention, we must posit a simple typed system that allows overt and covert movement alongside the projection of focus alternatives, with movement as the default mode of scope-taking in English.


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