meaning sciences club

We are a discussion group at Berkeley focused on semantics and related topics in syntax, pragmatics, logic, cognitive science, and the philosophy of language. The group is organized by Seth Yalcin (philosophy) and Line Mikkelsen (linguistics).

The group mailing list is Berkeley affiliates can subscribe through CalMail. Others can join the list by going here. For further information contact Seth Yalcin

upcoming talks

Thursday, September 19, 2019
Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford, CSLI)
Ad-nominal Epistemic Adverbs Without Hidden Structure
234 Moses Hall, 12:30-2pm


Epistemic modal adverbs semantically compose with expressions of propositional type, but in addition to their regular clausal positions, they can also attach syntactically to DPs (Ernst 1983). As ad-nominal modifiers, epistemic adverbs give rise to an existential entailment (Bogal-Allbritten 2013): while (1) is consistent with John visiting no place, (2) entails that John visited some place. However, when they modify a DP within a coordinate structure (Collins conjunction, Collins 1988), the existential entailment disappears: (3) is consistent with John visiting no place other than Paris.

(1) Perhaps, John visited London during the summer.

(2) John visited perhaps London during the summer.

(3) John visited Paris and perhaps London during the summer.

Recent work has reconciled the semantic requirement of epistemic adverbs for sentential scope with their apparent sub-sentential scope and accounted for the interpretive contrasts between (1) vs. (2) and (2) vs. (3) in terms of covert syntactic structure and structural ambiguity for Collins conjunctions (Bogal-Allbritten 2013, Bogal-Allbritten & Weir 2017). This talk presents an analysis based in event semantics which allows modal adverbs to combine with a DP and have semantic scope just over the thematic role linking the DP to the verb, relying on the flexible approach to semantic composition afforded by glue semantics (Dalrymple 1999, Gotham 2018). The analysis makes better empirical predictions than the alternatives and accounts for the absence of the existential entailment in Collins conjunctions without assuming structural or semantic ambiguity.

(Joint work with Mary Dalrymple, Dag Haug and Adam Przepiórkowski)

Thursday, November 14, 2019
Virginia Dawson (Berkeley linguistics)
234 Moses Hall, 12:30-2pm



previous talks

Wednesday, May 15, 2019:
Polly Jacobson (Brown)
Direct Compositionality and Variable Free Semantics: The Case of 'MaxElide'
1229 Dwinelle Hall, 3-4:30pm

Friday, April 13, 2018:
Amy Rose Deal (Berkeley) 
Compositional Paths to De Re
1303 Dwinelle Hall, 3-4:30pm

Friday, April 20, 2017:
Ethan Jerzak (Berkeley)
Two Ways to Want
1303 Dwinelle Hall, 3-4:30pm

Thursday, August 24, 2017:
Daniel Rothschild (University College London)
Probabilistic Context Updates
234 Moses Hall, 12:00pm-1:30pm

Friday, April 14, 2017:
Cian Dorr (NYU)
Conditionals, Closeness, and Probability
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm-2pm

Saturday, May 6, 2017:
Barbara Partee (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)
The Intertwining Influences of Logic, Philosophy, and Linguistics in the Development of Formal Semantics and Pragmatics
105 Northgate Hall, 11am-12:20pm

November 3, 2016
David Plunkett (Dartmouth)
Clinic: Metalinguistic Negotiation
234 Moses Hall, 4:30pm-6pm

Weekend March 12-13, 2016: 
Meaning Sciences Workshop 2

March 11, 2016: 
William Starr (Cornell)
Force and Conversational States
234 Moses Hall, 5pm

December 22, 2015: 
Ezra Keshet (Michigan)
Imperatives Under and Over Conjunction 
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm-4pm

November 19, 2015: 
Jessica Rett (UCLA)
Attitude Markers and Sincerity Conditions in an Update Semantics 
3401 Dwinelle Hall, 4pm-5:30PM

April 24, 2015: 
Zoltan Gendler Szabo (Yale)
Semantic Explanations
234 Moses Hall, 4pm-5:30PM

Dec 2, 2014: 
Richard Lawrence (Berkeley)
Three Analyses of Specificational Sentences
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Oct 14, 2014:
Yael Sharvit (UCLA) 
Sequence of Tense: Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Sept 30, 2104:
Melissa Fusco (Berkeley)
Deontic Disjunction
234 Moses Hall, 2:30pm - 4pm

Apr 28, 2014:
Daniel Rothschild (UCL) 
Epistemic Contradictions
1229 Dwinelle Hall, 12:30-2pm

Mar 8-9, 2014:
Conference: Metasemantics (joint with CSMN) 
Howison Library, Moses Hall

Feb 24, 2014: 
Ryan Bochnak (Berkeley) 
Degree achievements in a degree-less language
3401 Dwinelle Hall, 12:30-2pm

Dec 3, 2013:
Cleo Condoravdi (Stanford)
The Ingredients of Anankasticity
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

Nov 5, 2013: 
Donka Farkas (Santa Cruz)
Assertions, Polar Questions, and the Land In Between
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

Oct 1, 2013:
Chris Potts (Stanford) 
Conversational implicature: interacting with grammar
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

April 8, 2013: 
Seth Yalcin (Berkeley)
Epistemic Modality De Re
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm

March 18, 2013: 
Ethan Nowak (Berkeley)
Non-Deictic Complex Demonstratives
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Feb 25, 2013: 
Peter Jenks (Berkeley) 
Clinic: Quantifier Raising
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Feb 11, 2013: 
Herman Cappelen (St. Andrews)
The Philosophical (in)Significance of Indexicality and the First Person
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Nov 13, 2012:
Thomas Icard (Stanford) 
Wesley Holliday (Berkeley)
Logic, Probability, and Epistemic Modality
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Oct 16, 2012: 
Line Mikkelsen (Berkeley)
Some Observations about Sameness, Identity and Comparison
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm


Sept 11, 2012:
Michael Rieppel (Berkeley)
Shifty Definites
234 Moses Hall, 12:30pm - 2pm