Barker at Joint CoCoLangCog Lab Meeting Tuesday

If you haven’t had enough abbreviations lately, there will be a joint CoCoLangCog lab meeting on Tuesday at noon in Jorday 102. Chris Barker from NYU will be giving a talk on “Evaluation order and binding in natural language”.

Order matters for quantificational binding in natural language: “Everyone^i loves his_i mother” has a reading on which the quantifier binds the pronoun, in which case the sentence expresses a general thought about filial love. But “His_i mother loves everyone^i” does not have a bound reading, and can only express a thought about a single saintly woman (this contrast is known as `crossover’). Apparently, a quantifier must precede a pronoun in some sense before it can bind the pronoun. But the relevant notion of precedence is not linear order: in “The relative of his_i that everyone^i loves the most”, the pronoun linearly precedes the quantifier, yet binding is possible. We propose that the relevant notion is *evaluation order*, and we adapt techniques from the theory of computer programming languages in order to make this notion precise and explicit. The result is a competence grammar in which it is possible to talk about the order in which expressions are processed.