UConn Colloquium: Bob Frank (Yale)

Prof. Bob Frank from Yale University will give a colloquium talk “Syntactic Derivation as Parallel Composition: Implications for Scope” on Oct. 10th, 2014

In the mainstream of current work in generative grammar, the syntactic derivation constructs a single representation that provides the input for both semantic and morphophonological interpretation. In this talk, I will advocate a different view, under which the representations that feed these interpretive levels are built up separately. While such a view can easily explain the existence of apparent mismatches between the two interpretive levels, it also runs the risk of overgeneration, allowing unattested mismatches between surface syntax and logical form. This concern can be put aside, however, by making use of a “synchronous” extension of the Tree Adjoining Grammar formalism (STAG) to impose a parallelism constraint on the formation of the two representations. Previous computational work provides us with a clear understanding of the limits on the formal complexity of the mappings between the parallel representations that STAG can construct. In this talk, I will demonstrate that this such formal limits also give rise to empirical advantages. Specifically, I will show that the STAG approach leads to a restrictive theory of scope (non-)transparency in clausal complementation, as well as a novel understanding of the parallelism between predicate and quantifier interpretations.