CUNY Syntax Supper: Itamar Kastner (NYU)

SEP 17, 2013 | 6:30 PM TO 8:30 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




September 17, 2013: 6:30 PM-8:30 PM





Some interesting syntactic behavior has been identified when a clause is embedded under verbs like know or remember, which are traditionally termed "factive." For one, these verbs are weak islands, allowing only complements to be extracted from the clause. Another factivity puzzle is that argument fronting in the embedded clause is by and large impossible.

I draw here on novel evidence from English, Hebrew, Greek, Persian and American Sign Language to make the following claims. Firstly, factivity is not actually what's at issue here: even nonfactive verbs like agree and deny pattern with factive verbs. The relevant class is better off called presuppositional. Next, I argue that such verbs embed a silent definite determiner, leading us to an analysis of the existing puzzles. The idea is that verbs taking a definite element (DP) can be presuppositional, but verbs that take a proposition (CP) are not; the selectional properties of the matrix verb thus determine whether an embedded clause is presupposed.

We continue by discussing how complements of the same verb can be interpreted differently depending on whether they are an individual (DP) or a proposition (CP). As a last step, we extend the discussion to sentential subjects, deriving some existing generalizations regarding their nominalhood and factivity.

We end with some speculation regarding the grammatical function of sentential subjects in English and other languages.

All are welcome - please do come!

The CUNY Syntax Supper is a series of biweekly talks on syntax and its interfaces with semantics and morphology, given by students, faculty, and visiting scholars, usually from institutions in the greater Metropolitan area.

Syntax Suppers are held in room 7102 at the Graduate Center on Tuesday evenings, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Syntax Suppers are an ideal opportunity for speakers to present and discuss results of their ongoing research in an informal setting.