Workshop on “Proportions and Quantities”

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The workshop was part of the Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS) in Leipzig, Germany, March 4-6, 2015 (DGfS Meeting 2015)

Uli Sauerland, Stephanie Solt (ZAS Berlin)

Invited speaker:
Benjamin Spector (Paris)

Several current debates in syntax, semantics, and pragmatics concern expressions of proportion and quantity: bare numerals like “three women” and just “three”, complex numerals like “one hundred and twenty-two”, modified numerals like “at least three women” and “more than three”, pseudo-partitives “three liters of water”, and proportional quantifiers like “one third of the women”. Some of the controversial questions are the following:

  • How does the ontology of quantity and proportion scales capture granularity? (e.g. Fox & Hackl, Ling & Phil. 2006, Krifka, CSLI Publ. 2009; Solt, Lang and Ling Comp.2014)
  • What syntactic structures do numerals, modified numerals, (pseudo-)partitives, and quantity adjectives have? (e.g. Takahashi, Nat Lang Sem. 2003; Ionin & Matushansky, J o Sem. 2006; Gagnon, SALT 2013; Solt, J o Sem. 2014)
  • When and how do quantity/proportion expressions get both an upper- and lower-bounded interpretation? (e.g. Geurts & Nouwen, Lang. 2007, Cummins et al., Ling & Phil. 2012; Kennedy, Camb UP. 2013; Spector, Lang Ling Comp. 2013; Cohen &Krifka, Ling & Phil. 2014).
  • How does cross-linguistic variation in morphosyntax affect the interpretation of quantity and proportion specifications? (e.g. Chierchia, Nat. Lang. Sem. 1998; Herburger, MIT Press 2000; Bale & Khanjian, Ling. Inq. 2014)

This workshops invites contributions on syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of proportion and quantity expressions, either on the four questions mentioned or on other questions relating to the theme of proportion and quantity. We are particularly interested in research that cuts across the syntax-semantics-pragmatics boundaries. Evidence from language variation and/or formal experiments have played some role in these debates, but in both areas rapid progress seems still possible. Therefore, contributions using evidence from language variation and/or formal experiments are especially encouraged to submit.

Program (4.3.2015)

14:00 Dorothy Ahn (Harvard) & Uli Sauerland (ZAS)
Reversal of Proportional Quantifiers
14:30 Chris Cummins (Edinburgh)
The granularity of fractions
15:30 Benjamin Spector (IJN/ENS Paris)
The source of the ambiguity of numerals
16:00 Pause
16:30 Carmen Dobrovie-Sorin (Paris 7) & Ion Giurgea (Romanian Academy)
Le plus and (the) most
17:00 Dominique Blok (Utrecht)
The semantics and pragmatics of directional numeral modifiers
17:30 Chris Kennedy (Chicago)
What do comparative and superlative modifiers have to do with comparatives and superlatives?