This week’s syntax-semantics meeting will not take place on Friday, but instead on Wednesday, February 22nd at 12pm in room 117. Katya will present joint work with Anastasia Tsilia (MIT), “Why would you D that? On D-layer in Greek clausal subjects”.

Abstract: In some languages, clausal subjects obligatorily have an overt DP element, like a definite article or a demonstrative, preceding them (henceforth D-layer). Researchers posit that the D-layer is essential for the clause to become a subject, as only DPs can occupy Spec, TP (Hartmann 2012, Kastner 2015). These facts have been argued to hold across many languages, including Greek. However, a more intricate examination of Greek clausal subjects shows that the D-layer is not always necessary.

In this talk we argue that the distribution of the D-layer in Greek clausal subjects is not governed by syntactic considerations, contrary to previous claims in the literature; rather, it is determined on the basis of semantics and pragmatics. We propose that the D-layer in clausal subjects introduces a presupposition that the proposition it modifies is consistent with the beliefs of the speaker. We then show that the semantics we propose for the D-layer along with additional pragmatic considerations accounts for its context-dependent distribution in Greek.