This week’s syntax-semantics meeting will not take place on Friday, but instead on Wednesday, March 15th at 12pm in room 117. Bernardas will present ongoing research, “Morphosyntactic constraints on because-clause attachment”.
Abstract: In English and languages beyond, because-clause adjuncts can express two different meanings – one which modifies the matrix predicate (the causal reading), and another which provides motivation for making the utterance (the diagnostic reading). Although this difference is sharp, generative syntax has left this phenomenon largely understudied. In this presentation I argue that these meanings can be modelled in the syntax drawing on past accounts. In addition, although previous semantic-pragmatic accounts have argued that diagnostic readings involve speech act conjunction, I argue that they can also be derived through embedding under an epistemic verb such as it seems that. Experimental data show that both strategies exhibit the same acoustic correlates, lending empirical support to both of these being available strategies for speakers. In addition, data from Lithuanian shows that the availability of diagnostic readings can be constrained morphosyntactically, as demonstrated in the inferential evidential construction, lending further motivation for a syntactic account of the general phenomenon.