February 29 - March 2, 2008                                                              Readings
Harvard University

*** Audio recordings (MP3) of all talks now available on the Program page ***

The Workshop on Markedness and Underspecification in the Morphology and Semantics of Agreement (MUMSA) will bring together researchers from two disciplinary areas of Linguistics (Morphology and Semantics) and from typological and formalist backgrounds, who are united by both their object of study (the categorizations underlying agreement) and their approach (appeal to competition via underspecification), but who in practice have little opportunity for cross-pollination. The workshop will make steps towards filling the voids among these exciting research domains.

Jonathan Bobaljik (Univ. Connecticut)
Andrew Nevins (Harvard Univ.)
Uli Sauerland (ZAS, Berlin)

Significant advances have been made in the understanding of both the morphology and semantics of agreement in recent years. For example, the last five years have seen, on the one hand, the publication of new treatments of the range of variation in the morphological expression of person marking (esp. work by M. Cysouw), and on the other, some of the first new discoveries about the formal semantics of personal pronouns and person agreement (especially work by Heim, Kratzer, Sauerland and others). Yet the results of the two disciplinary areas have been largely isolated from one another, in part as a result of the increasing degree of sub-specialization within the field. MUMSA will provide for a balance of speakers representing morphology and semantics, typology and formal theory. Roughly two-thirds of the speakers are invited participants, selected from the cutting edge in each area. The workshop will have a presentation + invited commentary format to ensure the highest level of integration among the invited participants. Additional talks are selected by refereed abstract.

Topics for investigation include but are not limited to:
  • markedness (in form versus in meaning)
  • person (evidence for or against categories such as "participant" and "3/other")
  • number (morphologically, there is near consensus in treating singular as unmarked with respect to plural, yet in the semantic literature, there is growing evidence for the opposite relationship, see Sauerland et. al. 2005)
  • gender (the legacy of Jakobson's view of the feminine:masculine contrast)
  • entailment relations among features (morphological and semantic evidence) and the related question of a feature geometry
  • hierarchies (person, number, the question of a markedness reversal 2>1 in Algonquian agreement systems)
Invited Speakers:
Susana Bejar (Univ. Toronto)
Andrea Calabrese (Univ. Connecticut)
Gennaro Chierchia (Harvard Univ.)
Greville Corbett (Univ. Surrey)
Michael Cysouw (Max Planck, Leipzig)
Daniel Harbour (Queen Mary's. London)
Angelika Kratzer (UMass Amherst)
Orin Percus (Univ. Nantes)
Louisa Sadler (Univ. Essex)
Kenneth J. Safir (Rutgers Univ.)

MUMSA is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Provostial Funds Committee, Harvard University, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.