THT

Papers

  • 2019. On the cancellation of cessation implicatures. (with Andreas Haida). In preparation. [Abstract: A past tense stative predicate usually licenses the inference that the state that predicate describes no longer obtains. However, this inference can be cancelled in certain types of questions. This squib proposes an account for this cancellation effect which is based on standard question semantics in conjunction with the assumption that interrogatives contains a speech act operator and can be exhaustified.]
  • 2019. Deriving four generalizations about nominals in three classifier languages. (with Trang Phan & Hung Phan). Submitted. [Abstract: This note presents a set of facts concerning nominal structures in Bahnar, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. It proposes an account of these facts which reduces them to cross-linguistic differences with respect to the availability of particular syntactic configurations involving the bare nouns and its extended projection. These differences, in turn, are derived from cross-linguistic variations with respect to the availability of items in the functional lexicon.]
  • 2019. Zero and L-Triviality. (with Andreas Haida). Submitted. [Abstract: We present a puzzle which arises from Bylinina & Nouwen’s (2018) theory about “zero” and plurality.]
  • 2019. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Vietnamese Linguistics. (Co-edited with Nigel Duffield and Trang Phan.) John Benjamins: Amsterdam. [This volume has its genesis in a conference “Cao Xuân Hạo and Vietnamese Linguistics”, which was organized by Hoàng Dũng and Bùi Mạnh Hùng on behalf of the Linguistics Association of Ho Chi Minh City, and held in December 2017. As the conference title makes plain, the meeting was intended to celebrate the lifetime achievements of Professor Cao Xuân Hạo, whose landmark work in many diverse areas of linguistics – phonetics, lexical-semantics, syntax, pragmatics and translation theory – established a bridge between traditional Vietnamese scholarship and contemporary theories of grammatical organization. Three of the chapters in this volume were developed from papers presented at the conference. The other contributions were solicited from researchers in Vietnamese linguistics whose work is in the spirit of Professor Hạo’s oeuvre: bringing theoretical tools and cross-linguistic considerations to bear on specific issues in Vietnamese, whilst at the same time showing how Vietnamese data can shed light on wider problems in grammatical theory.]
  • 2019. A tense question. In Making and Meaning: Snippets for Uli, edited by Andreea Nicolae, Patrick Elliot, and Yasutada Sudo.
  • 2019. On complex adjectival phrases in Standard Arabic. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics 30. (With Yahya Aldholmi & Hamid Ouali.) [Abstract: In this paper, we present three puzzling observations concerning a class of adjectival constructions in Standard Arabic: (i) pleonastic definiteness, where an instance of definite morphology is semantically transparent, (ii) required resumption, where the absence of a resumptive pronoun leads to deviance, and (iii) case and agreement misalignment, where the domain for structural case assignment does not coincide with that for agreement marking. We then propose a resolution for these puzzles. Our proposal takes seriously the idea that semantics is purely interpretive, i.e. that the truth condition of the sentence is to be computed compositionally from its syntactic structure. The proposal includes two generalizations about case and agreement which turn out to concur to a large degree with widely accepted views on syntactic relations concerning these phenomena. The generalizations are (i) that arguments of 2-place predicates receive Accusative case and arguments of one-place predicates receive Nominative case, and (ii) that sentential nodes are barriers for agreement. Another conclusion of our proposal is that indices on pronouns can undergo movement which results in predicate abstraction and which exhibit properties of A bar movement.]
  • 2019. Exhaustification and contextual restriction. Frontiers in Communication 4(47). [Abstract: This note gives a brief summary of the grammatical approach to implicatures, highlighting the perspective under which it presents an attempt at squaring empirical observations with basic principles of language use. It then raises a question about salience, a crucial but, as it turns out, quite elusive component of this approach, providing arguments that salience cannot be identified with relevance or utterance, and discussing some consequences of a stipulation on salience which shifts the empirical burden of the theory from having a clear definition of both salience and structural simplicity to having a clear definition of structural complexity alone.]
  • 2019. Interpretation of numerals under memory load by Vietnamese speakers. (with Andreas Haida & Chi Mai Luong.) In Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Vietnamese Linguistics, edited by Nigel Duffield, Trang Phan & Tue Trinh. John Benjamins: Amsterdam. [Abstract: Numerals show an ambiguity between a weak, ‘at least’ meaning and a strong, ‘exactly’ meaning. The Gricean approach takes the weak meaning to be basic and derives the strong meaning as implicature, thus assimilates numerals to other scalar items. The Fregean approach, in contrast, takes the strong meaning of numerals to be basic and derives the weak meaning via type shifting operations. This paper gives a brief summary of these two approaches, followed by a report on a dual-task experiment which is designed to test how Vietnamese speakers interpret numerals under different memory loads. The goal of this experiment is to replicate the results of Marty et al. (2013) which can be intepreted as supporting the Fregean approach. It turns out that this goal could not be achieved, and we give some speculations as to why it was not.]
  • 2019.  A case for no Ks. (with Andreas Haida). Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 23. [Abstract: We present a novel observation about modified numerals and discuss how it may pose a problem for the syntactic representation of speaker’s belief, hence the grammatical derivation of ignorance inferences.]
  • 2019. The Edginess of Silence: A Study on Chain Linearization. Berlin: De Gruyter. [Summary: Natural language differs from artificial ones in having the “displacement property,” allowing expressions to “move” from one position to another in the sentence. The mapping from syntax to phonology, therefore, must include rules specifying how objects created by movement are pronounced, or in technical jargon, how chains are linearized. One of these rules is Copy Deletion. The present study investigates the structural description of Copy Deletion. Specifically, it proposes a phrase geometric constraint on its application. The proposal is corroborated by empirical arguments based on distributional and interpretational facts concerning predicate clefts, NP-Splits, and head ordering patterns. The data are drawn from languages of different types and families including Chinese, English, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Norwegian, Swedish, and Vietnamese. The book, thus, contributes to our understanding of a crucial property of natural language and should be of relevance to readers who are interested in the cross-linguistic approach to Universal Grammar research.]
  • 2018. The Participant-Pronoun Restriction: English and Vietnamese. (with Hubert Truckenbrodt). Proceedings of the 5th NAFOSTED Conference on Information and Computer Science. [Abstract: In English and many other languages, speakers and addressees must be referred to by pronouns. However, this is not true of Vietnamese. We propose that this difference is due to a parameterization of Tanya Reinhart’s Rule I. Our proposal requires that every root clause be analyzed as containing silent syntactic materials which encode information about the perspective of the sentence.]
  • 2018. Splitting atoms in natural language. (with Andreas Haida). Manuscript, UWM. [Abstract: The cardinality analysis of numerical statements runs into problems with sentences containing non-integers such as “John read 2.5 novels.” We propose a semantics for numeral phrases which derives several observations on these sentences, and identify a number of open questions for future research.]
  • 2018. Keeping it simpleNatural Language Semantics 26. [Abstract: Breheny et al. (2017) argue against the structural approach to alternatives. The empirical force of their argument comes mostly from challenges raised against Trinh & Haida (2015). This paper aims to respond to these challenges, showing how they can be met by a natural refinement of Trinh and Haida’s proposal which turns out to capture additional facts previously not accounted for. Another aim of this paper is to recount the debate with enough precision and explicitness in order to enhance understanding and facilitate future discussions.]
  • 2017. Belief under desire. (with Luka Crnič). Manuscript. [Abstract: Embedded epistemic modals are infelicitous under desire predicates when they are anchored to the belief state of the attitude holder (see, esp., Anand and Hacquard 2013). We present two ways of deriving this observation from an independently motivated property of desire predicates, their anti-opinionatedness (Heim 1992; von Fintel 1999).]
  • 2017. When is not not not. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 24. [Abstract: Negated complements of negative implicatives in Vietnamese have a reading in which they are logically equivalent to their non-negated counterpart. We propose an analysis which predicts the distribution of such “pleonastic” occurences of negation and show that it can account for the distribution of another case of pleonasm in Vietnamese: pleonastic modals. The analysis assumes the possibility of multidominance and contains a proposal on the linearization of syntactic structure.]
  • 2016. Splitting friends, wives, and boxes of booksMIT Working Papers in Linguistics 80. [Abstract: Cross-linguistic variation with respect to the pronunciation of topicalized verbs make up most of my argument for the Edge Condition (EC), a principle of chain linearization, in Trinh (2009, 2010). In section 5 of Trinh (2009), I argue that variation within Vietnamese with respect to the pronunciation of split NPs also supports EC. After the publication of that paper, I became aware of some additional facts about NP-Split in Vietnamese, which I then discussed in chapter 3 of my dissertation. I believe these facts and my analysis of them suffice to warrant presentation in a small but self-contained contribution. The present squib, which is a contribution to a Festschrift for David Pesetsky, is a long overdue result of that belief, and I am particularly happy about its venue of publication, as David Pesetsky’s guidance and support were essential in all of my works on this topic.]
  • 2015. Constraining the derivation of alternatives (with Andreas Haida). Natural Language Semantics 23. [Abstract: Inferences that result from exhaustification of a sentence S depend on the set of alternatives to S. In this paper, we present some inference patterns that are problematic for previous theories of alternatives and propose some structural constraints on the derivation of formal alternatives which derive the observations.]
  • 2014. How to ask the obvious – A presuppositional account of evidential bias in English yes/no questions. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 71. [Abstract: English can express the basic meaning of a yes/no question in several ways, for example with or without sentential negation, and with or without subject auxiliary inversion. In this paper, we discuss how the presence of contextual clue with respect to one or the other answer to a yes/no question determines which formal variants of the question are felicitous. We then derive these syntax-pragmatics interactions from Heim’s principle of Maximize Presupposition, Stalnaker’s Bridge Principle and Grice’s Maxim of Manner, each formulated in a particular way, together with the assumption that the lexicon of English contains a silent evidential marker which exhibits familiar syntactic and semantic properties. This paper is a contribution to a Festschrift for Irene Heim.]
  • 2013. Das Vietnamesische und das Chinesische. In Das Mehrsprachige Klassenzimmer. Über die Muttersprachen unserer Schüler, edited by Manfred Krifka, Joanna Błaszczak, Annette Leßmölmann, André Meinunger, Barbara Stiebels, Rosemarie Tracy und Hubert Truckenbrodt. [This is a book chapter written in German which introduces the lay readers to some basic facts about Vietnamese and Chinese and thereby provides them with some knowledge of theoretical linguistics.]
  • 2012. Một số ghi chú về Kinh Dịch. [Một bài viết ngắn nói về hai cách đánh số quẻ trong Kinh Dịch của Văn Vương và Thiệu Ung.]
  • 2011. The rise and fall of declaratives (with Luka Crnič). Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 15. [Abstract: This paper argues for a new way of thinking about semantic and pragmatic effects of particular sentence intonation patterns. The main focus of the paper is on the so-called rising declaratives, i.e. sentences that have the surface structure of a declarative sentence but are pronounced with a rising pitch contour. Rising declaratives differ from both declaratives with a falling pitch contour and questions in their pragmatic effect. Our goal is to account for this difference. We propose that rising intonation contour is syntactically realized. Its semantic import is to determine the resolution of a variable in the speech act projection, i.e. rising intonation operates on speech acts. The pragmatic effects associated with rising declaratives are shown to follow from this minimal assumption and the independently motivated tenets of speech act theory.]
  • 2011. Nominal reference in two classifier languages. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 15. [Abstract: In this paper, we first present observations that have been made concerning the distribution and interpretation of nominals in Mandarin Chinese and propose an account for them. We will then contrast Mandarin Chinese with Vietnamese, and show that differences with respect to the syntax and semantics of noun phrases between these two languages can be reduced to the fact that they differ minimally in lexical resource. Implications of the analysis for a theory of semantic variation are also discussed.]
  • 2010. Một số khái niệm trong triết học thời kỳ đầu của Ludwig Wittgenstein. [Một bài viết ngắn mang tính đại chúng đăng trên talawas nhằm mục đích giới thiệu tác phẩm đầu tay và được xuất bản duy nhất của W.]
  • 2010. Edges and linearization – A reply. Theoretical Linguistics 36. [This is a reply to commentaries on my 2009 paper “A constraint on Copy Deletion,” Theoretical Linguistics 35, linked below.]
  • 2009. A constraint on Copy Deletion. Theoretical Linguistics 35. [Abstract: One version of the copy theory of movement holds that syntactic traces are full-fledged constituents which undergo a PF-deletion rule. In this paper, I propose a constraint on this rule. The constraint says that the lower copy of a chain can be phonologically deleted only if it ends an XP. I show that this constraint, conjoined with proposals that have been made concerning phrase structure (Chomsky 1994) and the semantics of NP in classifier languages (Chierchia 1998), explains a variety of facts in Dutch, German, Hebrew, Norwegian, Swedish and Vietnamese.]
  • 2008. Embedding imperatives. (with Luka Crnič). Proceedings of NELS 39. [This paper extends the centered world analysis of embedded epistemic modals proposed in Stephenson (2007) to account for embedded imperatives. A dissimilarity between epistemic and imperative modals in variability of modal force is accounted for by relying on Rullmann et al.’s (2008) analysis of Salish modals.]
  • 2008. Embedding imperatives in English. (with Luka Crnič). Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 13. [Abstract: Although it has generally been claimed otherwise (cf. Katz and Postal 1964, Sadock and Zwicky 1985, Palmer 1986, Rivero and Terzi 1995, Platzack and Rosengren 1998, Han 1998 among others), it holds that embedded imperatives exist in English. We describe their main characteristics and provide an account of these by relying on Schwager’s (2006) propositional analysis of imperatives, where imperatives are treated as modalized sentences. The imperative modal is thereby relativized to eventualities (cf. Hacquard 2006).]
  • 2008. Some approaches to complex demonstratives. [This is a squib written for a semantics class at MIT. It presents and compares various semantic analyses of determiner phrases headed by a demonstrative that has an NP complement.]
  • 2007. A case for no Case. Manuscript, MIT. [This is a squib written for a syntax class at MIT. It provides an explanation for several distributional in interpretational facts in Vietnamese based on the assumption that this language lacks Case/Agreement.]
  • 2007. Notes on tense interpretation. Manuscript, MIT. [This is a squib written for a semantics class at MIT. It presents the pros and cons of two theories of tense interpretation: the Priorian theory and Kusumoto (2005), and argues that the Priorian theory is empirically more adequate. However, that theory as such is not able to predict the later-than-matrix reading in adjunct clauses. A tentative solution is proposed which makes use of the idea that semantic interpretation proceeds cyclically.]
  • 2006. An analysis of transitive resultatives. Manuscript, MIT. [This is a squib written for a syntax class at MIT and later presented at the Maryland-MIT-Harvard-UMass-UConn Workshop in Formal Linguistics (ECO5). It proposes an analysis for transitive resultatives in Vietnamese and extends this analysis to English, thereby explaining some properties of English TRs. A major difference between English and Vietnamese is suggested to reduce to the fact that in English, [+EPP] on T must be satisfied by a DP, whereas in Vietnamese, an XP of any category can satisfy this feature.]
  • 2005. Aspects of Clause Structure in Vietnamese. Magisterarbeit, Humbold-Universität zu Berlin. [Zusammenfassung: In dieser Arbeit wird die Syntax zweier Satztypen des modernen Vietnamesischen untersucht: des Aussagesatzes und der Entscheidungsfrage. Erstens wird die Distribution temporaler und verbaler Elemente im Aussagesatz erklärt. Die Erklärung ist in Rahmen der minimalistischen Theorie formuliert und beinhaltet einige Annahmen über die Morphosyntax des Vietnamesischen. Von diesen Annahmen ausgehend wird dann eine Analyse für die Entscheidungsfrage gemacht, die ebenfalls mit Begriffen des Minimalismus formuliert wird. Es stellt sich aber heraus, dass diese Analyse in mancher Hinsicht inadäquat ist. Aus diesem Grund wird sie durch sprach- und konstruktionsspezifische Regeln ergänzt. Es wird angenommen, dass diese Regeln historisch entstanden sind und zur Peripherie gehören.]