Abstract: One of the defining properties of presuppositions is that they are inferences that survive when a sentence is embedded under negation. For example, “John will bring his wetsuit” and “John won’t bring his wetsuit” both presuppose that John has a wetsuit. Karttunen (1973) thus characterized negation as a “hole” for presuppositions: it lets through the presuppositions of its embedded constituent.

However, it has long been noted that presuppositions of negative sentences sometimes vanish. For example, the following sentence has no presupposition at all: “John won’t bring his wetsuit…he doesn’t even have a wetsuit!” To deal with vanishing presuppositions it has been common to assume the existence of mechanisms that can “cancel” a sentence’s presuppositions (e.g., Heim’s 1983 “local accommodation,” or Beaver and Kraemer’s 2001 “floating-A operator).

In this talk I argue that cancellation mechanisms are conceptually and empirically problematic; a theory of presupposition would do better without them. To meet this challenge I propose a revised theory of presupposition projection under which negation is *not* a hole for presuppositions; instead, it is a “plug” that doesn’t let presuppositions through. Following Schlenker (2008), the projection system employs a bivalent semantics as well as reasoning over continuations of a sentence in incremental processing, but unlike Schlenker it derives presuppositions only from the assumption that the sentence has a true continuation. I will argue that the apparent hole-like behaviour of negation and other operators follows from independent considerations (the “proviso-problem”, Geurts 1996).

Posted in Academic, Internal affairs, Talks @ Concordia | Tagged , , | Leave a comment


Abstract: Mature human cognition is complex and variable, both across
contemporary cultures and over human history, but human cognitive
development proceeds in a more predictable pattern, especially in infants
and young children. Studies of infants’ cognitive abilities in non-social
domains (including object cognition, numerical cognition and spatial
cognition) shed light on the starting points for human cognitive
development. Together with studies of these cognitive abilities in other
animals, at other ages, and with other methods from the cognitive and brain
sciences, this research suggests deep properties of physical and
mathematical reasoning in older children and adults. Here I ask whether
studies of infants can bring similar insights into human social cognition.
Do the complex social inferences and intuitions of adults develop from, and
build on, simpler systems that are functional in infants? If so, what are
the properties of these systems, and what roles do they play in the richer
social reasoning that emerges later in development? Recent studies of human
infants, using simple behavioral methods, suggest that the answers to these
questions may lie within reach. I describe some new findings and call for a
multi-species, multi-leveled search for the core mechanisms by which humans
navigate the social world.

About the Speaker:

Elizabeth Spelke received her A.B. from Radcliffe College and her Ph.D.
from Cornell University, where she studied cognitive psychology with Ulric
Neisser and perception and developmental psychology with Eleanor J. Gibson.
She taught in the Psychology Departments of the University of Pennsylvania
and Cornell University, and in the Department of Brain and Cognitive
Sciences at MIT, before joining the Department of Psychology at Harvard,
where she now directs the Laboratory for Developmental Studies. Dr. Spelke
has received numerous prestigious awards: the William James Award, American
Psychological Society, 2000; the Distinguished Scientific Contribution
Award, the American Psychological Association, 2000; America’s Best in
Science and Medicine, Time Magazine, 2001; National Academy of Sciences
Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, 2014. Over her career,
Spelke has probed the origins, development and nature of knowledge of
objects, actions, number, geometry, persons and social relationships
through behavioral studies of human adults, children, and especially
infants. She seeks to shed light on cognitive capacities that are universal
across human cultures, early emerging in human development, and fundamental
to the unique cognitive achievements of human adults. To foster
investigations of cognition at multiple levels, her research seeks to
elucidate aspects of human cognition that depend on ancient mechanisms and
that therefore can be studied in model animals. To shed light on our
species’ unique cognitive achievements, including mastery of systems of formal mathematics, her research also probes the processes that give rise to new concepts over the course of children’s cognitive development.

Posted in Academic, Talks @ Concordia | Tagged | Leave a comment

Colloquium: An Introduction to Neuroscience For Cognitive Science Students


The Concordia Linguistics Students Association (LSA) and the Concordia Centre for Cognitive Science  will host Dr. Mabel Chong (PhD McGill, 2009) for  an introductory-level  discussion of the neuroscience aspects of  Poeppel’s (2012) paper on the “the relation between the primitives of cognition [language,speech,vision, etc.] and neurobiology” at 1:30 PM on October 3 in H527. Undergraduates in all fields (psychology, linguistics, biology, philosophy etc.) are particularly encouraged to attend<< hyperlink to paper below.



The maps problem and the mapping problem: Two challenges for a cognitive neuroscience of speech and language

Posted in Academic, Talks @ Concordia | Leave a comment

External Talk: Robert Fiorentino


This talk may be of interest to some of you:

Friday, October 3rd 2014, 10:00 am
 Identifying the pieces, processes, and brain bases of complex word recognition
320, rue Sainte-Catherine Est
2e étage, salle DS-2505
Posted in Academic, External events | Leave a comment

Casadio Slides

Hello readers,

We hope you enjoyed our first colloquium! Here is a hyperlink to the slides for Professor Casadio’s presentation: Casadio Montreal 19:09:14




Posted in Academic, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Colloquium 2: Laura Grestenberger


Anagnostopoulou (2003) argues in her seminal paper “Participles and Voice” that the properties of Modern Greek and German participles are determined by different levels of incorporation of functional structure: in target state participles, the nominalizer attaches directly to the root and does not include the functional projection Voice, while in result state participles, it does include VoiceP. Building on this insight and subsequent work (e.g., Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou 2008), I argue that this approach to the architecture of participles makes interesting predictions with respect to voice mismatches (“deponency”). We expect that voice mismatches are preserved in nominalizations that include VoiceP, but disappear in nominalizations that do not include VoiceP. I argue that the syntax of deponent participles in Hittite, Vedic Sanskrit, Ancient & Modern Greek and Latin confirms this prediction and makes it possible to pinpoint exactly where and why voice mismatches occur.



Posted in Academic, Internal affairs, Talks @ Concordia | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

LSA Talks: Claudia Casadio


We will introduce a framework for the analysis of natural language based on the idea of a type logical grammar: a system of formal rules that can be applied to test the grammaticality of strings of words of a language, and eventually produce algorithms for the generation of grammatical sentences.

This idea has important precedents in the philosophy of Edmund Husserl and was developed in details by the Polish School of Logic (Ajdukiewicz). A significative step in this direction is represented by the Syntactic Calculus introduced in 1958 by the mathematician Joachim Lambek, and then developed in the Eighties by linguists and logicians like J. van Benthem, M. Moortgat, G. Morrill, W. Buszkowski and many Others.

In the talk the basic elements of type logical grammars, also known as categorial grammars, will be introduced and linguistic examples will be given concerning different languages, making particular reference to the rules of Lambek’s Syntactic Calculus.

-Prof. Claudia Casadio

Posted in Academic, Talks @ Concordia | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

L2 French Participants Needed for Experiment

Participants recherchés

Nous cherchons des adultes sans trouble de langage pour un projet visant à développer un outil de recherche pour le langage.

Vous pourriez participer au projet si

- le français n’est pas votre langue maternelle,
- vous êtes âgé de 18 à 40 ans,
- vous habitez au Québec depuis 5 ans ou moins et
- vous n’avez pas plus de 7 ans d’exposition au français,

Le but de ce projet est d’étudier les processus mentaux impliqués dans le développement de la conjugaison des verbes en français. Pour réaliser ce projet, nous utilisons un jeu conçu pour tablettes Android. Celui-ci nous aide à comprendre les processus impliqués dans la conjugaison des verbes en français.

Avec votre participation au projet, vous courez la chance de gagner un montant de 100$. Le tirage au sort aura lieu à la fin du projet, le 3 fevrier 2015. Le gagnant sera avisé par téléphone. Si vous êtes intéressé(e) à participer à cette recherche ou pour avoir plus de renseignements, contactez Alexandra au:  ou au 514-343-6111 ext 36544

Alexandra Marquis (Ph.D)
École d’orthophonie et d’audiologie, Université de Montréal

(messages can be sent in French or English)

Posted in Academic, External events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Todd Clary and wine and cheese

We are proud to present our final speaker of the semester, our very own Professor Todd Clary. These are the details of his talk:

Title: The Watery Ways: the Etymology of Greek κέλευθος

Time: POSTPONED UNTIL Thursday, April 17th, 16h15

Place: Concordia Hall Building (1455 de Maisonneuve W.), room H661.2.

Abstract: Watery Ways abstract



There will also be the end of semester wine and cheese, which is a great chance to mingle and network with professors and fellow students.

Place: Cafe Andalucia, 2nd floor

Address:  1424 Bishop Street. Nearest cross-street is Ste-Catherine.

Time: April 11th, 18h30,

Posted in Talks @ Concordia | Leave a comment

Study in Peru

We’ve received an email from Piero Fioralisso, Coordinator of Special Programs of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, announcing the launch of the Field School Program in Peru 2014. This program, created and developed by PUCP, provides students with the opportunity to carry out practical work in research projects which are directed by some of our most prestigious faculty members and during its ten years of existence the Field School program has received more than 300 students.

This season the program is offering courses that  may be of interest to you:

-Linguistic Summer Field School
-Spanish Language and Peruvian Studies Program

You will find more information about these courses and the complete Field School Program offer in the following links:

-Field School Program Brochure: 

-Spanish Language Brochure:


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment