Monthly Archives: August 2013

Freshman Lecture (Alan Du, 8/26/13)

Here’s a brief summary of the lecture I gave yesterday to the incoming freshman. Slides can be found here.

Question Formation

We started by looking at question formation. We assumed there was some kind of operation that transformed every sentence into some kind of question. For example:

1 a) John can sing.
1 b) Can John sing?
2 a) Mary is singing.
2 b) Is Mary singing?3 a) They are sleeping.
3 b) Are they sleeping?

In all of these cases (and in fact, every case with auxiliaries), we move the auxiliary verb in front of the subject. But what happens when we have two auxiliaries? Well, then we can choose to move either the first auxiliary or the second auxiliary:

4 a) He is saying that she should sleep.
4 b) Is he saying that she should sleep?
*4 c) Should he is saying that she sleep?
5 a) I will get the books that are about computers.
5 b) Will I get the books that are about computers?
*5 c) Are I will get the books that about computers?

In these examples, and most examples in English, you move the first auxiliary to make a question. If you move the wrong auxiliary (marked with *), you get word salad: total nonsense. But what about these examples?

Continue reading Freshman Lecture (Alan Du, 8/26/13)

Linguistics 2013-2014

Hi everyone!

Linguistics is moving to Wednesdays at 3:00 this year, starting September 11th. Bring a junior-or-under on the first day, and you will each receive a cookie.

We’re also switching to a proper mailing list. If you did not receive an invitation, please sign up here.

We’re in the process of planning our first guest speakers of the year. In the meantime, of course, you are more than welcome to sign up┬áto do a lecture yourself. This year, we’re going to try to alternate guest speakers with student lectures, so that we can provide background for the visitors and squeeze in some NACLO alongside the student lectures.

See you soon!