The Circle is a weekly forum dedicated to discussion of the descriptive, experimental, and theoretical study of syntax and semantics, featuring presentations of ongoing research by members of the Berkeley Linguistics Department and other departments, as well as discussion of previously published works.


Fridays, 3:00-4:30pm


1303 Dwinelle Hall


Emily Clem

Tessa Scott


University of California, Berkeley
Department of Linguistics


22 february
Jorge Hankamer (UC Santa Cruz) & Line Mikkelsen (UC Berkeley)
CP complements to D

Despite their apparent simplicity, the structure of DPs containing “complement” CPs (what we will call DCs) has long been obscure. One major strand of investigation has attempted to assimilate DCs to (close) nominal apposition, implying that N and CP form a structural unit which then combines with D.

Danish has two kinds of DCs, a bare DC with the superficial structure [D N CP] and a prepositional DC in which the CP is encased in a PP. Exploiting clues provided by the allomorphy of the definite morpheme, we argue that the bare and prepositional DCs have very different structures, neither of which can be assimilated to apposition between N and CP.

We show that the two kinds of DC have different semantic/pragmatic properties, the bare DCs being referent-establishing in the sense of Hawkins (1978) and the (definite) prepositional DC being anaphoric.

We then argue that English also has different structures for anaphoric and referent- establishing DCs, and that they are plausibly parallel to the structures we establish for Danish. We conclude by arguing that if the structure of any DCs in English is to be assimilated to apposition, it must be apposition between DP and CP.


1 march
Margaret Kroll (UC Santa Cruz)

8 march
Samantha Wathugala & Virginia Dawson (UC Berkeley)
In support of a choice functional analysis of Sinhala ðə

15 march
Adam Singerman (University of Chicago)

22 march
Kenneth Baclawski Jr. (UC Berkeley)

29 march
No Meeting (Spring Break)

5 april
Amy Rose Deal (UC Berkeley)

12 april
Eva Portelance (Stanford University)

19 april
Erika Petersen O Farrill (Stanford University)

26 april

3 may
Virginia Dawson (UC Berkeley)

10 may
No Meeting (RRR Week)

15 may
Special Day (Wednesday)
Pauline Jacobson (Brown University)


15 february
Peter Jenks (UC Berkeley)
Anaphoric definites as anchored definites

Some languages distinguish between two semantic categories of definites: those which are licensed by uniqueness (e.g. the sun) and others which are licensed by prior mention, anaphoric definites. Contemporary analyses of anaphoric definites have proposed that they involve an additional layer of DP structure, which introduces a discourse-bound index as a syntactic argument. I present new evidence for the existence of discourse-bound indices from Dafing, a Mande language of Burkina Faso, where this discourse-bound index is overt, and must co-occur with the definite article. Yet the Dafing index is in complementary distribution with demonstratives and possessives, a point I take to provide evidence for a further claim, which is that anaphoric definites are a species of a more general category of definite noun phrases I call anchored definites. Anchored definites always involve additional structure and a syntactic argument attached at the DP level which supplies a contextual restriction on the uniqueness presupposition of the definite article. I review evidence for the existence of this category from languages where only anchored definites are marked with an overt definite article.

8 february
No Meeting (BLS Workshop: Countability Distinctions)

1 february
Round Robin