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Colloquium 9 (22th October, 4PM): Bridget Copley (CNRS / Université Paris 8)

Events are the source of causal readings in the simplest English conditionals

The ninth colloquium held at the Department of Linguistics, SNU in 2021 is “Events are the source of causal readings in the simplest English conditionals” by Bridget Copley.

The speaker currently works at Unité Mixte de Recherche 7023 (Structures Formelles du Langage), Université Paris 8, France. She acquired her PhD in Linguistics from Université de Nantes in 2018.


The distinction between stative predicates such as be the princess and eventive predicates such as become the princess is highly relevant to the distribution of causal and non-causal readings of conditionals. In this paper I argue that this fact can be understoodusing causal models as in Pearl (2000), along with a more fine-grained understanding of two points: (a) not all seemingly eventive verb phrases are truly eventive, and (b) the representation of events should include something like a transition. This insight allows us to link event semantics to causal models. When we do this in an appropriate way, there arise two ways to add information to the common ground: either a proposition is learned, or an event happens. Under this framework, it appears that causal relations within the meaning of eventive verb phrases are the source of causal readings of the (morphologically) simplest conditionals in English.


Link to the material

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