Guidelines for writing abstracts

Found via Facebook this morning: Guidelines for writing abstracts, drawn up a while ago by Johan Rooryck and Vincent van Heuven after consultation of the Linguist List. I pretty much agree 100% with these guidelines, but about 200% with this one: “Don’t put your examples on a separate page, even when the abstract guidelines allow you to do so: abstract reviewers hate having to go back and forth between pages”. (This is a corollary of the same principle that banishes endnotes from academic publishing.)

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Google Scholar personalized updates

If you have made a personal profile on Google Scholar, there is now a new feature when you go to the Google Scholar site: personalized updates, “My updates”, a list of new articles that Google’s algorithm determines are related to your own work. When I checked my updates this morning, it looked quite accurate, lots of stuff that I find relevant, quite a bit of which I already knew about but some that I didn’t. What would be good is a weekly email summarizing what’s new, but in the absence of this it’s another page to check out once in a while.

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S3 hosting & naked domains

For a while, I had been tempted to move the hosting of my static websites (including this one) to Amazon’s S3 storage service, which has been able to serve up websites for a while. One sticking point was that it wasn’t easily possible to use a “naked domain” as the URL to access the site. That is, it was easy to use DNS CNAME records to point URLs like to an S3 “bucket”. But you couldn’t do that with the naked domain There were more or less ugly workarounds that I wanted nothing to do with.

Now, my DNS provider of choice, DNS Made Easy, has come up with a technology they call ANAME records (not to be confused with the standard A records). With this, naked domains on S3 are now possible. There is a tricky bit, though. All of the “hosting a static website on S3” tutorials on the net have you name your S3 bucket “”, that is, using a non-naked domain. That is because otherwise S3 wouldn’t know what to do with an incoming request for that domain. If, however, you now wish to go the DNS Made Easy ANAME way, and want to host a naked domain on S3, the bucket has to be named “nakedly” so to speak: “”. Then, an ANAME record can point at the S3 bucket. Here is the relevant DNS record for this site: 60 IN ANAME

This means that if you have an S3 bucket named the old way, you have to create a new one named the naked way and re-upload your content to that new bucket. (S3 doesn’t allow you to rename a bucket.)

Another thing that took a bit of fiddling was to redirect traffic from (if anybody ever tried that) to the naked domain. Turns out that again S3’s (in)capabilities mean that a workaround is needed. I have another S3 bucket named “” and a CNAME record pointing traffic to the www address to that bucket. Its only content is a simple html redirect file that sends browsers straight to the naked domain.

As you might have guessed, I figured this out the hard way, through trial and error, since I hadn’t found a tutorial on this topic. If this is all gobbledegook to you, good for you. You probably have better things to think about.

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News from the open access revolution

Three items of interest on the open access front:

I think it is becoming clearer all the time that academic publishing will turn inexorably and perhaps quite quickly towards full open access. The question is which publishers and which universities, scholarly societies, and funding agencies will be at the forefront and who will lag behind.

[I will only occasionally posts news items of this nature. If you want to follow the revolution more closely, I recommend Peter Suber’s Google+ updates and Stuart Shieber’s blog.]

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My academic genealogy

Kai's Stammbaum, Part 1

I received my PhD from UMass in 1994 with a dissertation called “Restrictions on Quantifier Domains”. I started teaching at MIT in 1993 and was finishing my dissertation during my first year of teaching here. My dissertation advisor (Doktormutter, “doctor mother”) was Angelika Kratzer. There were other very strong influences, of course, chief among them Barbara Partee, but for the purposes of the tree I will go by formal dissertation advisor relationships where possible. I will find some other occasion to talk more about my own intellectual biography and research career.

Angelika Kratzer

There are many ways in which Angelika was the perfect doctor mother for me. But one aspect I want to highlight here is that just like me, she has a passion for the history of our field. Her dissertation abounds in historical connections, one of which that struck me early on was the emphasis on the contributions of John Wallis [If you’re interested in this kind of thing, John Wallis appears as a character in a fun novel: “An Instance of the Fingerpost”]. This kind of historiographic interest was something I just soaked up. One of my early encounters with semantics, in fact, was a seminar taught by Professor Schepers of the Leibniz Research Institute in Münster on medieval semantics (William of Sherwood, William of Ockham, etc.) and other classes like that. For example, I learned to read Aristotle in the original and wrote one of my first college-level term papers on the notions of contradiction and contrariety in Peri Hermeneias (using not just the original but also medieval Arabic commentaries thereon).

Angelika wrote her dissertation entitled “Semantik der Rede: Kontexttheorie – Modalwörter – Konditionalsätze” doi:2027/mdp.39015015396008 in 1978. Her official advisor at the University of Konstanz in Germany was Urs Egli. I will not expand on Angelika’s intellectual biography, something she has already sketched on her website. Here’s an excerpt:

I wasn’t born to become a professor. The town I grew up in didn’t have a high-school for girls. Girls went to a Middle School run by nuns, learned cooking and bookkeeping, and got married. The next town over did have a high school for girls, but it only had a Modern Language track. The boys’ high school there had Modern Languages, too, but there also was a Science and a Classics branch. For reasons that nobody could remember any longer, the Classics track took in a few girls every year. I was one of them, and nine years of Latin and six years of Greek - six days a week - must have turned me into a linguist. I discovered modern linguistics when I tried to find a way to combine my love for the shape of languages and mathematics, and discovered the close-to-Utopian Linguistics Department in Konstanz after getting lost at the traditional University of Munich and taking a year off as an assistant teacher at the Lycée Jean Dautet in La Rochelle (France). I cobbled a graduate education together for myself via research assistantships and scholarships that took me to the University of Heidelberg and to Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). Before coming to Amherst, I was a researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen and taught at the Technical University in Berlin.”

[She further talks about] “a dream of a community of scholars that I myself was part of as a young student in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Konstanz, where Arnim von Stechow and Peter (Eberhard) Pause took me in as a colleague and friend, and where I first met Irene Heim, (Thomas) Ede Zimmermann, and my thesis advisor Urs Egli. Other academic teachers whose lectures and seminars left a mark on me include Peter Glotz (film and communication), Wolfgang Braunfels (history of art), Hans Rheinfelder (Dante), and Yehoshua Bar-Hillel, who was a guest professor at Konstanz for a semester.”

[About her dissertation she adds:] “From the time I started my dissertation work in New Zealand with the help of Max Cresswell, George Hughes, John Bigelow, and David Lewis, I have been interested in context dependent semantic phenomena, in particular tense, modals and conditionals. My dissertation Semantik der Rede (Semantics of Discourse) dates from 1978, but the questions I struggled with then are still very much alive these days, and I keep returning to them.”

Angelika has shared with me this picture taken after her dissertation defense:

Angelika's Dissertation Defense

Urs Egli

Urs Egli wrote a 1967 dissertation entitled “Zur stoischen Dialektik” at the University of Bern (Switzerland) under the direction of Willy Theiler. This information was a bit hard to find. I obtained an interlibrary loan copy of Egli’s dissertation and there is a page with a statement from Dekan (Dean) Prof. Dr. E. Walder that the dissertation had been accepted by the philosophical-historical faculty of the University of Bern at the request of Herr Prof. Dr. W. Theiler. I show here the title page, the decanal note, and the vita from the end of the thesis (a traditional component of doctoral dissertations).

An aside: A striking (mostly unsurprising) thing to see in Egli’s acknowledgments is that in his long list of professors whose lectures and seminars he attended, there is not a single woman. In fact, Angelika is not just the only woman in my entire tree, but there is no other woman to even be mentioned in the intellectual biographies of any of these men [this may not be strictly true, since it seems that Anna Comnena might be in the tree]. Our community has come a long way when I can honestly say that the four most important people in my immediate academic background are Angelika, Barbara, Irene, and Sabine.

When I first posted this first installment of my genealogy, I was contacted by Urs Egli and his wife, Renata Egli-Gerber. They shared with me a number of relevant materials, including a hard copy of Egli’s dissertation, some other writings, and an academic autobiography, which I can now make publicly available: “Wie man in Europa sowohl Altphilologe als auch Semantiker werden konnte”. For those who do not read German, here’s some highlights:

Egli entitles these memoirs: “How in Europe one could become both a classical philologist and a semanticist”. He was fascinated by Latin and Greek in school where he delved deep into grammatical and historical studies of those two ancient languages. He was also influenced early by the writings of Carnap, but it wasn’t possible to study mathematical logic or model-theoretic semantics in Bern, so after graduating from high school in 1960, he enrolled in General and Historical Linguistics and Greek and Latin, against the hopes of his high school teachers who thought he should study physics or “at least” biology. But his chosen disciplines offered at least a fail-save career option: he obtained a high school teacher’s diploma for Greek and Latin.

Around 1962, he discovered Chomsky’s “Syntactic Structures” in the university library and started thinking about ways to connect generative grammar, logic, and philology. He was a student of Georges Redard (a student of Emile Benveniste, in turn a student of Meillet’s, in turn a student of Saussure’s). Redard, though, wasn’t willing to advise a disertation on logic and formal grammar. So, what Egli finally settled on was a topic in the history of logical semantics (an area that he was drawn to through Bochenski’s work) and Willy Theiler in the same department as Redard agreed to advise the thesis. He wrote on stoic logic and semantics, combining logical analyses drawing on Mates and Lukasiewicz and philological work of Theiler, von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Eduard Schwartz, Fuhrmann, Kochalsky, and von der Mühll. The thesis was accepted in 1967.

Redard, who knew Chomsky from a summer school, wrote to Chomsky and helped Egli get an offer of a postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, but he couldn’t go there because of health reasons. (Egli adds that not going to MIT may have been a good thing because he suspects that at the height of the “linguistics wars”, he might not have thrived there, because of his tendency to try to give all approaches their due and to combine them where possible.) So, he went to Cologne to work with Hansjakob Seiler, the director of the linguistics department there (who was just about to retire when I myself started studying linguistics there in 1984 and who was replaced by Sasse, who I took several seminars from). While there, he discovered the third significant work that informed his career: Montague’s universal grammar (through Helmut Schnelle’s exposition). He wrote his “habilitation” (second dissertation to earn the right to be a professor) on Montagovian/Chomskyan themes. This time, Redard advised the work and Egli stresses that the combination of insights that he put together seems to him to realize one of Redard’s favorite aphorisms of Saussure’s: “la linguistique sera algébrique ou elle ne sera pas”. Indeed. In 1974, the philosophical-historical school of the University of Bern accepted the habilitation.

Egli says that apart from his official genealogy through Theiler, von der Mühll, Schwartz, which is what I will be tracing here, he has a second lineage through Redard (associating him with Max Niedermann, Jacob Wackernagel, Emile Benveniste, Antoine Meillet, and Ferdinand de Saussure). And then, obviously, there is the intellectual influence, which we all share, of Carnap, Chomsky, and Montague.

Willy Theiler

Willy Theiler (* 24. Oktober 1899 in Adliswil; died 26. Februar 1977 in Bern) taught at the universities of Königsberg (1932–1944) and Bern (1944–1968). Here’s a photo of him from an obituary article in the journal Gnomon:

Willy Theiler

Theiler’s dissertation “Zur Geschichte der teleologischen Naturbetrachtung bis auf Aristoteles” was filed at the University of Basel (also Switzerland) in 1924 (at the age of 25) under the direction of Peter von der Mühll. A later edition is in fact dedicated to von der Mühll.

According to Theiler’s obituary, von der Mühll was an extraordinary teacher whose seminars attracted many young scholars over the years. Even though there were 43 years between Theiler’s dissertation and Egli’s dissertation, Egli writes in his acknowledgments that von der Mühll had helped him with some information about manuscript transmission. Theiler supervised 26 dissertations (and more at institutions other than the ones he was teaching at) over his career. He was an eminent philologist, specializing in ancient philosophy.

Peter von der Mühll

With Peter von der Mühll (* 1. August 1885 in Basel; died 13. Oktober 1970 also in Basel), the tree leaves Switzerland; he was Swiss and taught at Zürich and Basel, but he got his doctorate in Göttingen (Germany) in 1909 (at the age of 26) with a dissertation entitled “De Aristotelis Ethicorum Eudemiorum auctoritate” under the direction of Eduard Schwartz, who together with Jacob Wackernagel and Friedrich Leo made Göttingen a center of excellence in classic studies. From now on in the tree, all dissertations were written in Latin. This one is a mere 47 pages long and it has a DOI: 2027/uc1.b2619343. Unfortunately, Google’s scan of the last page of the dissertation, which has a Vita including acknowledgments, is a bad scan cutting off the right side of the text, so it’s not really useful, except that one can see that he acknowledges Wackernagel among others. So, I obtained a fresh scan from Harvard’s Widener Library. I am posting a four page excerpt with the title, dedication, and Vita pages.

Von der Mühll didn’t publish all that much in his career, focusing on his teaching, advising, and on administrative duties (he was rector of the University of Basel for a while). Here’s a photo (again from an obituary article in Gnomon):

Picture of von der Mühll

Eduard Schwartz

Eduard Schwartz (* 22. August 1858 in Kiel; died 13. Februar 1940 in München) was mainly trained at the University of Bonn (when I lived in Cologne and regularly visited Bonn, the Intercity trains used to announce that Bonn was the birth place of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven and the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany … in that order).

He received his doctorate there with a dissertation entitled “De Dionysio Scytobrachione” (freely downloadable as a pdf from Google Books) in 1880 (at the age of 22; note that the ages at which these academic ancestors got their degrees are decreasing as we go back in time, indicating how professionalized the discipline has become over time). His co-advisors were Franz Bücheler and Hermann Usener. His dissertation has a list of 11 controversial theses at the end (a feature you can still see in linguistics dissertations from the Netherlands, and which recurs in the dissertations further up the tree). The title page lists three fellow students who served as the disputants at the defense (again, a traditional component of doctoral dissertations for a while). His doctorfathers are acknowledged on the next page in the dedication, and his vita contains a list of other teachers.

[To be continued]

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Recent talks

This past month I have been busy with talks in various venues. Three papers that now need to be written. Slides are available for all three and in one case there’s a draft paper of sorts.

  1. I gave a talk on deontic modals in a session at the Central meeting of the APA. There’s a draft paper and a set of slides from the conference. Nate Charlow has put up the handout from his commentary on my talk. I don’t know yet whether I will develop the paper as it is, a whirlwind tour of three challenges to the standard semantics for deontic modals, or write a stand-alone paper expanding on the third part that deals with the hot topic of information-sensitive deontic modality, or both.
  2. Thony Gillies and I presented a talk on conditionals and hedging in an another session of the same APA Central meeting (well, Thony gave the talk, I heckled from the cheap seats). There are slides. This a talk we’ve given an airing a couple of times over the last two years. It’s time to write it up and we’re just about starting to do that.
  3. Sabine Iatridou and I have been working on imperatives ever since we taught a seminar on the topic in the spring of 2008 and included them in our LSA class at Berkeley in the summer of 2009. We now have a talk on the meaning of imperatives, including a bunch of data from a bunch of mediterranean languages. You can take a look at my slides from my UMass colloquium yesterday. Again, we are just starting to write this up.

Clearly, I have plenty to do between now and the end of my sabbatical on June 30. There’s not just these three papers but a few other projects that I should wrap up, and one biggie that I should really get started on so that the momentum will carry it through even when I’m back at the Institute.

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When you know you’re a geek

When you know you’re a geek, part 145: a slideshow needs to be prepared for a talk in a couple of days. So, you think that instead of writing the slides directly in LaTeX Beamer code (of course, anything like PowerPoint or Keynote is beyond the pale), you should write them in markdown, since that’s so nicely uncluttered. This of course means that you need a conversion engine to convert markdown source to beamer source. Enter pandoc. This of course means that you need Haskell installed, which is of course best done by running Homebrew, which doesn’t seem to be on the laptop yet. So, first step is updating XCode since Homebrew relies on that and of course, everything needs to be up-to-date so that the slide-writing can happen in a spic-and-span system. This is when you remember the first time you saw Hans Kamp give a talk: with overhead transparencies that he had handwritten on the flight over.

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Conditionals handbook article

This came in the snail mail the other day. Rather quaint to get printed offprints. Anyway, this let me know that my entry on conditionals for the new three volume semantics handbook (Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning) has now appeared.

  • von Fintel, Kai. 2011. Conditionals. In Klaus von Heusinger, Claudia Maienborn, and Paul Portner (eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of meaning, 1515–1538. DeGruyter.
    doi: 10.1515/9783110255072.1515.

The link on the title above leads to the final manuscript version. Email me for a pdf of the published version.

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Citation impact 2008-2010

[Reposted from S&P Editors Blog]

We were curious to see how S&P is doing as far as the impact of published articles on the field is concerned. Below we have compiled a list of all articles published in the four main semantics journals (Linguistics & Philosophy, Natural Language Semantics, Journal of Semantics, Semantics & Pragmatics) since 2008 (the year of S&P’s first published article) that have received 10 citations or more according to Google Scholar. There are not yet any articles published in 2011 on that list. So, let’s focus on the cohort of articles published between 2008 and 2010. The four journals combined published 141 main research articles in that time frame. 54 of those (= 38%) have received 10 or more citations. S&P published fewer articles than the other three journals (11 in fact: 1 in 2008, 3 in 2009, 7 in 2010), since we’re still ramping up the quantity of publications. But S&P already has an outsized share of the top impact articles: we have 5 articles in the Top 20, and an overall rate of 64% of our articles have already received 10 or more citations.

By all accounts then, S&P’s first three years were a resounding success quality-wise. Now, we’ll be working on increasing our quantitive share of the semantics market while not decreasing our quality share. You can help: submit your best work to S&P. You will receive top-notch and fast peer-reviewing and editorial feedback and fast time-to-print. Plus, your work will be openly accessible to anyone with access to an internet connection, rather than being locked behind prohibitive subscription barriers.

[There are other things to notice, such as the domination in the upper range of articles by NLS, distancing the two older journals JoS and, especially, L&P.]

  1. [54 citations] Kehler, Kertz, Rohde et al. - JoS 2008. Coherence and coreference revisited
  2. [53 citations] Hackl - NLS 2009. On the grammar and processing of proportional quantifiers: most versus more than half
  3. [48 citations] Chemla - NLS 2009. Presuppositions of quantified sentences: experimental data
  4. [42 citations] Schlenker - S&P 2009. Local contexts
  5. [37 citations] Rothstein - JoS 2010. Counting and the mass/count distinction
  6. [32 citations] Wilhelm - NLS 2008. Bare nouns and number in Dëne Sųłiné
  7. [31 citations] Barker, Shan - S&P 2008. Donkey anaphora is in-scope binding
  8. [28 citations] Geurts, Pouscoulous - S&P 2009. Embedded implicatures
  9. [28 citations] Breheny - JoS 2008. A new look at the semantics and pragmatics of numerically quantified noun phrases
  10. [27 citations] von Fintel, Gillies - NLS 2010. Must… stay… strong!
  11. [27 citations] Rullmann, Matthewson et al. - NLS 2008. Modals as distributive indefinites
  12. [27 citations] Magri - NLS 2009. A theory of individual-level predicates based on blind mandatory scalar implicatures
  13. [24 citations] Elbourne - L&P 2008. Demonstratives as individual concepts
  14. [22 citations] Chemla - S&P 2009. Universal implicatures and free choice effects: Experimental data
  15. [21 citations] Matushansky - L&P 2008. On the linguistic complexity of proper names
  16. [21 citations] Farkas, Bruce - JoS 2010. On reacting to assertions and polar questions
  17. [21 citations] Alonso-Ovalle, Menendez-Benito - NLS 2010. Modal indefinites
  18. [21 citations] Bale - L&P 2008. A universal scale of comparison
  19. [20 citations] Nouwen - S&P 2010. Two kinds of modified numerals
  20. [20 citations] Singh - L&P 2008. On the interpretation of disjunction: Asymmetric, incremental, and eager for inconsistency
  21. [19 citations] Kissine - NLS 2008. Why will is not a modal
  22. [18 citations] Gualmini, Hulsey, Hacquard et al. - NLS 2008. The Question–Answer Requirement for scope assignment
  23. [18 citations] Harris et al. - L&P 2009. Perspective-shifting with appositives and expressives
  24. [17 citations] Abusch - JoS 2010. Presupposition triggering from alternatives
  25. [17 citations] Ippolito - JoS 2008. On the meaning of only
  26. [17 citations] Hacquard - L&P 2009. On the interaction of aspect and modal auxiliaries
  27. [17 citations] Morzycki - NLS 2009. Degree modification of gradable nouns: size adjectives and adnominal degree morphemes
  28. [17 citations] Lascarides et al. - JoS 2009. Agreement, disputes and commitments in dialogue
  29. [16 citations] Bale et al. - JoS 2009. The interpretation of functional heads: Using comparatives to explore the mass/count distinction
  30. [16 citations] Gillies - S&P 2010. Iffiness
  31. [16 citations] Brasoveanu - L&P 2008. Donkey pluralities: plural information states versus non-atomic individuals
  32. [16 citations] Moltmann - L&P 2009. Degree structure as trope structure: a trope-based analysis of positive and comparative adjectives
  33. [15 citations] Villalta - L&P 2008. Mood and gradability: an investigation of the subjunctive mood in Spanish
  34. [15 citations] Syrett, Kennedy et al. - JoS 2010. Meaning and context in children’s understanding of gradable adjectives
  35. [15 citations] Lascarides et al. - JoS 2009. A formal semantic analysis of gesture
  36. [14 citations] Arregui - L&P 2009. On similarity in counterfactuals
  37. [14 citations] Chemla - JoS 2008. An epistemic step for anti-presuppositions
  38. [13 citations] Abbott - L&P 2008. Presuppositions and common ground
  39. [13 citations] Hacquard - NLS 2010. On the event relativity of modal auxiliaries
  40. [13 citations] Chaves - L&P 2008. Linearization-based word-part ellipsis
  41. [13 citations] Moltmann - NLS 2008. Intensional verbs and their intentional objects
  42. [12 citations] Koenig, Mauner, Bienvenue et al. - JoS 2008. What with? The anatomy of a (proto)-role
  43. [12 citations] Nicolas - L&P 2008. Mass nouns and plural logic
  44. [12 citations] Dekker - L&P 2008. A multi-dimensional treatment of quantification in extraordinary English
  45. [11 citations] Nouwen - NLS 2008. Upper-bounded no more: the exhaustive interpretation of non-strict comparison
  46. [11 citations] Sharvit - L&P 2008. The puzzle of free indirect discourse
  47. [11 citations] Gualmini et al. - JoS 2009. Solving learnability problems in the acquisition of semantics
  48. [11 citations] Brasoveanu - JoS 2010. Decomposing modal quantification
  49. [11 citations] Davis - JoS 2009. Decisions, dynamics and the Japanese particle yo
  50. [11 citations] Lin - NLS 2009. Chinese comparatives and their implicational parameters
  51. [10 citations] Martí - NLS 2008. The semantics of plural indefinite noun phrases in Spanish and Portuguese
  52. [10 citations] Beck - S&P 2010. Quantifiers in than-clauses
  53. [10 citations] Zweig - L&P 2009. Number-neutral bare plurals and the multiplicity implicature
  54. [10 citations] Francez - L&P 2009. Existentials, predication, and modification

[NB: data from February 5, 2012]

Total papers published by the four journals 2008–2010: 141
54 have received 10 citations or more (54/141 = 38%)

Share of the Top 54:

JoS: 15 papers (of 41 published 2008–2010) = 15/41 = 37%
L&P: 17 papers (of 55 published 2008–2010) = 17/55 = 31%
NLS: 15 papers (of 34 published 2008–2010) = 15/34 = 44%
S&P: 7 papers (of 11 published 2008–2010) = 7/11 = 64%

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Russell on implicature

Benjamin Russell recently finished his dissertation at Brown. I was part of his committee (chaired by Polly Jacobson, other members: Larry Horn, Laura Kertz) and learned a lot from working with Ben. He has now posted his thesis to the archive:

Anybody interested in the formalization and understanding of pragmatic mechanisms should read this thesis.

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Attack from big money publishers

Speaking of open access, I hope that most of you have heard about the US Research Works Act, which is a bill before Congress that would roll back the open access policies of some federal grant agencies. I urge you all to do what you can to raise awareness of this. Here is some essential reading:

My position on this is exactly the one very forcefully put by Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber:

We endorse the view that every federal agency funding non-classified research should require free online access to the full-text, peer-reviewed results of that research as soon as possible after its publication. There are three powerful reasons to take such a step. First, taxpayers deserve access to the results of taxpayer-funded research. It is their right. Second, public access maximizes the visibility and usefulness of this research, which in turn maximizes the return on the public’s enormous investment in that research. Third, public access accelerates research and all the benefits that depend on research, from public health to economic development, manufacturing, and jobs …”


Update (2012-01-18): Good news. Two of the big guns, Nature and Science have come out in opposition to the Research Works Act and in support of the NIH Open Access Policy. It’s very clear that Elsevier and their cronies are isolated in the scientific community, but unfortunately they have the ears of many ill-informed congresspeople.

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My open access policy

MIT, of course, has an Open Access Policy, which I am proud to have played a small role in establishing. Having that policy has guided my personal decisions about venues for publishing and reviewing, but I have noticed that I have not always been very principled and consistent in my decisions. So, it is time for my own personal policy. Here it is.

Kai’s Open Access Policy

  1. Journals: I will only publish in, review for, and serve on editorial boards for journals that allow authors to deposit at least the final manuscript version (“postprint”) in an open access repository (such as MIT’s Dspace or the Semantics Archive), without any embargo (such as having to wait for 24 months before making the OA version available).
  2. Book chapters: I will personally only contribute book chapters, if the publisher allows me to deposit at least the final manuscript version in an open access repository, without any embargo. (I will consider reviewing books or book chapters that are not OA-friendly, because books are a different business from research journals, although I wish that there was more movement towards OA books.)
  3. Books: I will only publish books myself that have a significant open access component, such as making at least the final manuscript freely available, or even the final published version while charging for print versions of course.

For current reference, here are the policies of leading publishers of relevance to our field(s), culled from the MIT Libraries list of publisher policies:

  • Elsevier: With 2011 revision of author agreement, requires authors to opt out.
  • MIT Press: In full cooperation. Allows posting of final published version.
  • Springer: MIT and Springer have established an agreement that extends flexible reuse rights to MIT authors of papers published in Springer journals. Among other rights, the final submitted manuscripts of MIT-authored Springer papers can be posted openly in MIT’s open access repository DSpace@MIT. Authors should sign the standard Springer agreement and do not need to submit an author’s addendum.
  • Wiley-Blackwell: Has indicated it will be requiring authors to opt out.

Obviously, this list doesn’t include some important publishers, such as Oxford University Press. So, before making any particular decisions, I will consult with whoever is asking me to publish or review for them.

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Defending a classic semantics for “ought”

I have a new draft paper:

The best we can (expect to) get? Challenges to the classic semantics for deontic modals.
2012. Paper to be presented in a session on Deontic Modals at the Central APA, February 17, 2012.

A somewhat programmatic response to recent challenges to the classic semantics for deontic modals (as brought into linguistics by Kratzer), addressing work by Cariani, Cariani & Kaufmann & Kaufmann, Charlow, Kolodny & MacFarlane, Lassiter, Silk.

As always, comments would be very welcome. You know how to reach me.

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