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Alan Bale, PhD

Associate Professor, Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics

Alan Bale, PhD
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2336
Website(s): Alan Bale website

My work uses the tools of logic to analyze the grammatical representations of meaning within the language faculty. The spirit of this work follows the semantic projects laid out by generative linguists such as Chomsky and Katz & Fodor, while also taking advantage of the technical machinery introduced by Montague and Keenan & Faltz. Within this general framework, I have been researching the grammatical representation number, comparison and scalar competition. Studying both linguistic and non-linguistic aspects of meaning in children and adults has allowed me to gain a more complete understanding of the interaction between language and the conceptual development of number and quantification. Much of this work involves teasing apart the various contributions to meaning, whether it be language-particular representations (pure semantics), more general conceptual abilities (psychological categories), or general reasoning processes (pragmatics). Languages such as Mi’gmaq (a northeastern Algonquian language), English and Western Armenian play critical roles in this research.


BA (McGill, 1996)
MA (McGill, 2001)
PhD (McGill, 2006)
Post-doctoral Research (MIT, 2006-2008)


Journal Articles

Bale, A., D. Shanks, and B. Schwarz. (in press). Monotonicity revisited: mass nouns and comparisons of purity. Journal of Semantics.

Bale, A., C. Reiss, and D. Shen. (2020). Sets, Rules and Natural Classes: {} vs. [ ]. Loquens 6(2), e065.

Bale, A. and B. Schwarz. (2020). Proportional readings of many and few: the case for an underspecified measure function. Linguistic and Philosophy 43(6), 673-699.

Skordos, D., R. Feiman, A. Bale, D. Barner. (2020). Do children interpret or conjunctively? Journal of Semantics 37(2), 247-267.

Bale, A., J. Coon and N. Arcos López. (2019). Classifiers, partitions, and measurements: Exploring the syntax and semantics of sortal classifiers. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics,4(1), 77.

Bale, A. and D. Barner. (2018). Quantity judgment and the mass-count distinction across languages: Advances, problems, and future directions for research. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 3(1): 63, 1-23.

Sullivan, J., A. Bale and D. Barner. (2018). Most preschoolers don’t know “most”. Language Learning and Development 14(4), 320-338.

Hochstein, L., A. Bale and D. Barner. (2017). Scalar implicature in absence of epistemic reasoning? The case of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Language Learning and Development 14(3), 224-240.

Hochstein, L., A.Bale, D. Fox and D. Barner. (2016). Ignorance and inference: Access to alternatives limits children's capacity to compute scalar implicature. Journal of Semantics 33(1), 107-135.

Coon, J. and A.Bale. (2014). The interaction of person and number in Mi’gmaq. Nordlyd 41(1): 85-101.

Bale, A. and J.Coon. (2014). Classifiers are for numerals, not nouns: Evidence from Mi’gmaq and Chol. LinguisticInquiry45(4): 695-707.

Bale, A., M. Papillon and C. Reiss. (2014). Targeting underspecified segments: A formal analysis of feature changing and feature filling rules. Lingua148:240-253.

Bale, A. and H. Khanjian. (2014). Syntactic complexity and competition: The singular-plural distinction in Western Armenian. Linguistic Inquiry 45(1)1-26.

Bale, A. (2011).Scales and comparison classes. Natural Language Semantics 19(2): 169-190.

Barner, D., N. Brooks and A. Bale. (2011). Accessing the unsaid: The role of scalar alternatives in children’s pragmatic inference. Cognition 188: 87-96.

Bale, A., M. Gagnon and H. Khanjian (2011). On the relationship between morphological and semantic markedness: The case of plural morphology. Morphology 21(2). 197-221.

Bale, A. and D. Barner. (2009) The interpretation of functional heads: Exploring the mass/count distinction. Journal of Semantics 26(3): 217-252.

Bale, A. (2008). A universal scale of comparison. Linguistics and Philosophy 31(1): 1-55.

Bale, A. (2007). Quantifiers and verb phrases: An exploration of propositional complexity. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 25(3): 447-483.

Barner, D. and A.Bale. (2005). No nouns, no verbs? Rejoinder to Panagiotidis. Lingua 115,1169-1179

Barner, D. and A.Bale. (2002). No nouns, no verbs: Psycholinguistic arguments in favor of lexical underspecification. Lingua 112 ,771-791.

Shultz, T. R. and A.C. Bale. (2006). Neural networks discover an identity relation to distinguish simple syntactic forms. Minds and Machines16:107-139.

Shultz, T. R. and A.C. Bale. (2001). Neural network simulation of infant familiarization to artificial sentences: Rule-like behavior without explicit rules and variables. Infancy 2, 501-536.


Bale, A. and C. Reiss. (2018). Phonology: A formal introduction. MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Book Chapters

Bale, A.(in press). Partitives, Comparatives and Proportional Measurement. In N. Gotzner and U. Sauerland (eds.), Measurements, Numerals andScales. Palgrave Macmillan.

Bale, A.(2021). Ontology, number agreement and the mass-count distinction. In T. Kiss, F. J. Pelletier, and H. Husić (eds.), The Semantics of the Mass-Count Distinction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.237-260

Bale, A.(2021). Number and the Mass-Count distinction. In P. Cabredo Hofherrand J. Doetjes (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Grammatical Number.Oxford University Press.

Bale, A.and B. Gillon. (2020). Re-examining the mass-count distinction. In Friederike Moltmann (ed.), Mass and Count in linguistics, philosophy and cognitive science. Amsterdam: Benjamins. pp. 16-36

Bale, A.(2020). Compounded Scales. In P. Hallman (ed), Interactions of Degree and Quantification. Syntax and Semantics, Volume 42. Leiden/Boston: Brill. pp. 205-230.

Barner, D., L. Hochstein, M. Rubenson, and A. Bale. (2018). Four-year-old children compute scalar implicatures in absence of epistemic reasoning. In Kristen Syrett and Sudha Arunachalam (eds.), Semantics in Language Acquisition. Amsterdam: Benjamins. pp. 326-349.

Bale, A.and D. Barner. (2013). Grammatical alternatives and pragmatic development. In Anamaria Falaus (ed.),Alternatives in Semantics: Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition.New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 238-266

Bale, A. and D. Barner. (2012). Semantic triggers, linguistic variation and the mass-count distinction. In Diane Massam (ed.), Count and Mass Across Languages. Oxford:Oxford University Press. pp.238-260.

May, R. and A. Bale. (2006). Inverse linking. In M. Everaert and H. van Riemsdijk (eds.),Blackwell Companion to Syntax. Oxford: Blackwell.

Bibliographies and Encyclopedia Entries

Barner, D. and A. Bale. (2011). Mass-count distinction. In M. Aronoff (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies Online. Oxford University Press.


Bale, A., Schwarz, B. and Shanks, D. (2019). Monotonicity restored: more never means purer. In Edited by Julian J. Schlöder, DeanMcHugh, and Floris Roelofsen (eds.) Proceedings of the 22nd Amsterdam Colloquium. 445-454.

Bale, A. and B. Schwarz. (2019). Reverse proportionality without context dependent standards. In M. Teresa Espinal, Elena Castroviejo, Manuel Leonetti, Louise McNally and Cristina Real-Puigdollers (eds.) Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 23, vol. 1, pp. 93–107.Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra (Cerdanyola del Vallès).

Bale, A. (2014). To agree without AGREE: The case for semantic agreement. In H-L. Huang,E. Poole and A. Rysling (eds.) NELS 43: Proceedings of the 43rd annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, v1. 13-24.

Bale, A. (2013). Number, competition and syntactic complexity. In Y.Fainleib, N. LaCara and Y. Park (eds.) NELS 41: Proceedings of the 41st annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, v1. 57-70.

McClay, Elise, C. Little, H. Noguchi, E. Olson, A. Bale, J. Coon and G. Cook (2013). Using technology to Bridge the Gap between Speakers, Learners and Linguists. In M. J. Norris and E. Anonby (eds.) Proceedings of the 17th Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages. pp. 199-200.

Bale, A., M. Gagnon and H. Khanjian. (2011). Cross-linguistic representations of numerals and number marking. In N.Li and D. Lutz (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) XX. pp. 582-598

Barner, A., N. Brooks and A. Bale (2011). Quantity implicature and access to scalar alternatives in language acquisition. In N.Li and D. Lutz (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) XX. pp. 525-554.

Brooks, N., A. Bale and D. Barner. (2010). Accessing the unsaid: The role of scalar alternatives in children’s pragmatic inference. In S. Ohlsson and R. Catrambone (eds.) Proceedings of the Thirty-second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. pp. 1178-1183.

Bale, A. (2009) Yet more evidence for the emptiness of plurality. InA. Schardl, M. Walkow & M. Abdurrahman (eds.), NELS 38: Proceedings of the 38th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, v.1. 75-88.

Bale, A. and H. Khanjian (2009). Classifiers and number marking. In T. Friedman and S. Ito (eds.), Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) XVIII. . Ithaca, New York: CLC Publications.73-89

Bale, A. (2006). Quantifiers, ‘again’ and the complexity of verb phrases. In E. Georgala and J. Howell (eds.), Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) XV. Ithaca, New York: CLC Publications.

Shultz, T. R. and A. C. Bale. (2000). Infant familiarization to artificial sentences: Rule-like behavior without explicit rules and variables. Proceedings of the Twenty-second Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 459-463). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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