Archive for the ‘visits’ Category

Arregi’s Colloquium on Thursday

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Modularity in Morphology: The Case of Basque Finite Auxiliaries

Karlos Arregi
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Thur, Feb 21 2008 3:30-5:00pm, Cobb 201

Many modern theories of morphology are highly modular: morphological phenomena with different properties are accounted for by separate modules of grammar. In this talk, I argue for a particular view of the modularity of morphology based on examination of Basque finite auxiliaries, which have a complex system of clitics that cross-reference ergative, absolutive and dative arguments in the sentence. I argue that a principled analysis of several generalizations regarding these clitics must involve a theory of word-formation with separate modules that have their own well-formedness principles and repair operations. Special attention will be given to verbal forms where these requirements of the separate modules conflict with each other. It will be shown that these conflicts are resolved in a manner that is best accounted for by a theory where the modules involved in word formation are derivationally ordered.

Markman’s talk on Tuesday

Monday, February 18th, 2008

On the parametric variation of case and agreement: implications for (non)-configurationality

Vita Markman
Simon Fraser University

Henry Hinds [5734 S. Ellis Ave.] Room 101.

Tues Feb 19, 2008 3:30-5:00pm

In this talk I will argue that case and agreement features are subject to parametric variation and explore the consequences of this claim with a particular attention to word order. Departing from the view that case and agreement are present in the syntax of every language, but may not be overtly realized (Rouveret and Vergnaud 1980; Chomsky 1981, 1995, 2000, 2001; Harley 1995; Bittner and Hale 1996; Sigurdsson 2003), I will argue that languages can choose to have case features, agreement features, some combination of the two or none at all. The main focus of the talk will be on languages that have agreement features but no case. Specifically, I will demonstrate that languages without case features, but with agreement features will be non-configurational. These include Mohawk, Kinande, and Chichewa. In contrast, languages with case features may allow but not require NP dislocation in the presence of agreement. These are all of the Indo-European languages, Japanese, and Nahuatl.

In addition to addressing the effects of the parametric variation in case and agreement on word order, I will also address a number of other syntactic phenomena that pose a problem for the ‘universal’ approach to case and agreement and are better understood if these features are taken to vary parametrically.

Kandybowicz’s talk on Thursday

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Sometimes Syntax is Syntax. Sometimes Syntax is Phonology

Jason Kandybowicz
Swarthmore College

Thursday, February 14, 2008, 3:30-5:00pm
Cobb 201

In recent years, the field of syntax has seen a shift toward explorations and explanations of syntactic phenomena cast in terms of the interfacing sub-systems of grammar; namely, the phonological and semantic components. This modus operandi necessitates a broader knowledge base than was previously thought necessary. It also entails that the more rigorous analyses in this vein will likely come from those who study languages holistically. Yet curiously enough, holism is far from being the battle cry in today’s interface-driven syntactic frameworks. In this talk, I advance an argument for linguistic holism on the basis of two case studies drawn from the Nupe language, a Benue Congo language spoken in south central Nigeria.

The first case study deals with the language’s restriction on extraction from perfect clauses. The second case study is similar in that it too deals with an extraction restriction. In this case, the restriction involves the prohibition of embedded subject extraction across a complementizer – the so-called Comp-trace effect. Although the phenomena investigated in both case studies have been traditionally referred to as “syntactic” in both the Nupe literature and in the generative literature more broadly, I show that the former is truly syntactic in the narrow sense, while the latter is more phonological in nature. In this respect, then, it is difficult to know in advance of analysis whether a purported syntactic phenomenon is truly syntactic after all. Thus, in light of situations like these, holistic approaches to language take on an elevated level of importance. The talk also addresses a number of theoretical issues raised by the core empirical problems of each case study, including, but not limited to, the syntax-phonology interface.

Ernestus Colloquium on Thursday

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Gradient phonological generalizations in speech processing

Mirjam Ernestus
Radboud University Nijmegen &
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Thursday Jan. 10, 2008
Cobb 201, 3.30-5 pm

Several studies have shown that speakers are sensitive to the absolute and statistically gradient phonological patterns in their mental lexicon. Participants prefer words conforming to these patterns, and they are slower in producing morphologically regular word forms violating the patterns. In this talk I will discuss two series of experiments that further investigate the role of gradient patterns in speech processing. The first series suggest that generalizations based on intraparadigmatic relations, between the forms of single word, have a stronger effect than those based on interparadigmatic relations, between the same types of forms of different words. The second series of experiments shows that phonologically gradient patterns affect also speech comprehension, even when listeners are focusing on content instead of form. This shows that gradient generalizations play a role in everyday language processing.

Pauline Jacobsen at Semantics & Philosophy of Language Workshop

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Pauline Jacobson (Brown University) will talk about “What Ellipsis tells us about (Direct) Compositionality – and Vice Versa” on Friday, November 9th in Wieboldt 111 at the Semantics and Philosophy of Language Workshop.

Susan Goldin-Meadow at the Workshop on Language and Cognition

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Susan Goldin-Meadow (U. Chicago, Beardsley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor) will talk about “Gesture’s Role in Creating and Learning Language” at the Workshop on Language and Cognition on Friday, November 9 at 4pm in Green Hall, Room 104.

Jason Stanley Colloquium

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

The Department of Linguistics presents

Jason Stanley

Rutgers University

Knowing How in Romance

October 18, Thursday, 3pm, Cobb 201

Jason Stanley’s talk on Friday

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Workshop on Semantics and Philosophy of Language presents

Jason Stanley

Rutgers University

Sly Pete: Indicative Conditionals and Context Dependence

October 19, Friday, 11am – 1pm, Wieboldt 111