Archive for February, 2008

Symposium on Phonologization schedule posted

Monday, February 18th, 2008

The schedule of the Symposium on Phonologization is now available at The symposium will take place on April 25-26 at the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

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.

Runner’s talk at Northwestern

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Northwestern University Department of Linguistics Colloquium presents

On the Role of Syntax on the Interpretation of Elided Reflexives

Jeffrey Runner
University of Rochester

The main explanations for the exceptional behavior of reflexives in “representational NPs” (RNPs), e.g., ‘a picture of herself’, rely on syntactic or argument structure (Chomsky, 1986; Davies & Dubinsky, 2003; Pollard & Sag, 1992; Reinhart & Reuland, 1993). “Reference transfer” (RT) allows reference to a representation of a person by that person’s name, e.g., referring to a statue of Ringo Starr as ‘Ringo Starr’ (Jackendoff, 1992). Like RNP reflexives (Grodzinsky & Reinhart, 1993), RT reflexives may receive coreferential interpretations when elided (Lidz, 2001). Here I present evidence from collaborative work with Micah Goldwater (UT Austin) of two scene verification experiments and two “visual world” eye-tracking experiments suggesting that it may be the representational use of RNP reflexives- and not (just) the syntactic/argument structure- that allows for their exceptional behavior. Interesting differences are found between the two sets of experiments, which can also shed light on the approaches to ellipsis interpretation discussed by Kehler (2000) and Frazier & Clifton (2006).

Friday, February 15, 2008
3:30 p.m.
Chambers Hall (600 Foster Street), Lower Classroom Level