Archive for the ‘colloquia’ Category

Bobaljik Colloquium on Thursday

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Getting ‘Better': On Comparative Suppletion and Related Topics

Jonathan Bobaljik
University of Connecticut
Location: Cobb 201
Time: 3:30pm

I present and discuss four or five universals drawn from across-linguistic study of comparative and superlative morphology. Special attention is given to three generalizations regarding root suppletion in the comparative degree of adjectives (good-better, bad-worse). These generalizations, I contend, have a variety consequences for morphology, semantics and perhaps syntax, particularly in the areas of lexical decomposition (at whatever level this obtains) and the formal treatment of suppletion vs. irregularity. Although comparative suppletion is rare (though attested) outside of Indo-European, and although the data sample is small within any one language, the generalizations over the total data set are surprisingly robust. Two generalizations are given here:

The Comparative-Superlative Generalization:

If the comparative degree of an adjective is built on a suppletive root/stem, then the superlative is also suppletive. The superlative may use the same root as the comparative, or may be further suppletive, but will not use the basic adjectival root. Thus the schema in (1), where A, B, C refer to phonologically unrelated roots.

(1) A – A – A completely regular: short, short-er, short-est
A – B – B suppletive: bad, worse, worst
A – B – C doubly suppletive: Latin ‘good': bonus – melior -optimus
A – B – A *unattested* * bad – worse – baddest

I argue that this generalization favours analyses in which the superlative is not merely related to the comparative (e.g., both involve degree operators), but is rather _derived_from_ the comparative: [[[SHORT]-ER]-(ES)T]. Put somewhat more contentiously, I argue (with a qualification) that UG excludes a morpheme “-EST” (Superlative) that attaches directly to adjectival roots.

The Comparative-Change-of-State Generalization:

If the comparative degree of an adjective is built on a suppletive root, then a derived change-of-state verb (inchoative or causative) will also be suppletive. The verb may use the same root as the comparative (bad – worse – worsen; bonus -melior – meliorare), or may be further suppletive, but will not use the basic adjectival root.

By parity of reasoning to the first section, I must conclude (contra Dowty and others) that change-of-state verbs always include the comparative at some level of representation (cf. Kennnedy & Levin). I will defend this view against a variety of possible objections and examine apparent counter-examples.

CORRECTION: Bobaljik Colloquium Next Thursday (5/29)

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Getting ‘Better': On Comparative Suppletion and Related Topics

Jonathan Bobaljik
University of Connecticut

I present and discuss four or five universals drawn from across-linguistic study of comparative and superlative morphology. Special attention is given to three generalizations regarding root suppletion in the comparative degree of adjectives (good-better, bad-worse). These generalizations, I contend, have a variety consequences for morphology, semantics and perhaps syntax, particularly in the areas of lexical decomposition (at whatever level this obtains) and the formal treatment of suppletion vs. irregularity. Although comparative suppletion is rare (though attested) outside of Indo-European, and although the data sample is small within any one language, the generalizations over the total data set are surprisingly robust. Two generalizations are given here:

The Comparative-Superlative Generalization:

If the comparative degree of an adjective is built on a suppletive root/stem, then the superlative is also suppletive. The superlative may use the same root as the comparative, or may be further suppletive, but will not use the basic adjectival root. Thus the schema in (1), where A, B, C refer to phonologically unrelated roots.

(1) A – A – A completely regular: short, short-er, short-est
A – B – B suppletive: bad, worse, worst
A – B – C doubly suppletive: Latin ‘good': bonus – melior -optimus
A – B – A *unattested* * bad – worse – baddest

I argue that this generalization favours analyses in which the superlative is not merely related to the comparative (e.g., both involve degree operators), but is rather _derived_from_ the comparative: [[[SHORT]-ER]-(ES)T]. Put somewhat more contentiously, I argue (with a qualification) that UG excludes a morpheme “-EST” (Superlative) that attaches directly to adjectival roots.

The Comparative-Change-of-State Generalization:

If the comparative degree of an adjective is built on a suppletive root, then a derived change-of-state verb (inchoative or causative) will also be suppletive. The verb may use the same root as the comparative (bad – worse – worsen; bonus -melior – meliorare), or may be further suppletive, but will not use the basic adjectival root.

By parity of reasoning to the first section, I must conclude (contra Dowty and others) that change-of-state verbs always include the comparative at some level of representation (cf. Kennnedy & Levin). I will defend this view against a variety of possible objections and examine apparent counter-examples.

Hinterwimmer Colloquium on Thursday

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Different alternatives for topics and foci: Evidence from indefinites and multiple wh

Stefan Hinterwimmer (joint work with Sophie Repp)
Zentrum fur Allgemeine Sprachwisenschaft, Berlin

Thursday May 15, 2008
Cobb 201, 3.30- 5 pm

In gapping, topical indefinites as well as wh-phrases can contrast with surface-identical antecedents if the contrast involved is the first of the two (or more) contrast pairs in the gapping coordination. This is not possible for most other types of expressions. We argue that both topical indefinites and wh-phrases introduce a discourse referent with a fixed address, on the basis of which referents introduced by surface-identical expressions can be contrasted. For the indefinites, we argue that the first contrast pair is a pair of contrastive topics which can, at the same time, be a pair of aboutness topics. These introduce individual addresses (Reinhart 1981). For wh-phrases we follow the assumption that they introduce discourse referents by presupposition. Multiple wh-interrogatives then introduce functions by presup po sition whose domain is provided by the first wh-phrase. The function is specified by giving its extension, i.e. the respective pair-list.

González-Vilbazo and López Colloquium on Thursday

Monday, April 28th, 2008

University of Chicago, Linguistics Colloquium

Syntactic phases and Codeswitching

Kay-Eduardo González-Vilbazo and Luis López
University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

Thursday, May 1 2008
Cobb 201

Abstract
Since Chomsky (1995) there has been ample debate on what exactly the role of little v is (see for instance Kratzer 1996, Marantz 1997 for two early proposals). After Chomsky (2000) and the development of phases as a theoretical construct, the question of little v’s role has become even more complex. This presentation aims to show that the linguistic competence of bilingual code-switchers provides a rich data base to test the value of the little v hypothesis. That is because speakers can switch between a lexical expression of little v and its complement VP, allowing us to extricate their respective contributions to the make-up of the sentence.

The grammar of bilingual code-switchers allows for a structure consisting of a light verb in one language (L1) followed by the main predicate with its arguments in the other (L2). This is exemplified in (1), with L1 Spanish and L2 German. The striking fact is the following: although the constituents of a are fully German in structure, the constituent order, prosodic structure and expression of focus/background of a itself follow the rules and restrictions of Spanish.

(1) Juan ha hecho [a verkaufen die Bücher].
Juan has done sell the books
‘Juan has sold the books.’

Juan ha hecho –> L1, Spanish

Verkaufen die Bücher –> L2, German

We find that little v is directly involved in at least three linguistic properties: linearization of the lexical verb V and its complements, the prosodic structure of VP in neutral contexts and the expression of Focus/Background structure. Thus, features of little v determine (at least) the outcome of the mapping between syntax and PF and syntax and information structure.

Enoch Aboh Colloquium on Friday

Monday, March 10th, 2008

There will be a special colloquium next Friday from Enoch Aboh of the University of Amsterdam and MIT. The title of the talk is “A Typology of Adpositions” and you can find the abstract here:

http://clml.uchicago.edu/svn/filedetails.php?repname=CLML+Repository&path=%2FPapers%2FPrePostpositionsChicago.pdf

The talk will be held at the normal colloquium time in the normal colloquium location (3:30 in the CSL)