If you had the feeling that something was missing a few weeks ago, perhaps it’s because Chris Kennedy was gone off to Germany at the end of last month at the 2010 Conference of the German Society for Linguistics (DGfS). Chris gave a talk during that conference’s workshop on Subjective Meaning: Alternatives to Relativism, entitled “Where does relativity come from?”
Archive for the ‘talks’ Category
David Pesetsky (MIT) will be on campus next week on Thursday, March 4. He’ll give a talk on “Russian case morphology and the syntactic categories” (abstract below) at 10:30 a.m.
Abstract (for U. of C. talk)
Sometimes it is the oddest facts that provide the best clues to significant properties of language, because their very oddity limits the space in which we are likely to search for possible explanations. In this talk, I argue that the strange behavior of Russian nominal phrases with paucal numerals (‘two’, ‘three’ and ‘four’) provide clues of just this type concerning the syntactic side of morphological case.
When a nominal phrase like the Russian counterpart of ‘these last two beautiful tables’ occupies a nominative environment, the pre-numeral demonstrative and adjective (‘these last’) bear nominative plural morphology, and the numeral itself is nominative. The post-numeral adjective (‘beautfiul’), however, is often genitive plural; and the noun (‘table’) is genitive singular — a situation that the illustrious Russian grammarian Peshkovsky (1956) characterized as “a typical example of the degree to which grammatical and logical thinking may diverge”.
I suggest that the behavior of these phrases is actually entirely logical — once one adopts a particular structural analysis of the Russian DP and a particular view of the nature of case morphology. Developing ideas by Richards (2007), I propose that Russian is a covert case-stacking language in which the realization of outer case morphemes suppresses the pronunciation of inner morphemes — with this process restricted, however, by the phonological freezing effect of phase spell-out (Chomsky 1995; 2001). The case affixes themselves — traditionally classified using case-specific sui generis terminology (nominative, genitive, etc.) — are actually instantiations of the various syntactic categories: N, P and V. The interaction of this proposal with the theory of phases and spellout raises at least the possibility that there is no special theory of morphological case.
Due to job talks this month, the 2009-2010 colloquium series has had a delayed winter-quarter start. For all those waiting in eager anticipation, colloquia will finally resume next week, Thursday, February 25, with a talk by UChicago’s Katherine Kinzler (Psychology). More on her lab’s research can be found here. As usual, we’ll begin at 3:30 in Cobb 201, followed by tea at 5:00 in the department lounge. See you there!
The Department of Linguistics will have its first colloquium of the (new) decade in a few weeks. For now, you can content yourself with our colloquium schedule for Winter quarter 2010 (abstracts available soon):
- February 25: Katherine Kinzler, University of Chicago
- March 4: Craige Roberts, Ohio State University
- March 11: Marcela Depiante, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
This is also a good time to remind everyone to hit up the various graduate workshops affiliated with our department. There’s something for everybody, including Semiotics: Culture in Context, Workshop in Semantics and Philosophy of Language, Workshop on Language and Cognition, and Workshop on Language Variation and Change, all of which have several talks scheduled for the coming weeks and months.