The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Polinsky Lab reading group: Agent-Extraction/Anti-Agreement

Jessica Coon and Pedro Mateo Pedro are organizing a fall reading group on Agent Extraction phenomena. Meetings will take place Tuesdays at 4:00 at Harvard (exact location TBD), beginning 9/14. If you are interested in attending, please email Jessica Coon (jcoon@fas.harvard.edu) for more information.

Agent-Extraction/Anti-Agreement Reading Group Description:

This reading group investigates restrictions on the extraction of transitive subjects, with special focus on Mayan languages. We begin with an in depth look at so-called “Agent Focus” (AF) constructions in the Mayan language family. AF constructions occur when transitive subjects are questioned, relativized, or fronted for topic/focus (A-Bar extracted) and have been described as semantically and syntactically transitive (i.e. two full DP arguments), but morphologically intransitive (only one argument may agree) (Aissen 1999). After reading about AF and its range of variation in Mayan, we turn to similar “Anti-Agreement” effects more broadly as they have been described in certain Austronesian languages (e.g. Chung 1998) and in some languages of Africa (e.g. Ouhalla 1993).