Whamit!

The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, November 21st, 2011

Phonology Circle, 11/21 - Ayaka Sugawara  

Speaker: Ayaka Sugawara
Title: Accent of Japanese given names
Location: 32D-831
Time: Monday, Nov 21, 5:00pm

In this talk, I will show that there are gaps between the accent patterns of Japanese common nouns and those of Japanese given names. For example, although an n-mora common noun generally has n+1 contrastive accent patterns including an unaccented one (e.g. háshi ‘chopsticks,’ hashí ‘bridge,’ hashi ‘edge’), the accent pattern that given names show is more limited (e.g. okµ’µ, *µµ’, *µµ). To capture the special accent pattern Japanese given names show, I will propose (i) that the given names are accented in the default case, regardless of the length of the name, (ii) that some suffixes make names unaccented, (iii) that some suffixes do not allow accent to immediately precede them, and (iv) that longer names (6-or-more-mora names), which can be analyzed as being divided into two parts, behave according to compounding rules. I am pursuing an OT analysis for this, but this is very much a work in progress, so I will be all-ears to the advice you might have.

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Syntax Square 11/22 - Snejana Iovtcheva  

Speaker: Snejana Iovtcheva
Title: WH-questions in Bulgarian: Evidence for [focus]-movement in a Feature Based Syntactic Theory
Date/Time: Tuesday, Nov 22, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

The presentation is based on my masters thesis from Syracuse University, in which I analyze the multiple wh-fronting (MWF) structure of Bulgarian under the Move-F(eature) approach to syntactic displacement (Chomsky 1995, 2004). I propose an alternative syntactic model that challenges Boškovič’s (1998) and Lambova’s (2001) move-to-SpecCP analyses by proposing that wh-phrases do not target SpecCP in Bulgarian. Instead wh-phrases move to a preverbal focus position, which is the SpecTP following Motapanyane’s (1997) proposal that [focus] is generated in T in Romanian. The proposed clausal structure ultimately allows us to: (1) propose a unified [focus]-driven discourse-oriented movement with a systematic featural distribution, (2) capture the distribution of focalized constituents not only in interrogative, but also in declarative clauses and in yes/no questions in both root and embedded contexts, and (3) provide an explanation for the different behavior of relative pronouns and wh-phrases in Bulgarian. In addition, my analysis provides an account of the previously discussed properties of the Bulgarian MWF, such as the V2-order, the Superiority effects, and the obligatory Pair-list interpretation.

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Wampanoag film screened  

A few photos from the lively discussion after last Thursday evening’s screening of the film We still live here (Âs Nutayuneân). (About 150 people attended!) Amidst a series of great questions about language revival, Universal Grammar, and how new words are incorporated into the Wampanoag lexicon, Jessie Little Doe Baird and Norvin Richards also took time to explain the Wampanoag version of the Algonkian inverse construction to us:

left to right: Jessie, Norvin, and Nitana Hicks

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