The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 3/22 - Theresa Biberauer

Speaker: Theresa Biberauer (University of Cambridge)
Title: One peculiarity leads to another: insights from Afrikaans analyticity
Date/Time: Thursday, Mar 22, 12:30-1:45p
Location: 32-D461

This talk takes two superficially unconnected phenomena in Afrikaans – negation doubling by clause-final nie2 as in (1) and predicate doubling as in (2) – as its point of departure.

(1) Ekisnie1/nooittevredenie2
“I am not/never satisfied”
(2) a. SingSINGdaardieman!
“That man really sings with gusto!”
(2) b. GelukkigiseknouregtigGELUKKIG!
“As for being happy, I’m REALLY happy!”

Based on a combination of diachronic and synchronic considerations, I argue that these phenomena can in fact be connected and that doing so enables us to understand a third, from a Germanic perspective, very surprising fact, namely that Afrikaans readily permits embedded V2 wh-interrogatives, regardless of the nature of the selecting predicate. This latter property is shown in (3):

(3) a. Ekwonderwattereksamenskryfdiestudentevanaand
“I wonder what exam the students are writing tonight”
(3) b. Hullevindnetgouuitwiemoetdiekaartjiesgaankoop
“They’re just quickly finding out who needs to buy the tickets”

From a theoretical perspective, the significance of the data under discussion is argued to be i.a. the insight they deliver into the notion ‘acategorial element’ and the properties elements of this type exhibit in relation to the Final-over-Final Constraint (FOFC; Biberauer, Holmberg & Roberts 2007 et seq.), and also what they suggest about the underdiscussed question of the relationship between Minimalism’s putative phase heads and the more articulated functional domains assumed by cartographers.