The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 5/1 - Mitcho Erlewine

Speaker: Mitcho Erlewine
Title: Kaqchikel Agent Focus and the syntax of extraction
Date/Time: Tuesday, May 1, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

Agent Focus (AF) in Mayan languages is a morphological change to transitive verbs which is traditionally described as obligatory whenever a subject is A’-extracted. In this talk I present evidence from my ongoing fieldwork on Kaqchikel that AF morphology does not simply appear when the subject of a transitive verb is A’-extracted. Rather, AF morphology occurs when the subject of a transitive verb moves to a particular, immediately preverbal position. This can be shown by a careful look at sentences involving multiple A’-extractions to the same verbal periphery. I will discuss what this might tell us about the nature of AF and argue against recent Case-based approaches to AF (Coon, Mateo Pedro, Preminger, ms; Assmann et al, 2012) for Kaqchikel.

The data also features some fun scope judgments… semanticists also welcome!