The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 2/4 - Ted Levin and 2/5 - Hrayr Khanjian

Syntax Square is scheduled for Tuesdays at 1-2pm this semester. The organizers are Ruth Brillman and Tingchun Chen — please contact them for scheduling issues, if you have ongoing or completed syntactic work you’d like to share, or if there’s an interesting article/book you’d like to discuss.

This week, there are two sessions of Syntax Square for WCCFL practice talks.

Speaker: Ted Levin
Title: Untangling the Balinese bind: Binding and voice in Austronesian
Date/Time: Monday, Feb 4, 1:30-2:30p
Location: 32-D461

Full abstract is available. (pdf)

Voice alternations in Balinese interact with binding phenomena in a way that appears problematic for standard views of the A/A-bar distinction. In simple sentences, movement to Spec-TP does not create new antecedents for binding, suggesting that Spec-TP is an A-bar position. In raising constructions, however, movement to the higher Spec-TP does create new antecedents for binding, behavior expected of an A-position. This paradox is dubbed the Balinese Bind by Wechsler (1998), who uses the phenomenon to demonstrate the superiority of HPSG approaches. In this paper, I argue that the paradox is illusory, and that Balinese Spec-TP is an unambiguous A-position, if we adopt a new account of the Balinese voice system and the Agree-based theory of Binding advanced by Rooryck and Vanden Wyngaerd (2011).

Speaker: Hrayr Khanjian
Title: Complementizer concord in Western Armenian
Date/Time: Tuesday, Feb 5, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

Full abstract is available. (pdf)

This paper accounts for the typologically unique double headed CP structure found in Western Armenian (WA), as an instance of concord. Certain CPs in WA can have two heads, where one is head-initial and the other is head-final. For these phrases, it is possible to omit one of the heads, and end up with either a head-initial or head-final phrase. These double headed CPs present two major challenges which I present solutions for. First, how to account for the phonological and syntactic differences between the head-initial and the head-final CPs. Second, how to compositionally derive the desired semantics of the doubly headed CPs.