The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 4/30 - Isa Bayirli

Speaker: Isa Bayirli
Title: On an Impossible Affix
Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 30, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

This talk presents a new argument to substantiate the view that the morphological identity of a grammatical object is not lexical idiosyncrasy and that it reflects the syntactic behavior of this object. The empirical claim of this talk will be:

A topic or focus associated morpheme is never an affix.

I will argue that this follows from the syntactic fact that a syntactic head with topic or focus feature cannot trigger head movement. Evidence will be provided from Turkish, Bulgarian, Japanese, Finnish and Pazar Laz. I will show that when we translate these ideas into a non-lexical based implementation of Mirror Theory, we make the prediction that in those languages where there is always a suffix on the verb, this suffix cannot be a topic-focus associated morpheme. I will finally show that the prediction seems to be true.