The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 9th, 2013

Phonology Circle 9/9 - Organizational Meeting  

There will be an organization meeting of the Phonology Circle on Monday, Sept 9 at 5:30pm in 32-D831. If you would like to reserve a date but cannot attend, please contact Michael Kenstowicz.


Syntax Square 9/10 - Ted Levin  

Syntax Square will be held on Tuesdays 1-2p this semester. This informal student-run talk series is for all kinds of presentations including works in progress and recaps of articles/conference talks. The organizers for this term are Ruth Brillman and Miriam Nussbaum — contact them if you’re interested in giving a presentation.

Speaker: Ted Levin
Title: Balinese Pseudo-Noun Incorporation: Licensing under Morphological Merger
Date/Time: Tuesday, Sept 10, 1-2p
Room: 32-D461

A full abstract is available (pdf).

Head Movement of a nominal into a verb (Noun Incorporation) has two consequences. The nominal is adjacent to the verb and is (possibly) licensed without Case (Baker 1988). This raises the question of whether Head Movement or the head-head adjacency it creates is responsible for licensing. In this talk, I argue for the latter based on properties of Balinese (Austronesian) Pseudo-Noun Incorporation (PNI). Balinese PNI exhibits properties problematic for previous account of the phenomenon; only Agents including some definite ones (pronouns and Proper Names) undergo PNI. Themes, unexpectedly, never do (contra Farkas & de Swart 2004 inter alia). Furthermore, Balinese PNI is sensitive to nominal-internal word order. As such, it can neither be described as an instance of string-vacuous Head Movement (Baker 2012) or a bare NP (Massam 2001). I posit that Balinese PNI occurs when a caseless nominal head (N or D) happens to be adjacent to V. Head-head adjacency licenses that nominal via Morphological Merger (Marantz 1984).


No Ling-Lunch This Week  

Ling-Lunch is an informal setting for presenting talks on any linguistic topic, scheduled for Thursdays 12:30-1:45p. If you would like to present, please contact the organizers for this term, Isa Bayirli and Juliet Stanton, at ling-lunch-organizers@mit.edu.


LFRG 9/13 - Ruth Brillman  

Speaker: Ruth Brillman
Date/Time: Friday, 13 September, 1 pm
Location: 32-D831
Topic: Parasitic Degree Phrases (Nissenbaum & Schwarz 2011)

I’ll discuss Nissenbaum & Schwarz’s (2011) Natural Language Semantics paper “Parasitic Degree Phrases” (available here), which argues that sentences like “John is too rich for the monastery to hire ___,” dubbed gapped degree phrases, contain an instance of null-operator movement identical to the null operators which arguably appear (Chomsky 1986, Nissenbaum 2000) in parasitic gap constructions like “Who did the monastery hire without talking to ___?”). Since gapped degree phrases, unlike their parasitic gap counterparts, don’t appear dependent on a prior instance of A-bar movement, this sort of construction at first appears at odds with a null operator analysis. In fact however, N&S claim that exactly this kind of structure is predicted by Nissenbaum’s (2000) analysis.

Over the summer break…  

  • Michelle Fullwood and Timothy O’Donnell (MIT BCS) presented their paper Learning Nonconcatenative Morphology at the Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics (CMCL) workshop, collocated with the Association of Computational Linguistics meeting in Bulgaria in August 2013.
  • Suyeon Yun presented Two types of right dislocation in Korean at the 15th Harvard Symposium on Korean Linguistics, held August 3-4.
  • Sam Steddy reports: “I spent the summer traveling around the linguistic community in the UK. I gave two talks: A Distributed Morphology View of Auxiliary Splits in Upper-Southern Italian at the Cambridge Italian Dialect Syntax-Morphology Meeting in June, and The Syntax of Distributive and Collective Pluralities and the Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of Great Britain, at SOAS, London, in August. I also attended a workshop on Phonological Typology at Oxford, in August, where Donca was presenting, and the ACTL Summerschool on Morphology at UCL, where a week’s lectures were given by [recent MIT grads] Omer Preminger and Yasutada Sudo.”

    OmerFa12 YasuFa12

  • Anthony Brohan presented a paper (with Jeff Mielke, NCSU) entitled A typology of cross-linguistically frequent segmental alternations at the Oxford Phonological Typology workshop in August, and on Father’s Day, he climbed Mt. Baker (10,781ft) in Washington.