The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

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.