The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

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).