The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling Lunch 3/12 - Coppe van Urk

Speaker: Coppe van Urk (MIT)
Title: Movement in Dinka
Time: Thurs 3/12, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

In this talk, I examine the syntax of phrasal movement in Dinka (Nilotic; South Sudan). Most theoretical approaches to syntactic structure in some way distinguish at least three types of displacement: A-movement, A’-movement, and intermediate movement steps of a successive-cyclic dependency. I show that, in Dinka, these three movement types make use of the same two positions in the clause, one at the edge of the clause and one at the edge of the verb phrase, and have the same morphosyntactic repercussions for verb-second, voice, case, agreement, and binding. On the basis of these facts, I argue that all types of phrasal movement are established in the same way, as the reflex of a featural relation between a probe and a goal (Chomsky 1995, 2000, 2001), with the differences between them deriving only from independent properties of the features involved. In this framework, we can view Dinka as a language in which different movement-driving features act in unison, by virtue of being merged on the same head. After developing this argument, I discuss some of the ways in which we might derive the differences between A- and A’-movement, drawing on proposals by Takahashi and Hulsey (2009), Sauerland (1998, 2004), and Ruys (2000), among others.