The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling Lunch 3/19 - Bradley Larson & Nicholas Longenbaugh

Speaker: Bradley Larson (Harvard) & Nicholas Longenbaugh (MIT)
Title: Subject/Object Parity in Niuean and the Labeling Algorithm
Time: Thurs 3/19, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

We present novel data from the Polynesian language Niuean, based on recent fieldwork, that shows a lack of many expected structural asymmetries between subjects and objects. This structural parity runs counter to traditional theoretical and empirical differences between subjects and objects. For example, languages like English show ECP effects such that operations over objects are generally freer than those over subjects, and languages like Chol specifically privilege operations over subjects (Coon 2010). In order to account for the Niuean in a way that does not make incorrect or ad hoc predictions for other types of languages, we develop notions from Chomsky’s (2013) labeling algorithm and argue for a lack of relevant labeling in the domain where subjects and objects are potential operands.