The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, April 20th, 2015


MIT Linguistics is delighted to welcome the new students who will join our PhD program in the Fall, from A to П:

  • Rafael Abramovitz (University of Chicago)
  • Itai Bassi (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  • Justin Colley (University of New South Wales)
  • Colin Davis (University of Minnesota)
  • Suzana Fong (University of São Paulo)
  • Verena Hehl (University of Tübingen)
  • Maša Močnik (University of Ljubljana; University of Amsterdam)
  • Dmitry Privoznov (Moscow State University)

Van Urk to Queen Mary University of London

We are proud as can be to report that Coppe van Urk has accepted a position as Lecturer (= Assistant Professor) in Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London.  Congratulations, Coppe!!

Ling Lunch 4/23 - Seid Tvica

Speaker: Seid Tvica (MIT/ University of Amsterdam)
Title: Rich Agreement Hypothesis beyond Indo-European
Time: Thurs 4/23, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

It is well-established in the literature that many Germanic and Romance languages differ in the placement of adverbs, appearing either before or after the finite verb. This typological distinction is standardly accounted for via v-to-I0 movement, arguably triggered by the subject agreement features that are assumed to be located at I0 (cf. Roberts 1985; Kosmeijer 1986; Rohrbacher 1994; Vikner 1995; Bobaljik and Thráinsson 1998; Koeneman and Zeijlstra 2014, among many others). The observed correlation between the properties of agreement morphology and verb movement gave rise to the so-called “rich agreement hypothesis” (RAH) which, in its strong version, states that in controlled environments the finite verb moves to a vP-external position if and only if the agreement morphology is rich (cf. Koeneman and Zeijlstra 2014). Building on the work done so far in this talk I present the results of a typological investigation of RAH, showing that RAH holds across many languages, well beyond the Indo-European family. In particular, I will discuss verb movement in three unrelated non-Indo-European languages.

LFRG 4/23 - Cassandra Chapman

Speaker: Cassandra Chapman (McMaster/MIT)
Time: Thursday 4/23, 5:30-7
Location: 32-D831
Title: On the encoding of evidentiality in English: an experimental approach
Abstract: ChapmanDoranSchmidtke_LFRG_abstract_final

MIT Linguists at GLOW 38

GLOW 38 was held last week in Paris. Several third year students from MIT had poster presentations or talks:

Sabine Iatridou was also there and talked about Conditionals in Turkish and their absence.

Three recent alumni gave talks:

20th century MIT Linguistics was represented by two alumni, co-authors of the following papers:

Colloquium 4/24 - Ming Xiang

Speaker: Ming Xiang (University of Chicago)
Title: Parsing covert dependencies—the case of Mandarin wh-in-situ constructions
Date: Friday, April 24th
Time: 3:30-5:00p
Place: 32-141

While modeling cross-linguistic structural variations, linguistic analyses sometimes postulate abstract “covert” representations that do not have any morpho-phonological reflexes in the surface word string. Little is known as to whether and how such representations are constructed in language comprehension and production. In this talk, I will examine the processing of Mandarin wh-in-situ questions. Drawing on data from production, eyetracking-reading, and the speed-accuracy tradeoff paradigm, I will address two questions: (i) Does the parser construct a covert non-local syntactic dependency in processing? (ii) What is the parsing mechanism that supports such non-local dependencies? In particular, how is a “silent” scope position retrieved from memory? The current data suggests that the parser indeed constructs a covert dependency in real time processing, but the retrieval of the scope position is supported by two distinct (maybe simultaneous) mechanisms: one that relies on associative cue-based memory retrieval, and the other (cyclically) searches through intermediate clause edge positions.