The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, November 9th, 2015

Phonology Circle 11/9 - Laura McPherson

Speaker: Laura McPherson (Dartmouth)
Title: Phrasal morphophonology: Dogon tonosyntax and beyond
Date: Monday, November 9th
Time: 5-6:30
Place: 32-D831

How do we account for phonological alternations at the phrase level, triggered not by adjacent phonological triggers or phrasing, but instead by specific morphosyntactic elements? Taking Dogon tonosyntax as the main case study, I propose a class of phenomena grouped under the heading “phrasal morphophonology” that can result when phrasal phonology undergoes restructuring. I argue that these phenomena are best accounted for in an extension of Construction Morphology, where the surface changes are phonological idiosyncrasies in lexicalized phrasal constructions. I discuss the diachronic development of phrasal morphophonological systems and suggest that Celtic mutations and French liaison may also fall under this heading.


Syntax Square 11/10 - Bruna Karla Pereira

Speaker: Bruna Karla Pereira (UFVJM; CAPES Foundation - Ministry of Education of Brazil)
Title: Allocutive agreement and the saP in dialectal Brazilian Portuguese
Date: Tuesday, November 10rd
Time: 10:00am-11:00am
Place: 32-D461


Ling Lunch 11/12 - Juliet Stanton

Speaker: Juliet Stanton (MIT)
Title: Trigger Deletion in Gurindji
Time: Thursday, November 12th, 12:30-1:45 pm
Place: 32-D461

It is generally accepted in the literature that harmony processes are myopic. For example, a regressive harmony process operating on the string […x y z…], will spread from z to y, without looking ahead to check whether it can spread all the way to x, the end of the domain. Accounting for the apparent absence of non-myopic patterns has led analysts to propose substantial revisions to the architecture of classical OT (e.g. Wilson 2006, McCarthy 2009). In this talk, however, I suggest that a non-myopic, long-distance nasal harmony process is attested in Gurindji (Pama-Nyungan; McConvell 1988). When full application of harmony would lead to an undesirable result, the trigger deletes, preventing harmony from applying altogether. Trigger deletion is predicted by frameworks that permit non-myopic interactions, like parallel OT; the existence of the Gurindji pattern suggests that this is a feature, not a bug.

Language Acquisition Lab Meeting 11/12 - Koji Sugisaki

Speaker: Koji Sugisaki (Mie University)
Title: An Experimental Investigation into Sluicing in Child Japanese
Date and room: Thursday: 5-6:30; 32-D461

Sluicing is one of the best investigated instances of ellipsis in the theoretical literature. Despite its theoretical importance, few studies have examined children’s acquisition of this ellipsis phenomenon. In light of this background, this study investigates experimentally whether Japanese-speaking preschool children are sensitive to the identity condition on sluicing proposed by Merchant (2013), which requires that the sluiced constituent and its antecedent must match in voice (active/passive). If this ban on voice mismatches in sluicing follows from certain principles of UG as the theory claims, it is predicted that the knowledge of this constraint should be in the grammar of preschool children. In order to evaluate this prediction, we conducted an experiment with 21 Japanese-speaking children (mean age 5;07). The results of our experiment, which employed a question-after-story task, suggest that these children are in fact sensitive to the ban on voice mismatches in sluicing proposed by Merchant (2013). This finding would constitute a small but significant step toward understanding when and how children acquire the knowledge of sluicing and its constraints.