The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Amy Rose Deal at MIT

Amy Rose Deal (UC Berkeley) is visiting the department this week. In addition to her Colloquium talk on Friday, she will give two talks:

Title: Cyclicity and connectivity in Nez Perce relative clauses
Time: Wednesday, 04/13/2016, 1:00-2:30pm (note special time)***
Venue: 34-304
Abstract: This talk centers on two aspects of movement in relative clauses, focusing on evidence from Nez Perce.

First, I argue that relativization always involves cyclic A’ movement, even in monoclausal relatives. Rather than moving directly to Spec,CP, the relative element moves there via an intermediate position in an A’ outer specifier of the TP immediately subjacent to relative C. Cyclicity of this type suggests that the TP sister of relative C constitutes a phase — a result whose implications extend to “highest subject restriction” effects in resumptive relatives as well as an ill-understood corner of the English that-trace effect.

Second, I argue that Nez Perce relativization provides new evidence for an ambiguity thesis for relative clauses, according to which some but not all relatives are derived by a head-raising. The argument comes from connectivity and anticonnectivity in morphological case. These new data complement the range of standard arguments for head-raising, which draw primarily on connectivity effects at the syntax-semantics interface.

***Unfortunately, this time conflicts with Giorgio Magri’s lecture. Also, this is the usual LFRG time, which will instead take place on Friday.

Title: Interaction and satisfaction: toward a theory of agreement
Time: Thursday, 04/14/2016, 5:00-6:30pm (note special time)
Venue: 36-155 (note special location)

The operation Agree has typically been modelled as a device for repairing specific lexical deficiencies by feature transfer: [uF] on a head causes the head to probe, and transfer of [F] from a goal causes probing to stop. In this talk, I start with a different conception of Agree, one based not on lexical deficiencies (i.e. u-features) but on the ability to create redundancy. Probes, I propose, interact with (copy) all phi features they encounter until such point as they meet a satisfaction (halt) condition. A probe satisfied by a rather specific feature, such as [addressee], will nevertheless interact with the full phi-set, resulting in a “more than you bargained for” system of agreement. My primary empirical case for such a system comes from complementizer agreement in Nez Perce. I show how the theory is able to model not only the conditions on agreement with the complementizer, but also the workings of agreement in relative clauses and the non-interaction of agreement with A-scrambling.