The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 5/3 - Colin Davis

Speaker: Colin Davis (MIT)
Title: Locality and copular allomorphy in North Azeri
Date: Tuesday, May 3rd
Time: 1:00pm-2:00pm
Place: 32-D461

In this talk I analyze the distribution of copular allomorphy in North Azeri (Turkic), which I argue supports a theory of allomorphy that is constrained by structural locality. (Bobaljik 2012) In specific, when a copula is sufficiently local to a T bearing relevant features, copular allomorphy is possible, but when these conditions are unmet, either due to featural mismatch or lack of structural locality due to intervening phrases, the copula defaults to an elsewhere form. This system captures a range of facts in a principled way, while keeping a uniform syntax in all cases. I extend this argument to account for a syncretism between that elsewhere copular form, and the form of the verb “become”, which are the same in this language. I suggest that we can decompose “become” in the syntax into a copula plus an additional head encoding inchoative semantics or some related species of inner aspect, and that the addition of this head results in structural dis-locality between the copula and a potential allomorphy trigger, just as we see elsewhere in the language. That is, while we might posit accidental syncretism between these two things, I suggest that we do not have to do so.