The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 4/10 - Sze-Wing Tang (The Chinese University of Hong Kong/MIT)

Speaker: Sze-Wing Tang (The Chinese University of Hong Kong/MIT)
Title: On the Syntax of Sentence-final Elements
Date and time: Tuesday, April 10, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

Insights of Ross (1970) of the analysis of the clausal periphery have been revived under the cartographic approach (Rizzi 1997, 2004, Cinque 1999, see also Speas 2004, Tenny 2006, Hill 2007, Miyagawa 2012, 2017, and Wiltschko and Heim 2016). The goal of this talk is twofold. First, it is argued that there should be two distinct syntactic layers in the clausal periphery that are dedicated to “grounding” and “responding” (Wiltschko and Heim 2016), respectively, by examining the grammatical properties of the Mandarin sentence-final particle (“SFP”) ma and Cantonese SFP ge and the “h-family”. Second, it is argued that some sentence-final expressions, such as tags in tag questions in English should be in the highest syntactic position and form a coordination structure with a silent head, in the sense of Kayne (2016). A hierarchical structure/ordering “Proposition > SFP > Tag” is proposed, which may serve as a working hypothesis to study the syntax of speech act cross-linguistically.