The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

MIT Colloquium 5/4: Ryan Bennett (UCSC)

Speaker: Ryan Bennett (UCSC)
Title: Incorporation, focus and the phonology of ellipsis in Irish
Time: Friday 5/4, 3:30-5pm
Place: 32-155

This talk analyzes a pattern of misalignment between syntax, semantics, and phonology in modern Irish. This mismatch turns on the interaction between focus and ellipsis, as realized in clauses with pronominal subjects. We argue that ellipsis can be over-ridden when phonological—-rather than semantic—-requirements of focus need to be satisfied. This motivates a theoretical framework in which post-syntactic computation involves the parallel optimization of at least some aspects of morpho-syntax and prosody. The analysis relies on a kind of head movement (from a specifier to a higher head) which is predicted by bare phrase structure, but little-documented.