The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, May 25th, 2020

Davis to USC

Congratulations to finishing student Colin Davis, who has accepted a position as Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Southern California. At USC he will conduct research and teach undergraduate and graduate classes in syntax and general linguistics. Colin is currently completing a dissertation entitled “The Linear Limitations of Syntactic Derivations”. Great news, Colin!

Summer talk series: Rafael Abramovitz (5/28)

Speaker: Rafael Abramovitz (MIT)
Title: Deconstructing Inverse Case Attraction 
Time: Thursday, May 28, 12:30pm-2pm EST


In this talk, I will try to give a unified analysis of inverse case attraction (ICA), a phenomenon best known from a variety of extinct Indo-European languages whereby the head of a relative clause bears the case assigned to the relative pronoun inside the relative clause, rather than the case it would be assigned by the matrix verb. Pace pretty much everyone who has written about this, I will argue that relative clauses with ICA are in fact a kind of internally-headed relative clauses (rather than being externally-headed or correlatives), whereas relative clauses that do not display ICA are externally headed. The data will primarily drawn from Koryak (Chukotko-Kamchatkan), though I will show that all of the other languages with ICA for which sufficient data exists (Ingrian Finnish, Bessermyan Udmurt, Moksha, Mari, Dari, etc.) pattern like Koryak in the relevant respects. Having proposed a syntax for ICA generally, I then point out that exactly this syntax has been defended by Hiraiwa and colleagues for so-called `left-headed internally-headed relative clauses’ in the Gur languages of West Africa (Buli, Dagaare, Kabiye, Moore etc.), which have no case-marking on noun phrases. ICA, I argue, falls out when a language has both overt case-marking and Gur-like relative clauses.

Michel DeGraff spoke to graduating students at Kean University’s Honors Convocation

On Friday, May 22nd, 2002, Michel DeGraff spoke to graduating students at Kean University’s Honors Convocation: https://www.kean.edu/division-academic-affairs/honors-convocation
Here’s a video of Michel’s remarks, with an introduction by Kean University Provost Jeffrey Toney who is a visiting professor in MIT Philosophy: https://www.facebook.com/791208871/posts/10158488719853872/