The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 10/29 - Rafael Abramovitz (MIT)

Speaker: Rafael Abramovitz (MIT)
Title: Deconstructing Inverse Case Attraction
Time: Thursday, October 29th, 12:30pm – 13:50pm

Abstract: Inverse case attraction (ICA) in relative clauses (RC) is a phenomenon whereby the head of a seemingly externally-headed RC is marked with the case assigned to the gap inside the RC. This phenomenon has puzzled linguists and grammarians for the better part of the last two millennia, and has given rise to a number of unsatisfactory analyses. Based on data from Koryak, in this talk (practice for NELS) I’ll propose a new analysis of ICA whereby it involves the head of an RC surfacing in a left-peripheral position within the RC. This analysis is supported by data from all languages with ICA for which sufficient data exists in the literature, suggesting that it may provide a unified analysis for all instances of ICA across languages. Further, the type of RC that I posit (ex-situ but internally-headed) has been extensively argued to exist in the Gur languages (most prominently Buli) by Ken Hiraiwa and colleagues. ICA, I argue, therefore arises in languages with both Gur-style RCs and case-marked relative pronouns.