The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, March 15th, 2021

Syntax Square 3/17 - Filipe Hisao Kobayashi (MIT)

Speaker: Filipe Hisao Kobayashi (MIT)
Title: Interleaving A- and A’-movement: a Brazilian Portuguese Case study
Time: Tuesday, March 16th, 1pm - 2pm
Location: Zoom
Note: This week’s Syntax Square session is only open to the department and prospective students.

Abstract: In this talk, I argue against the existence of the Ban on Improper Movement, or any other similar constraints on A- and A’-movement interactions. The argument is empirical: configurations found in Brazilian Portuguese, referred to as interleaved movement, are shown to involve A-movement of an A’-moved element. An analysis of these configurations is proposed which highlights that they are exactly what one expects from a grammar without a ban on A-after-A’-chains. The proposal has important consequences for the treatment of phenomena that have been standardly subsumed within the scope of the Ban on Improper Movement. The paper this presentation is based on can be found here: https://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/005609

MorPhun 3/17 - Luke Adamson (Harvard University)

Speaker: Luke Adamson (Harvard University)
Title: Gender and Inalienable Possession
Time: Wednesday, March 17th, 5pm - 6:30pm

Abstract: The present work investigates whether a noun’s gender can be determined (or ‘assigned’) by its possessor, in a way that is expected (in principle) from independent lines of research on gender and possession, each which attribute importance to projections low within the nominal domain (e.g. Kramer 2015 and Myler 2016, respectively). I provide evidence indicating that the gender of a possessee noun can be determined by properties of an inalienable possessor in five unrelated languages: Teop (Austronesian, Oceanic), Jarawara (Arawan), Yanyuwa (Pama-Nyungan), Coastal Marind (Trans-New Guinea, Anim), and Ripano (Romance). I propose that gender features on the nominalizing head n can be conditioned locally, specifically by elements within nP, and not by elements higher in the nominal domain. This proposal predicts an asymmetry between inalienable possessors, which have been argued to have a tight structural relationship with their possessee, and alienable possessors, which have been argued to be introduced by a higher Poss head (Alexiadou 2003, Myler 2016; among others). This prediction is borne out in the five languages examined here, for which only inalienable possessors appear to show influence on the possessee’s gender. If on the right track, this proposal calls into question the viability of analyses that allow gender on n to be valued at a distance via Agree, suggesting the existence of a substantive universal, which restricts gender features on n to entering syntactic derivations valued. The present work thus expands our understanding of what types of elements can be relevant to gender assignment.

LF Reading Group 3/17 - Adele Mortier (MIT)

Speaker: Adele Mortier (MIT)
Title: Hacquard (2006): Aspects of too and enough constructions
Time: Wednesday, March 17th, 1pm - 2pm

Davis to Konstanz!

We have just received the exciting news that our distinguished and very recent alum Colin Davis (PhD 2020) has accepted a position as Junior Professor (≅Assistant Professor)  of English Linguistics at the University of Konstanz.  Colin completed his PhD last summer with a dissertation on The Linear Limitations of Syntactic Derivations, and is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar and Teaching Fellow at the University of Southern California.  He will begin his new position in October.  

Congratulations and herzliche Glückwünsche, Colin!!