The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, March 29th, 2021

Syntax Square 3/30 - Filipe Kobayashi (MIT)

Speaker: Filipe Kobayashi (MIT)
Title: Brazilian Portuguese matrix null subjects as truncation: evidence from negative concord
Time: Tuesday, March 30th, 1pm - 2pm
Note: This week’s Syntax Square session is only open to department members.

Abstract: Despite no longer being a pro-drop language, under certain circumstances Brazilian Portuguese allows for null first person subjects in matrix clauses (Rodrigues 2004). In this presentation, I defend that these are due to a rule of clausal truncation (Rizzi 1993/1994, Pesetsky 2019). Evidence for this analysis will come from the interaction of null subjects and negative concord. Brazilian Portuguese is a non-strict negative concord language, which means that negative concord items like ninguém (’nobody’) in post-verbal position require the presence of clause-mate sentential negation. The crucial datapoint is illustrated in (1) where we see that, if the subject is dropped, the negative concord item can be licensed in the absence of negation. This study is in its very early stages so comments and references are very welcome at this point!

(1) {*Eu, ∅} falei com ninguém.
I spoke with nobody.
“I didn’t speak with anybody.”

MorPhun 3/31 - Anton Kukhto (MIT)

Speaker: Anton Kukhto (MIT)
Title: Some thoughts about allomorphy in Russian comparative morphology and Nanosyntax​
Time: Wednesday, March 31st, 5pm - 6:30pm

Abstract: The departing point for this presentation will be a recent paper by Caha et al. (2019; The fine structure of the comparative, Studia Linguistica 73(3): 470–521), which argues for a split structure of the comparative, with two comparative heads instead of one CMPR. The analysis is couched in the framework of Nanosyntax and espouses certain assumptions that are going to be of interest to us, namely that there is no allomorphy beyond the effects of regular morphophonology, no zero exponents, and no lexical class diacritics—all of these arise as a result of non-terminal spell-out, whereby different (classes of) morphemes spell out different amounts of syntactic structure. In this presentation, I’m going to look at the case of comparative forms of adjectives in Russian. First, I’m going to analyse Russian in terms of Caha et al. (2019) to identify the points where this analysis fails, suggesting that the reason for that is the assumption that there is no allomorphy. Second, I’m going to attempt an alternative analysis in Distributed Morphology, which is still very much a work in progress, so thoughts and comments will be much appreciated.

ECO-5 2021

This year’s edition of ECO-5 will take place on Saturday, April 3. ECO-5 is an informal workshop for graduate students of five departments in the East Coast (UMass, Harvard, UConn, UMD, and MIT) to present their syntax research.

Each year, one of the five schools organizes the workshop, but this year’s edition was a joint effort by all departments. It will be held via Zoom. Members of each school will receive the link in an e-mail.

The schedule and other information can be checked here: https://sites.google.com/view/eco-5/home