The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium (11/4) - Michelle Yuan (UCSD)



Speaker: Michelle Yuan (UCSD)
Title: Morphological conditions on movement chain resolution: Inuktitut noun incorporation revisited
Time: Friday November 4, 3:30pm, 32-141

Prior research on the Copy Theory of Movement has suggested that the realization of movement chains may be regulated by well-formedness conditions governing complex word formation, such as the Stray Affix Filter (e.g. Landau 2006; Kandybowicz 2007). This talk provides new evidence for this idea, based on an investigation of noun incorporation in Inuktitut (Eastern Canadian Inuit). At the same time, this talk aims to offer new insights into the nature of incorporation in Inuktitut (and Inuit as a whole), informed by its interactions with clausal syntax.
Noun incorporation in Inuktitut (and Inuit) is cross-linguistically unusual, in that a small set of verbs is obligatorily incorporating (i.e. affixal), while for most other verbs incorporation is not possible. I provide novel data showing that, in Inuktitut, incorporated nominals are syntactically active, able to participate in case and agreement alternations and undergo phrasal movement, despite surfacing within the verb complex. That these nominals nonetheless invariably surface within the verb complex even when extracted follows straightforwardly from the aforementioned interaction between chain resolution and morphological well-formedness. Moreover, in contrast to most previous characterizations of incorporation (in Inuit and cross-linguistically), I conclude that noun incorporation at least in Inuktitut takes place to satisfy the morphological requirements of the incorporating verb—and not in response to the structural deficiency of the noun.