The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, April 1st, 2024

Roberts @ ComputEL-7

On Friday, 22 March 2024, James Cooper Roberts (first year student) presented his work on a computational investigation of the productivity of medials in Passamaquoddy at the Seventh Workshop on Computational Methods for Endangered Languages (ComputEL-7). This workshop was colocated with 18th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL 2024) in St. Julian’s, Malta.

MorPhun 4/1 - Stanislao Zompì (Universität Potsdam) and Zhouyi Sun (MIT)

Speaker: Stanislao Zompì (Universität Potsdam) and Zhouyi Sun (MIT)
Title: *ABA in Multidimensional Paradigms: A Harmonic Grammar-based account
Time: Monday, April 1st, 1pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: In piece-based and realizational models of morphology, a fundamental question concerns the assignment and conditioning of phonological content to morphemes represented as feature bundles. This talk shows the limitations of Underspecification (Halle 1997; Bobaljik 2012) and Overspecification (Caha 2009; Starke 2009) approaches (henceforth US and OS) in deriving ABA patterns of contextual allomorphy in multidimensional paradigms (Christopoulos & Zompì 2022; Caha 2023). Our proposal essentially combines US and OS (cf. Ackema & Neeleman 2005; Wolf 2008; Müller 2020) and equates exponent choice to finding the ‘shortest path’ for each feature bundle to a legitimate exponent under a Harmonic Grammar framework. We further discuss the typology of ABA patterns of root suppletion and show that the proposed model makes appropriate restrictions on accidental homophony and derives the correct typology. Lastly, we suggest that our proposal yields output-driven maps in the sense of Tesar (2014), which boosts the learning of morphological paradigms.

Syntax Square 4/2 - Fangning Ren (University of Cambridge)

Speaker: Fangning Ren (University of Cambridge)
Title: Approaching Mandarin wh-topicalization/focalization: D-linking effect
Time: Tuesday, April 2nd, 1pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: This talk mainly provides two findings and the proposed analyses: (i) To form a content question, Mandarin ex-situ wh-nominals are invariably D-linked (Pesetsky 1987), whereas all wh-nominals can stay in situ regardless of their D-linking status; (ii) Mandarin wh-ex-situ creates both gapped dependencies and resumptive dependencies, with the former showing A’ diagnostics not the latter. Comparing three types of Mandarin wh-nominals: which-complexes, what-complexes and the what-simplex, I propose their varying degrees of D-linkability (in a morphosyntactic sense) are determined by their ability to realize the higher D head in a split-DP structure, which maps to the discourse (Roberts 2001, Guardiano 2012; Roberts 2017). In terms of the syntactic nature of the two dependencies created by Mandarin wh-nominal reordering, I argue that the resumptive one involves a base-generated wh-hanging-topic that introduces a null copular construction containing a reduced co-varying restrictive-relative head (Safir 1986, Kallulli 2012), whereas the gapped one involves wh-focus-movement. This is corroborated by the asymmetry they show in terms of parasitic-gap licensing, CNPC sensitivity, and the WCO effect.

LF Reading Group 4/3 - Yurika Aonuki (MIT)

Speaker: Yurika Aonuki (MIT)
Title: Minimum-standard predicates as resultatives and measure phrase interpretations
Time: Wednesday, April 3rd, 1pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: In this practice talk for WCCFL, I will propose a compositional analysis of verbal predicates in Japanese that have been treated as minimum-standard gradable adjectives (GAs) (e.g., Kubota 2011; Sawada and Grano 2011). I demonstrate that the verbs in these predicates are inchoative-state verbs (Kiyota 2008) and argue that their GA-like behaviours provide novel empirical support for a state-based analysis of GAs (Wellwood 2015).

What have been treated as minimum-standard GAs, e.g., katamui-tei- ‘tilted’, allow absolute MPs (1). This property, in contrast with the lack of absolute MP readings with relative GAs (2), has played a major role in Japanese degree semantics.

(1) Poster-ga 5mm katamui-tei-ru poster-nom 5mm tilt-tei-npst ‘The poster is 5mm tilted.’ (2) Kono ki-wa 8m taka-i this tree-top 8m tall-npst ‘This tree is 8m taller.’ *‘..8m tall.’

However, these minimum GA-like predicates are morphologically Verb + aspectual marker -tei- (Oda 2008). I present the first compositional analysis of (1) in which the MP measures a result state.

Phonology Circle 4/1 - Heidi Duressi (MIT)

Speaker: Heidi Duressi (MIT)
Title:An analysis of the Albanian verbal paradigm with with multiple exponence and paradigm contrast
Time: Monday, April 1st, 5pm - 6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

Abstract: Albanian verbs are typically analyzed to be broadly split into 2 categories: those with roots ending in vowels (Class 1) and those with roots ending in consonants (Class 2) (Newmark, Hubbard, & Prifti 1982; Camaj, 1984). There are certain segments (alternating between j and n) that are present in the indicative present forms of some verbs in Class 1, but not those of Class 2. There have been attempts at further characterizing these alternations (Trommer 2013) but there is no complete explanation of why they surface in the person/number combinations that they do. The goal of this talk is: 1) to present an analysis of this phenomenon, which combines ideas of multiple exponence, as suggested and used by (Matthews, 1974; Müller, 2006; Müller & Trommer, 2007), with paradigm contrast (Rebrus & Törkenczy, 2005; Hall, 2007) and 2) to explore the implications of this analysis for the general Albanian verbal paradigm.

LingLunch 4/4 - Noa Bassel (UMass)

Speaker: Noa Bassel (UMass)
Title: Complex anaphors
Time: Thursday, April 4th, 12:30pm - 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: Anaphors with a complex morphological structure are attested across many different languages and show recurring traits in meaning and distribution. Despite extensive research into these phenomena, there is no broadly-accepted definition of the primary grammatical function(s) of complex anaphors. This talk will evaluate various definitions from previous literature, with the goal of defining complex anaphors in a way that would explain their cross-linguistic properties: morphological complexity, binding effects, and homophony with focus-intensifiers (e.g., The queen HERSELF came to our party).

Colloquium 4/5 - Amanda Rysling (UC Santa Cruz)

Speaker: Amanda Rysling (UC Santa Cruz)
Title: What it takes to comprehend (a) focus
Time: Friday, April 5th, 3:30pm - 5pm
Location: 32-141

Abstract: Over the past half-century, psycholinguistic studies of linguistic focus have found that comprehenders preferentially attend to focused material and process it more “deeply” or “effortfully” than non-focused material. But psycholinguists have investigated only a limited subset of focus constructions, and we have not come to an understanding of how costly focus is to process, what factors govern that cost, or why the language comprehension system behaves in the way that it does, and not others. In this talk, I discuss the problem for language comprehenders presented by the category of focus, and present evidence that focus processing is generally costly, but this cost can be attenuated by the presence of contrastive alternatives to a focus in the context before that upcoming focus. Evidence from the processing of second-occurrence foci demonstrates that comprehenders seem to work harder than our general models of sentence processing would posit that they should in comprehending given focused material. These findings add to our understanding of what it means to be good enough or efficient in language processing, delineating conditions under which comprehenders do (not) find apparently important material to be worth processing deeply or effortfully.