Speaker: Michelle Fullwood
Title: The perceptual dimensions of sonority-driven epenthesis
Time/Date: Monday, May 20, 2pm (Note special time)
Vowel epenthesis often appears to preferentially target consonant clusters with rising sonority. One explanation for this tendency is perceptual faithfulness (Fleischhacker 2002, Steriade 2006): rising sonority clusters are more susceptible to epenthesis because the perceptual distance between the underlying /C1 C2/ sequence and its correspondent output sequence [C1 V C2] is small, thus incurring a smaller faithfulness cost.
This raises the question of how to compute the perceptual distance between two sonority contours. I propose that the appropriate metric is Sonority Angle, defined to be the angle formed by C1-C2 and C1-V. Given a standard sonority scale mapping classes of consonants to numerical sonority, this metric predicts a certain hierarchy of susceptibility to epenthesis for consonant clusters.
I present two case studies of sonority-driven epenthesis in Chaha (Ethiopia; Southern Semitic) and Irish (Celtic) that demonstrate the correctness of certain rankings of clusters in the hierarchy, in contrast with alternative proposals.
Speaker: Suyeon Yun
Title: Two Types of Right Dislocation in Korean
Date/Time: Tuesday, May 14, 1-2pm
This paper proposes that right dislocation of an argument to the post-verbal position in Korean involves two different structures, rightward movement and bi-clausal adjunction following ellipsis, based on prosodic and syntactic evidence. Focusing on Seoul Korean, I also argue that rightward movement is triggered by a focus effect, achieved by the movement of non-focused element bearing old information, and bi-clause adjunction expresses afterthoughts through repetition of a clause.
Speaker: Aniruddh D. Patel (Dept of Psychology, Tufts)
Title: Speech-music rhythmic relations: empirical studies
Date/Time: Thursday, May 16, 12:30-1:45p
Rhythm is widely acknowledged to be an important aspect of speech and music, and theoretical work on rhythm within each domain has long expressed interest in possible connections with the other domain. Yet empirical studies comparing rhythm in speech and music are rare. In this talk I will argue that the paucity of research reflects a fixation on periodic rhythms in human auditory cognition, and that meaningful connections between linguistic and musical rhythm are more likely to be found in the domain of nonperiodic rhythms, i.e., in systematic patterns of timing, accent, and grouping which have nothing to do with periodicity. Two lines of cross-cultural empirical research will be used to support this argument, one concerning differences in how Americans vs. Japanese listeners hear simple nonlinguistic rhythms, and one concerning reflections of speech rhythm in instrumental classical music.
What: Even more Turkshop results
Who: Benjamin Storme
When: Thursday, May 16, 5:30
The final lab meeting of the year will be dedicated to results of projects created by Turkshop participants. We will hear from Benjamin Storme about his project on wh long extraction in French.
The final linguistics colloquium of the semester takes place this Friday.
Speaker: Emmanuel Chemla (LSCP-CNRS Paris)
Date/Time: May 17 (Friday), 3:30-5pm
Title: Polarity items are acceptable in subjectively monotone environments (Based on joint work with Vincent Homer and Daniel Rothschild)
This talk is part of a reflection about the status of linguistic generalizations of the form: “Sentence S is acceptable to the extent that it satisfies property P”, where a linguistic intuition is related with an abstract, objective, mathematical property P. As a case study, we will defend the following version of the good-old generalization about the distribution of NPIs: “NPIs are acceptable *to the extent that* they are in an environment that is recognized as downward entailing”. We will present two sets of results in favor of this subjective version of the generalization. First, we will show that the acceptability of an NPI for a given speaker best correlates with the ability of this particular speaker to recognize that the environment is downward-entailing (Chemla, Homer, Rothschild, 2011). Second, we will show that the presence of a polarity item influences inferences comprehenders are willing to draw. Roughly, they create illusions of monotonicity (contra Szabolcsi, Bott, McElree, 2008). We will show that the shape of these illusions provides further direct evidence in favor of the generalization we defend and against previous approaches (in particular, they go against the idea of local licensing of NPIs under double negations, see Chemla, Homer, Rothschild, in preparation). We will conclude with a discussion about: (a) the position of our generalization with respect to critical configurations discussed in the literature about polarity items (Schwarz/Heim puzzle, non-assertive environments such as questions, etc.), (b) what such results teach us about the linguistic ability and its interface with other abilities.
Speaker: Neil Myler (NYU)
Title: Building and interpreting possession sentences in Cochabamba Quecha
Date/Time: Tuesday, May 7, 1-2pm
The full abstract is available here (pdf).
This talk develops an analysis of the syntax and semantics of three different predicative possession constructions in Cochabamba Quechua, a Quechuan language of Bolivia, and draws out the consequences of that analysis for the theory of thematic roles and their place in the grammar.
Speaker: Neil Myler (NYU)
Title: Building and interpreting HAVE sentences in (mostly) English
Date/Time: Thursday, May 9, 12:30-1:45p
The full abstract is available here (pdf).
The literature on the syntax and semantics of possession sentences is vast. However, much of it can be seen as trying to deal with two major puzzles: what we might call the too many meanings puzzle (why do possession constructions across languages have the ability to convey a myriad of seemingly unrelated meanings, like kinship, body parts, permanent ownership, abstract attributes, etc.?), and the too many (surface) structures puzzle (why do possession constructions vary so much in their surface syntax across languages, from transitive HAVE constructions, to existential BE constructions containing an oblique possessor, to copular BE constructions containing a PP possessee?; Why is the transitive HAVE pattern relatively rare?).
I suggest that a solution to both of these puzzles is forthcoming if we take thematic roles out of the syntax, and instead have them be read off from the output of syntax in the semantic component (a conclusion argued for already on different grounds by Schäfer 2008; Wood 2012; Bruening 2013; Marantz 2009, 2013). The post-syntactic conception of thematic roles has an important consequence: whether a given argument-introducing head takes a complement or specifier is determined in the syntax, but whether it assigns a thematic role or not is determined in the semantics. This means that the notion of “syntactic argument of head X” is potentially independent of the notion of “semantic argument of head X”. I argue that this independence is key to understanding the syntactic structures of possession sentences and how they give rise to the gamut of apparently unrelated “possessive” interpretations. In particular, I argue for the following hypotheses, which rely on this conception:
- HAVE and BE are realizations of the same abstract light verb ‘v’. Semantically, this ‘v’ is a type-neutral identity function, which will simply pass the denotation of its complement up the tree (this follows a long tradition of proposals that BE and HAVE are meaningless in themselves).
- This ‘v’ is spelled out as HAVE only if it occurs in the environment of Kratzer’s (1996) Voice, and Voice takes a specifier. Otherwise, this ‘v’ is spelled out as BE. (i.e., HAVE is simply the transitive form of BE- much in the spirit of Hoekstra 1994. The analysis also follows the tradition of Freeze 1992 and Kayne 1993 in taking HAVE to be BE+”something else”, but takes the “something else” to be something other than an incorporated preposition).
- The thematic roles associated with permanent ownership and the various inalienable possession relations (the part-of relation, kinship, etc) are associated with distinct DP-internal argument-introducing heads, but languages may vary in whether they first-merge the possessor in a possession sentence into the specifier of one of these DP-internal positions, or somewhere higher up in the tree.
- The main source of cross-linguistic variation in the syntax of possession sentences is thus the position in which the possessor is introduced into the structure. If the possessor is introduced in spec-VoiceP, we have a HAVE construction/language. If the possessor is introduced anywhere lower than spec-VoiceP (e.g. in a spec position inside the possessee DP itself, in the spec of a pP which takes the possessee as its complement, in the spec of an applicative head, etc.), then we have a BE construction/language.
What: Even more Turkshop results
When: Thursday, May 9, 5:30
Who: Despina Oikonomou, Ruth Brillman, Wataru Uegaki, Paul Marty
This week’s lab meeting will be dedicated to results of projects created by Turkshop participants. We will hear from Despina Oikonomou, Ruth Brillman, Wataru Uegaki and Paul Marty.
Speaker: Andrew Nevins (University College London)
Date/Time: Friday May 10th, 3:30-5pm
Title: Agree-Link, Derivational Sandwiching, and Agree-Copy
Recent work on agreement with coordinated DPs has largely converged on the hypothesis that agreement is established in two steps (a move anticipated in Pesetsky & Torrego 2004). Adopting the terminology in Arregi and Nevins 2012, we can refer to these as Agree-Link, or the syntactic establishment of an Agree relation between Probe and one or more Goals, and Agree-Copy, or the postsyntactic (PF) copying from Agree-Linked Goal(s) onto the Probe. Evidence for this split of Agree into two separate steps comes from the fact that they can be derivationally intercalated by postsyntactic operations such as Linearization in Hindi and Slovenian (Bhatt and Walkow, to appear; Marusic, Nevins and Badecker, to appear) postsyntactic morpheme displacement in Bulgarian (Arregi and Nevins, to appear), and Vocabulary Insertion in West Germanic (van Koppen 2005).
Further evidence for this two-step analysis of agreement comes from a different empirical domain, namely, variation in the interaction of agreement with case syncretisms due to postsyntactic impoverishment in Basque dialects and Indo-Aryan languages. In both cases, variation in the realization of agreement is due to a uniform establishment of syntactic Agree-Link relations, coupled with dialect- or language-particular differences in the application of Agree-Copy and its derivational interaction with postsyntactic impoverishment rules. The variation found is thus largely reduced to familiar feeding and counterfeeding interactions among operations in a derivational theory.
The interaction of agreement and case syncretism in these languages thus converges with crosslinguistic coordination patterns in providing evidence for a strongly derivational theory of Agree in which the latter is established in two steps: hierarchically defined syntactic Agree-Link, followed by postsyntactic Agree-Copy, which can interact in different derivationally defined ways with other postsyntactic operations. As such, it provides converging evidence for the view that minimalist and Distributed Morphology approaches to inflection involve sequenced derivational ordering of specific elementary operations (Müller 2008, Epstein & Seely 2002).
Speaker: Isa Bayirli
Title: On an Impossible Affix
Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 30, 1-2pm
This talk presents a new argument to substantiate the view that the morphological identity of a grammatical object is not lexical idiosyncrasy and that it reflects the syntactic behavior of this object. The empirical claim of this talk will be:
A topic or focus associated morpheme is never an affix.
I will argue that this follows from the syntactic fact that a syntactic head with topic or focus feature cannot trigger head movement. Evidence will be provided from Turkish, Bulgarian, Japanese, Finnish and Pazar Laz. I will show that when we translate these ideas into a non-lexical based implementation of Mirror Theory, we make the prediction that in those languages where there is always a suffix on the verb, this suffix cannot be a topic-focus associated morpheme. I will finally show that the prediction seems to be true.
Who: Matthew Brand, Randal Thurston, Kai von Fintel
What: “The Language of Forms”
Where: Monadnock Room, Broad Institute, 7 Cambridge Center
When: May 1, 6–7pm, Reception to follow
This Wednesday evening, Kai will join two artists in the latest event in a series of events (Catalyst Conversations) bringing together artists and scientists. Learn more at http://www.catalystconversations.net/events/.
NB: Two more linguistics connections: Matt Brand is the husband of Amy Brand (née Pierce), 1989 PhD from MIT BCS (with Ken Wexler as chair) and former linguistics editor at MIT Press. Amy is now Assistant Provost for Faculty Appointments and Information at Harvard. Plus, the assistant to the director of the Catalyst Conversations is 2008 MIT Linguistics PhD Sarah Hulsey.
Please don’t be confused: the event series is titled “Catalyst Conversations”, but it takes place at the Broad Institute, not at Catalyst restaurant.
Ling-Lunch will not meet this week. There will be a session next week with a talk by Neil Myler (NYU).
Title: More Turkshop results
Date/Time: Thursday, May 2, 5:30
Location: 32-D831 (Note room!)
This week’s lab meeting will be dedicated to results of projects created by Turkshop participants. Stay tuned for more details.
Speaker: Sam Zukoff
Title: The Phonology of Verbal Reduplication in Ancient Greek
Date/Time: Monday, Apr 22, 5pm
In this talk I put forward an analysis of reduplication in Ancient Greek, focusing on the behavior of consonant-initial roots in perfect-tense reduplication. Particular attention will be paid to two questions. First, how are we to analyze the underlying representation of reduplication in Ancient Greek? I will propose two potential analyses, and consider their theoretical and empirical implications, including asking briefly what is reduplication? Both potential analyses will promote the notion that Ancient Greek reduplication displays morphological fixed segmentism, and that we can explain the reduplicative patterns without referencing reduplicative templates or templatic constraints. Second, how are we to explain the differences in the shape of the reduplicant between roots beginning with different sorts of clusters (namely stop + sonorant versus other clusters)? I will propose a solution based on syllabification. Consideration of certain additional facts about syllable weight will require us to adjust the account slightly by appealing to minor re-ranking within a stratal OT model.
Speaker: Gary Thoms
Title: Remnant movement and discontinuous deletion
Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 23, 1-2p
In this paper I propose that chains are subject to a constraint that bans discontinuous deletion of copies. Initial motivation for this constraint comes from consideration of the properties of regular cyclic movement chains (considering data from Boskovic 2002), but then the rest of the paper is devoted to showing that this constraint is active in constraining remnant movement. Remnant movement is in principle possible, but only if it derives a representation which does not require discontinuous chain reduction. Evidence for this comes from two main sources: (i) a pervasive left-right asymmetry in possible RM derivations; (ii) variation in the availability of “true” VP-fronting. The former is supported by an analysis of the availability of “headless fronting” and extraposition-fed leftward movement, all of which fails to follow from existing theories of RM. The latter is supported by consideration of when fronted VPs behave like moved categories, with novel data showing that the ban on reconstruction into fronted VPs (Barss’ generalization) is lifted when the relevant representation does not fall foul of the discontinuous deletion constraint. I describe a few ways in which languages get around the RM problem presented by VP-fronting (“matching”” analyses, spelling out traces and not leaving traces) and indicate that this may in fact derive us a plausible typology of its language-internal and cross-linguistic distribution. I conclude by considering what kind of theory of movement and deletion this kind of constraint requires.
LFRG will meet twice this week.
Speaker: Ciro Greco (University of Milan-Bicocca)
Date/Time: Wed 24 April, 11:30 am (note special time!)
Location: 32-D831 (note special location!)
Title: “Are subject islands just subject islands? Experimental evidence from Italian”
Speaker: Edwin Howard
Date/Time: Fri 26 April, 11:30 am
Title: “Superlative Degree Clauses: evidence from NPI licensing” (Practice talk for SALT 23)
Speaker: Ayesha Kidwai (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Title: EX-It: On the syntax of finite clause extraposition and pronominal correlates in Hindi and Bangla
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 25, 12:30-1:45p
In this talk, I revisit the familiar question of finite clause extraposition in Hindi and Bangla, and the co-ocurrence of this phenomenon with pronominal correlates in the matrix clause. Examining the facts from rightward scrambling, WH-construal and bound anaphora in the two languages, I will suggest that such a non-canonical rightward positioning of finite complements is effected by a generalised, and revised, version of TH/EX (Chomsky 1999/2001). I propose that while this ‘displacement’ is driven by interface conditions holding both at the PHON and SEM interfaces . Furthermore, I will suggest that that the distribution of correlate/expletive pronominals that may occur in construction with such finite clauses is fundamentally unrelated to the extraposition operation per se, and relates instead to a SEM interface requirement on the merger of complement CPs in the verbal projection.
Speaker: Mark C. Baker (Rutgers)
Date/Time: Friday 26 April, 3:30-5pm
Title: On Dependent Ergative Case (in Shipibo) and Its Derivation by Phase
Focusing on new data from the Shipibo language (Panoan, spoken in Peru), I defend a simple “dependent case” theory of ergative case marking, where ergative case is assigned to the higher of two NPs in a clausal domain. I show how apparent failures of this rule can be explained assuming that VP is a spell out domain distinct from the clause, and this bleeds ergative case assignment for c-command relationships that already exist in VP and are unchanged in CP. This accounts for otherwise anomalous case patterns in ditransitives, reciprocals, and dyadic experiencer verbs. In contrast, applicatives of unaccusative verbs do have ergative subjects, and this is a notable success for the dependent case theory as opposed to popular theories according to which ergative is an inherent case. Finally, I show how case assignment interacts with restructuring to explain constructions in which ergative case appears to be optional. An additional theoretical implication of this work, I claim, is that it shows us more precisely where dependent case marking applies: not in the syntax proper, nor at PF proper, but precisely at Spell-Out, seen as the dynamic interface between syntax and PF.
Speaker: Bronwyn M. Bjorkman (University of Toronto)
Title: Possession and necessity: from individuals to worlds
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 18, 12:30-1:45p Location: 32-D461
(Joint work with Elizabeth Cowper.)
The modal use of possession is well known from the “semi-modal” ‘have (to)’, but is not unique to English: the same broadening from possession to necessity is found in many languages, including Spanish, Catalan, German, and Hindi (Bhatt 1997). We argue that this grammaticalization path is available because possession and necessity are both built on a prepositional relation of containment or inclusion. In possession this relation holds between individuals, in necessity between sets of worlds corresponding to the modal base and the proposition.
Many have proposed that the syntax of possession is prepositional, and that verbal have (and its counterparts in other languages) occurs when the possessive preposition occurs where be would otherwise appear (Freeze 1992, Kayne 1993, a.o.). Levinson (2011) has recently argued that this possessive preposition should be identified as (non-locative) WITH, expressing a relation of inclusion or containment. We argue that this relation of containment or inclusion also appears in the composition of universal modality, but between sets of worlds rather than individuals. A modal operator composes first with a modal base (i.e. a set of epistemically or deontically accessible worlds), and then with a proposition (also modelled as a set of worlds). A universal modal operator requires that a proposition be true in all accessible worlds—-i.e. the set of worlds corresponding to the modal base must be a subset of the set of worlds corresponding to the proposition.
This subset relation mirrors the inclusion/containment relation expressed by possessive WITH. It is this common semantic core, we propose, that is reflected by the grammaticalization of ‘have’ from possession to necessity.
As announced earlier Friday, this colloquium talk will be held Saturday (4/20), 12:00pm, in room 32-D461.
Speaker: Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (University of Toronto Mississauga)
Date/Time: 19 April (Fri), 3:30 - 5pm
Title: Phases as domains of linguistic computation: Second position clisis in Eastern Armenian
This talk explores the relevance of phases as domains of linguistic computation by bringing evidence from the positional distribution of an auxiliary clitic in Eastern Armenian. After a brief discussion of my general framework, I will turn to the distribution of the Eastern Armenian auxiliary in focus-neutral contexts. I will show that the auxiliary can best be analyzed as a second position clitic in the vP phase domain (akin to other second position clitics in the CP domain). I will then look at the distribution of the auxiliary in sentences involving focused constituents, wh-phrases and negation and will provide a syntactic account of these facts based on movement of the auxiliary to the focus head (similar to other cases of verb movement to focus heads in other languages). I will finally argue that in order to unify the distribution of the auxiliary in these two contexts, the notion of phasehood should be extended to include focus heads. I will show how this proposal may pave the way for an analysis of the distribution of the auxiliary in sentences involving multiple foci. This talk draws heavily on the parallelism between CP and vP both in terms of their status as phases, but also their structural make-up. To the extent that it succeeds in accounting for the presented facts, it provides further support for this parallelism.
(The bulk of this talk is based on joint work with Karine Megerdoomian.)
Speaker: Ciro Greco (University of Milan-Bicocca)
Date/Time: Wed 24th April 11:30 (note special time!)
Location: 32-D831 (note special location!)
Title: Are subject islands just subject islands? Experimental evidence from Italian
Speaker: Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero (University of Manchester)
Title: Lexical storage and the cyclic reapplication of phonological processes
Date/Time: Monday, Apr 8, 5-6:30p
This talk seeks to describe and explain the peculiar properties of phonological processes applying in cyclic domains smaller than the word, i.e. in sublexical domains. In stratal-cyclic phonological frameworks such as Lexical Phonology and Stratal Optimality Theory, such processes are assigned to the highest stratum in the grammar: the stem level. To characterize the stem-level syndrome, rule-based Lexical Phonology imposed special conditions on rule application at the stem level: stem-level rules were claimed to exhibit stratum-internal cyclic reapplication, to be structure-preserving, and to undergo blocking in nonderived environments. English stress assignment provides a classic example of cyclic reapplication within the same stratum: in a word like [WL [SL [SL imàgin-] átion-] less-ness], foot creation applies twice in the two inner stem-level cycles, and does not apply in the outer word-level domain.
The Lexical Phonology approach to the stem-level syndrome made a number of incorrect predictions. Notably, English has a large set of phonological processes whose domain excludes word-level suffixes, but which nonetheless do not show cyclic reapplication, structure preservation, or blocking in nonderived environments. The GOAT split in the London vernacular is a particularly salient example. In contrast, the stem-level syndrome has altogether dropped off the agenda in current optimality-theoretic frameworks relying on output-output correspondence. Such frameworks do not recognize the notion of cyclic domain, and so cannot sort phonological processes into classes according to domain size. This stance is also unsatisfactory insofar as it fails to account for striking generalizations: in particular, cyclic reapplication within the same stratum is only found at the stem level.
This talk outlines an alternative approach to the stem-level syndrome, where the special properties of stem-level phonological processes emerge from more fundamental grammatical mechanisms. I propose that the distinguishing trait of stem-level linguistic expressions is that they are stored nonanalytically, i.e. as whole output forms generated by the stem-level morphology and phonology. In contrast, word-level and phrase-level constructs are either not stored, or stored analytically (i.e. decomposed as strings of stem-level pieces). Given independently motivated assumptions about morphological blocking, together with the input-output faithfulness technology of Optimality Theory, these postulates about lexical storage make accurate predictions about the behaviour of stem-level phonological processes. Notably, cyclic reapplication turns out to be closely correlated with neutralization (Chung’s Generalization).
Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo. 2012. The architecture of grammar and the division of labour in exponence. In Jochen Trommer (ed.), The morphology and phonology of exponence, 8-83. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [See pp. 15-40.]
Speaker: Coppe van Urk
Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 9, 1-2pm
This week’s Ling-Lunch will feature two shorter talks.
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 11, 12:30-1:45pm
Speaker: Benjamin Storme
Title: Hittite present tense and its interaction with aspect
In this talk, I will show that Hittite, which has a present tense (PRES) and an asymmetric imperfective morphology (IPFV versus zero), patterns basically as English and Japanese.
When PRES refers to the utterance time, IPFV and zero are in complementary distribution: IPFV associates with eventives, and zero with statives (cf English examples in (1)). IPFV has a wider use than the English progressive, though: it must also be used in generic sentences with an eventive predicate.
(1a) *John builds a house (now).
(1b) John is building a house (now).
(1c) John is in his office (now)
(1d) *John is being in his office (now).
When PRES does not refer to the utterance time but to an interval in the future, the restriction on eventives no longer holds, as in Japanese.
When PRES refers to an interval in the past in its so-called « historical present» use, the situation is more contrasted: in one text, it behaves as PRES referring to the utterance time (eventives have to associate with IPFV) ; in another text, it behaves as PRES referring to an interval in the future or as PAST (eventives don’t need to associate with IPFV, as it is the case for English historical presents).
Speakers: Anthony Brohan and Sudheer Kolachina
Title: Backward Control in Telugu: An illusion?
(Based on squib for 24.951)
The phenomenon of Backward control is evidence of crucial importance when it comes to choosing between the two dominant approaches to control discussed in the literature- Hornstein’s movement theory of control (Hornstein, 1999) and Landau’s empty category-PRO coreferenced with the controller through Agree (Landau, 2001).In recent years, there have been claims about the existence of Backward control in Telugu, a Dravidian language (Haddad, 2007, 2009a,b) and a movement-based analysis has also been proposed to account for these structures. In this squib, we evaluate these claims by taking a closer look at the data on which they are based. The results of our study suggest that what appear to be backward control structures in Telugu are the result of a combination of constraints on the distribution of pro and scrambling effects. We also present an alternate analysis of the structures discussed in previous work which is supported by additional evidence from the language.
Y.A. Haddad. Adjunct control in Telugu and Assamese. PhD thesis, Citeseer, 2007.
Y.A. Haddad. Adjunct control in Telugu: Exceptions as non-exceptions. Journal of South Asian Linguistics, 2:35–51, 2009a.
Y.A. Haddad. Copy Control in Telugu. Journal of linguistics, 45(1):69–109, 2009b.
N. Hornstein. Movement and control. Linguistic inquiry, 30(1):69–96, 1999.
I. Landau. Elements of control: Structure and meaning in infinitival constructions, volume 51. Springer, 2001.
What: Turk workshop, part 4
When: Thursday, April 11, 5:30-7
This week will be the fourth part of the Turkshop. Our goal for this session is to discuss some basics of data visualization and data analysis. For this session, please download and install R 3.0: http://cran.r-project.org/ and R Studio 0.97.x: http://www.rstudio.com/ide/download/desktop. Materials and slides from the Turkshop can be found here: http://web.mit.edu/hackl/www/lab/turkshop/.
Title: Question-answer congruence and (non-)exhaustivity
Speaker: Wataru Uegaki
Date/time: Fri April 12, 11:30am
It has been observed that the exhaustive inference of question-answers arises only when the polarity of the answer matches that of the question (Spector 2005; Schulz and van Rooij 2006). For example, although B’s answer in (i) gives rise to the inference that Sue is the only person that B will invite, B’s answer in (ii) does not readily give rise to the inference that Sue is the only person that B will not invite.
(i) A: Who among Sue, Bill and Mary will you invite?
B: I will invite Sue. [Exhaustive inference: I will not invite Bill and Mary.]
(ii) A: Who among Sue, Bill and Mary will you invite?
B: I won’t invite Sue. [No exhaustive inference: I will invite Bill and Mary.]
Previous approaches to this phenomenon stipulate mechanisms that are specific to the polarity-mismatching question-answer pairs (Spector 2005; Schulz and van Rooij 2005). In this talk, I provide an account of the phenomenon in terms of an arguably general constraint on the generation of alternatives to be used in the calculation of exhaustivity. The idea relies on the assumption that an answer can be congruent to a question in different “degrees of strength”, extending the notion of question-answer congruence by Rooth (1992). The constraint requires that an alternative for an utterance given a question be at least as congruent to the question as the original utterance. I will discuss how this mechanism accounts for the basic paradigm while leaving several issues currently unresolved. If time permits, I would also like to compare the proposed constraint on alternatives with Katzir’s (2008) and Fox and Katzir’s (2011) mechanism for the generation of structural alternatives.
Speaker: Ted Levin
Title: Successive-Cyclic Case Assignment: Case Alternation and Stacking in Korean
Date/Time: Tuesday, Apr 2, 1-2p
In general, Case theory excludes the option of a DP receiving more than one Case. However, certain constructions arguably demonstrate that this is possible (e.g. see McCreight 1988, Bejar & Massam 1999, Richards 2013, and Pesetsky in press). In this talk, I will examine two separate, but related, phenomena which are problematic for theories which do not permit multiple case assignment - case alternation and case stacking. Case Alternation occurs when a DP displays one of two (or more) case markers in the same structural position. Case Stacking occurs when those two case morphemes are realized simultaneously. Korean demonstrates both phenomena as seen in (1).
(1a) Cheli-eykey/-ka/-eykey-ka ton-i iss-ta
Cheli-DAT/-NOM/DAT-NOM money-NOM exist-DEC
‘Cheli has money.’
(1b) Swunhi-ka Yenghi-eykey/-lul/-eyekey-lul chayk-ul cwu-ess-ta
Swunhi-NOM Yenghi-DAT/ACC/-DAT-ACC book-ACC give-PST-DEC
‘Swunhi gave Yenghi a book.’
In (1a), the subject Cheli displays dative-nominative alternation and stacking. Similarly, the indirect object Yenghi in (1b) displays dative-accusative alternation and stacking. I posit that the examples in (1) and related constructions can be captured if we adopt a cyclic view of case assignment. In Korean (and maybe in fact all languages) DPs receive case in every case assignment domain (i.e. phase) they occupy. Case alternation is captured in this system by restricting the pronunciation of stacked case morphemes via morphological rules.
RUMMIT, the Rutgers-UMass-MIT phonology meeting, will be held at UMass Amherst on Saturday, Apr 6. The program is available here (pdf). This week’s Phonology Circle will feature two practice talks for RUMMIT.
Date/Time: Wednesday, Apr 3, 3-5p (Note special date/time)
Speaker: Aron Hirsch
Title: Weight effects on stress placement: syllables or intervals?
The distribution of stress is sensitive to the weight of rhythmic units such that heavier units more strongly attract stress. In this talk, we address the question as to what is the “unit” of weight. The traditional approach has been to link weight to syllable structure, with the domain over which weight is computed being the syllabic rime (i.e. nucleus + coda). Steriade (2012), however, has recently argued for an alternative non-syllable-based approach under which the domain for weight computation is the total vowel-to-vowel interval, i.e. the distance from the beginning of one vowel to the beginning of the next vowel. This talk reports preliminary results from a nonce word production experiment designed to arbitrate between the two approaches: is the unit of weight the syllable, or is it the interval?
Speaker: Juliet Stanton
Title: Predicting distributional restrictions on prenasalized stops
Previous studies on prenasalized stops have focused mainly on issues of derivation and classification, but little is known about their distributional properties. The current study fills this gap. I present results of a survey documenting positional restrictions on NCs, and show that there are predictable and systematic constraints on their distribution. The major finding is that NCs are optimally licensed in contexts where they are perceptually distinct from plain oral and plain nasal stops. (This is a shorter version of 3/11’s Phonology Circle talk.)
Speaker: Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero (University of Manchester)
Title: Lexical storage and cyclic locality in phonologically driven allomorph selection
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 4, 12:30-1:45p
If exponence proceeds cyclically, so that cycles define local domains for allomorph selection, then empirical evidence from the size of allomorph selection domains can be used to determine the size of lexically stored exponents. Spanish, for example, exhibits a well-known instance of phonologically driven allomorph selection in which allomorphs containing stressed [jé] and [wé] alternate with allomorphs containing unstressed [e] and [o]: e.g. cué nta ‘count/tell.3 SG’ ~ contámos ‘count/tell.1PL ’. In the deverbal adjective [N [V co ntá ] ble] ‘countable’, the monophthongal allomorph c onta- is chosen during the second cycle of the derivation, when stress moves to the second syllable. This instance of allomorphy must therefore involve competition between stems (i.e. between two exponents of the verb lexeme CONTAR), rather than between roots (i.e. between two exponents of the √-node √CONT ). Two lines of evidence support this analysis of the Spanish diphthongal alternation. First, the assumption of stem storage removes the need for declension diacritics in Spanish nominal and adjectival morphology. Secondly, it correctly predicts that, historically, lexemes that share a root but belong to different categories can cease to display the same allomorphic behaviour: e.g. the stem of the verb contár ‘count/tell’ still participates in the diphthongal alternation, whereas the stem of the noun cuénto ‘fable, fibb’ no longer does (cf. cuentéro ‘fabulist, fibber’). These results provide evidence against theories of morphology that restrict lexical storage to roots and to exponents of single functional heads.
Bermúdez-Otero, Ricardo. 2013. The Spanish lexicon stores stems with theme vowels, not roots with inflectional class features. Probus 25(1).
Because of the Smolensky talk this Thursday, we will not have a lab meeting this week. Instead, mitcho and Hadas will be in the 8th floor lounge between 4-6pm to help Turkshop participants solve any problems they may have encountered with their experiments (note unusual time/location!). The next Turkshop meeting will take place on 4/11.
Please join us at LFRG this week for a talk by a recent MIT PhD in philosophy:
Title: Exhaustified Counterfactuals
Speaker: Paolo Santorio (University of Leeds)
Date/time: Fri April 5, 11:30am
Standard accounts of counterfactuals make use of a notion of closeness or similarity between worlds, whether in the semantics proper, or in the mechanisms of context change associated to utterances of counterfactuals. I present evidence that this is a mistake. The phenomena that Stalnaker and Lewis took to be hallmarks of closeness—-in essence, apparent failures of monotonocity—-are better explained by systematic exhaustification of scalar items in the antecedents. This suggests that counterfactuals are monotonic in the antecedent position, both on a static and a dynamic understanding of logical consequence. I (somewhat tentatively) explore how a monotonic account of this kind can deal with a number of standard issues in the literature, including reverse Sobel sequences and failures of transitivity in the logic of counterfactuals.
Speaker: Sam Steddy
Title: Palatalisation and the Role of Morphological Bases Across the Italian Lexicon
Date/Time: Monday, Mar 18, 5pm
I propose that a palatalisation rule in Italian misapplies because of base-to-derivative correspondence effects. In previous work I showed that the rule misapplies in verbal morphology because verbs stand in a stress-dependent correspondence relationship with the base from of their paradigm: under- or overpalatalisation result when the stressed syllable of their infinitive contains a [±strident] segment. I now propose a means of unifying this work with Giavazzi’s (2012) account of the rule’s application in nouns and adjectives, wherein post-stress segments avoid neutralisation. Derivational verbs may underpalatalise as their suffixes reassign stress: when stress is reassigned to a syllable containing a relevant stem-final, the segment will not palatalise. The reason that stress does not prevent palatalisation in relevant underived verbs appears to be diachronic, but I will nonetheless suggest that a synchronic constraint targeting forms without a derivational base will shed further light on palatalisation in the contemporary language. In particular, and in line with phonetic theory, it will show that the contemporary neutralisation has become less aggressive, now targeting only the most front vowel /i/. This fact accounts for the as-yet unexplained failure of the fem.pl suffix /-e/ to trigger the rule.
What: ESSL Turkshop project presentations
When: Monday 18 March, 6:00 - 7:00 pm
Please note the special meeting place and date/time!
Aron Hirsch, Lilla Magyar and Mia Nussbaum will present their Turkshop projects.
Speaker: Yusuke Imanishi
Title: When ergative is default: Ergativity in Kaqchikel and Q’anjob’al (and Mayan)
Date/Time: Tuesday, Mar 19, 1-2p
In this preliminary talk, I will explore the possibility that ergative is assigned as a default Case only when a nominal lacks a structural Case. I will begin with an investigation of the contrastive alignment between the ergative and grammatical functions in ergative splits of Kaqchikel and Q’anjob’al. I will also show that this analysis has a consequence for syntactic ergativity (e.g. a ban on A-bar extraction of the ergative subject) in the two languages (and possibly other ergative languages both within and outside Mayan). Furthermore, it will be demonstrated that the proposed analysis can capture a novel generalization on the correlation between non-verbal predicates and ergative alignment patterns in some Mayan ergative splits (Imanishi 2012).
Speaker: Noah Constant (UMass Amherst)
Title: “Deriving the Diversity of Contrastive Topic Realizations”
Day/Time: Wednesday, March 20, 3:30-5:00pm
Information structural notions like topic/focus, given/new and contrastive/non-contrastive have a diverse range of effects on sentence structure and pronunciation. In this talk, I look at Contrastive Topic (CT) constructions, and present a novel account of their meaning and structure that can make sense of the range of CT marking strategies attested in the world’s languages. I will cover languages that mark CT prosodically (e.g. English), those that employ a discourse particle (e.g. Mandarin), and those that have a dedicated CT position in the syntax (e.g. Czech).
A typical example of contrastive topic is given in (1). The object is pronounced with falling prosody, marking ‘the beans’ as the answer to the question of what Fred ate. The subject, on the other hand, bears a distinct rising contour, marking ‘Fred’ as a contrastive topic. The effect is to imply additional questions about what other people ate.
(1) (What about FRED? What did HE eat?)
FRED … ate the BEANS.
I review Büring’s (2003) account of CT and point out several challenges for it—for example, it doesn’t extend to CT questions (attested in Japanese) and it fails to account for effects of CT marking on word order and prosodic phrasing. In its place, I introduce a new model of contrastive topic that posits a Topic Abstraction operator in the left periphery, and defines CT as the focus associate of this operator. In English, the abstraction operator is lexicalized as a tonal clitic to an intonational phrase. The influence of information structure on phrasing is captured via a scope-prosody correspondence constraint requiring the operator and its associate to be realized within a single prosodic domain.
The topic abstraction account is supported by a range of typologically diverse data. For one, it provides a simple way of understanding the possibility of dedicated CT positions in the syntax. Additionally, the account predicts the existence of CT morphemes that occur at a distance from the topic phrase itself, which are attested in Mandarin and Paraguayan Guaraní.
Speaker: Martin Rohrmeier (MIT, Intelligence initiative Fellow)
Title: Introduction to musical syntax
Date/Time: Thursday, Mar 21, 12:30-1:45p
In recent years, the cognitive link between music and language has been subject to various debates across disciplines ranging from linguistics, music, psychology, computer science, up to evolution and anthropology (e.g. Patel, 2008; Rebuschat, Rohrmeier, Cross & Hawkins, 2011; Katz & Pesetsky, submitted). One particular domain, in which an overlap between music and language has been frequently discussed, is syntax. Lerdahl & Jackendoff (1983) have specified a theory of tonal (Western) music which postulates nested, recursive dependency relationships that are modeled in analogy to linguistic syntax. However, a number of features of generative musical rules is not sufficiently specified in their theory. This point is addressed by a novel approach to describe musical syntax, which specifies an exact, general set of recursive generative rules and casts empirical predictions (Rohrmeier, 2011). In my presentation I will give an introduction into musical syntax and what it means to *hear* musical dependency and tree structures. I will compare these predictions with recent converging experimental evidence from cognitive and computational work.
All relevant musical concepts will be introduced and no particular music theoretical knowledge is required.
Katz, J. & Pesetsky, D. (submitted). The Identity Thesis for Language and Music, lingBuzz/000959 (2009).
Lerdahl, F. & Jackendoff, R. (1983). A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. Cambridge, MA.
Patel, A.D. (2008). Music, Language, and the Brain. Oxford University Press, New York.
Rebuschat, P., Rohrmeier, M., Cross, I., Hawkins (2011) Eds. Language and Music as Cognitive Systems. Oxford University Press.
Rohrmeier, M. (2011). Towards a generative syntax of tonal harmony. Journal of Mathematics and Music, 5 (1), pp. 35-53.
There will be no LFRG this week or next since people will be out of town for spring break. However, we’d like to draw your attention to our schedule for next month.
April 5: Paolo Santorio (University of Leeds) “Exhaustified Counterfactuals”
April 12: Wataru Uegaki “Question-answer congruence and (non-)exhaustivity”
April 19: TBA
April 26: Edwin Howard “Superlative Degree Clauses: evidence from NPI licensing” Practice talk for SALT 23
As you can see, April 19 is still available, and so is all of May. If you have an idea, a paper or some work you’d like to share with us, please get in touch with Mia or Edwin.
Speaker: Juliet Stanton
Title: Positional restrictions on prenasalized stops: a perceptual account
Date/Time: Monday, Mar 11, 5pm
Previous studies on prenasalized stops have focused mainly on issues of derivation and classification, but little is known about their distributional properties. The current study is an attempt to fill this gap. I present results of two surveys documenting positional restrictions on NCs, and show that there are predictable and systematic constraints on their distribution. The major finding is that NCs are optimally licensed in contexts where they are perceptually distinct from plain oral and plain nasal stops. I propose an analysis referencing auditory factors, and show that a perceptual account explains all attested patterns.
Coppe van Urk will be reporting on a paper from ACAL 44.
Title: On Object Marking in Kikuria
Original Presenters: Rodrigo Ranero, Michael Diercks, and Rebekah Cramerus (Pomona College)
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 12th, 1-2pm
The talk presents data regarding object marking in Kikuria and an interesting pattern of interaction between cliticization and clitic-doubling.
Speakers: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine and Hadas Kotek
Title: Blocking in English causatives
Date/Time: Thursday, Mar 14, 12:30-1:45p
There is much work on the two causative constructions in Japanese: *lexical* causatives, which are monoclausal constructions with listed, unproductive morphological forms; and *analytic* causatives, which are biclausal and utilize a productive causative suffix -(s)ase. In particular, Japanese causatives exhibit a *blocking effect*, where for verbs which have a listed, lexical causative form, this lexical causative can “block” the use of the more general analytic causative. In this talk we present new data on causatives in English and argue that “make” causatives and lexical causatives in English are the same as (or at least strikingly similar to) the two causatives in Japanese, in terms of syntactic structure, semantics, and also the blocking of “make” causatives by corresponding lexical causatives. However, in English this “blocking” is often not apparent, because the causee can intervene between “make” and the verb. This data provides evidence for certain spellout processes (such as fusion, in DM terms) being sensitive to linear adjacency, and also is an argument for post-syntactic construction of derivational morphology as in DM and contra the Lexicalist Hypothesis.
What: Turk workshop, part 3
When: Thursday, March 14, 5:30-7
This week will be the third part of the Turkshop. Our goal for this session is to cover the technical details of everything you need to know in order to set up your own experiment: creating an items file, randomizing using the Turkolizer, creating an HTML template, approving and rejecting subjects on Turk. Please remember to install Python 2.7.3 on your computer; you can download Python here. Materials and slides from the Turkshop can be found here.
Speaker: Amanda Swenson and Paul Marty
Title: Local Agreement without local binding: What the syntax and prosody of Malayalam taan teach us
Date/Time: Tuesday, March 5, 1-2p
Jayaseelan (1997) among others has described the Malayalam anti-local form taan ‘self’ as a subject oriented, bound variable that requires a 3rd person antecedent. In this talk, we provide new data from the first systematic exploration of a second reading taan can have, namely an addressee (ADR) reading. We provide a detailed description of the syntactic and prosodic conditions under which 3rd person and ADR readings occur and argue for a unified account of these readings (contra Asher & Kumari 1997). We provide novel data that suggest the so-called Blocking Effects described in the literature are not an intervention phenomenon but rather the result of the morphosyntactic properties of taan. Contra recent radical revisions of Binding Theory (Rooryck & Vanden Wyngaerd 2011, Reuland 2011), we argue that local Agreement (i) always occurs between the nearest subject nominal and taan, but (ii) never results in local binding because of the anti-local nature of taan.
Speaker: Igor Yanovich
Title: Variable-force modality on the British Isles
Date/Time: Thursday, Mar 7, 12:30-1:45p
Recent semantic fieldwork in the Pacific Northwest uncovered modals which may render sometimes English necessity modals, other times English possibility ones without being ambiguous (Rullmann et al. 2008, Peterson 2010, Deal 2011). The analyses for those modals either attribute the peculiar behavior to a radical difference from the “European standard” in the semantics of the modal (Rullmann, Matthewson and Davis), or in the shape of the overall modal system (Deal). In this talk, I add to the typology of variable-force modality the Old English *motan (>modern must), which is analyzed in the earlier literature as a possibility modals with perhaps marginal necessity uses. Only by the end of the 15th century did the modal become a normal necessity modal it is now.
I show that in Old English ‘Alfredian’ prose *motan was an unambiguous modal carrying a presupposition of determined future which explains the peculiarities of the modal’s distribution, and creates a variable-force effect. Then I turn to the semantics of the modal in the AB dialect of Early Middle English (a literary variety written in the West Midlands in the first half of 13th century, remarkably focussed for the period of overall decline in English text production). I show that in Early Middle English, *moten (<*motan) was truly ambiguous between necessity and possibility. We can thus observe in the history of English a change from a true non-ambiguous variable-force modal, into a modal ambiguous between possibility and necessity, into a normal necessity modal.
What: Turk workshop, part 2
When: Thursday, March 7, 5:30-7
Where: 32-D461 (note the unusual location!)
This week will be the second part of the Turkshop. mitcho will teach a tutorial on regular expressions (a useful tool for life!) and then we will discuss individual participants’ ideas and designs for their own experiments. If you are a participant, we remind you that you should come with a question in mind that you would like to explore during the Turkshop and (as much as you can) also with some idea for a design. Materials from the Turkshop can be found here.
Speaker: Lisa Matthewson (University of British Columbia)
Date/Time: Friday 8 March, 3:30 - 5pm
Title: Current relevance meets inchoativity: On what makes a perfect aspect
Here are some big questions: Why do viewpoint aspects (like perfective, imperfective, or perfect) recur in language after language with similar, but not identical, semantics? What if any universal properties are shared by the language-specific instantiations of each aspect? How much variation is permitted, and what do the differences follow from?
In this talk I address a sub-part of the big questions; my goal is to isolate the common properties shared by present perfects cross-linguistically. I concentrate mainly on Niuean (Polynesian), with brief looks at Japanese, St’át’imcets, Russian, Blackfoot, Mandarin and Saanich. Pushing Portner’s (2003) analysis of English to its logical limits, I propose that the present perfect is purely a pragmatic phenomenon, consisting only of a current relevance presupposition. Following Portner, I assume that the other salient property of the present perfect – that it places events within the Perfect Time Span – is derivable from other parts of the grammar.
The claim that perfects contribute only current relevance predicts that current relevance does not have to be associated solely with viewpoint aspect. I show that this prediction is confirmed by Niuean. The Niuean perfect displays current relevance effects and places events within the Perfect Time Span, yet differs from the English perfect in the readings obtained with each Aktionsart. In Niuean, perfect activities or stage-level states can receive a simple present-tense interpretation, perfect individual-level states receive an inchoative interpretation, and there are no universal perfect readings. I argue that all the properties of the Niuean perfect fall out from an analysis of it as an inchoativizer; it adds an initial change-of-state to any predicate. This shows that current relevance can be associated with a process operating at the level of event structure. The analysis of Niuean may also extend to Japanese teiru, as well as several other puzzling aspects cross-linguistically.
Speaker: Suyeon Yun
Title: To Metathesize or Not to Metathesize: Phonological and Morphological Constraints on Tunisian Arabic Nouns
Date/Time: Monday, Feb 25, 5pm
In Tunisian Arabic spoken in Tunis some monosyllabic nouns with underlying /CVCC/ undergo metathesis of the vowel and the following consonant, e.g., /tamr/ -> [tmar] ‘dates’, while others maintain the underlying order, e.g., /xubz/ -> [xubz] `bread’. In this talk I report distributions of CVCC and CCVC nouns in Tunisian Arabic obtained from my recent fieldwork and investigate the phonological and morphological principles and their interactions that affect the metathesis patterns.
Syntax Square will not meet this week.
Speaker: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine
Title: Ergativity without ergative Case
Date/Time: Thursday, Feb 28, 12:30-1:45p
Mayan languages exhibit an ergative-absolutive pattern in their verbal agreement morphology but do not show morphological case alternations on nominals. Furthermore, a subset of Mayan languages show an extraction asymmetry whereby the A-bar extraction of subjects of transitives (aka “ergative arguments”) requires special verbal morphology, known as Agent Focus. Kaqchikel, spoken in Guatemala and recently also in Cambridge, is one such Mayan language with Agent Focus.
In this talk I will argue that Kaqchikel’s morphologically ergative agreement pattern and syntactically ergative extraction asymmetries are both epiphenomenal, and do not reflect an underlying ergative-absolutive system of Case assignment (contra Coon, Mateo Pedro, & Preminger, 2011 ms; Assmann et al, 2012 ms). Agreement in Kaqchikel is the result of a process of phi-agreement which is independent of nominal licensing (abstract Case). The extraction asymmetry is the result of a particular anti-locality constraint which bans movement which is too close. Support for these claims comes from new data on the distribution of Agent Focus in Kaqchikel, as well as from the pattern of agreement in Agent Focus, as discussed in Preminger (2011).
What: Turk workshop, part 1
When: Thursday, Feb 28, 5:30-7
Where: 32-D461 (note the unusual location!)
This week will be the first part of the Turk workshop. We have three goals for this week’s meeting: we will (1) discuss crowd sourcing as an experimental tool in linguistics, (2) introduce basic experimental designs for Turk-based studies, and (3) get familiarized with the Turk interface.
Syntax Square will not meet this week because we are on a Monday schedule on Tuesday.
There are still quite a few slots available for the semester: 2/26, 3/12, 3/19, 4/2, 4/9, 4/30, 5/7, 5/14. Please contact T.C. or Ruth if you have any ongoing/complete syntactic work or interesting articles/books you’d like to present.
Speaker: Abhijit Debnath (Centre for Neural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Hyderabad)
Title: Search for a Minimal Agent Predicate Link preference in Recursive Agent Distribution Strategy for Embedded Clauses
Date/Time: Thursday, Feb 21, 12:30-1:45p
(Joint work with Gautam Sengupta (University of Hyderabad).)
The current paper reports two reading experiments in Bangla, (also introducing an ongoing ERP experiment) carried out in order to ascertain whether a Minimal Agent Predicate Association could be a the default preference that results in increase of processing complexity when the number of association links between any agent and the predicates of the sentence (which are the verbs either in matrix clause or embedded clause) increases. Bangla provides a more sensitized design for the tests by providing the location of the matrix verb (having control information) at the end of a sentence (like Japanese).
Speaker: David Gow
Date/Time: Thursday, Feb 21, 5:30pm
Title: Imaging interaction: Using Granger causality analysis of MRI-constrained MEG/EEG to understand the dynamic processes that support speech perception and enforce phonotactic constraints
Traditional behavioral techniques and BOLD imaging provide important tools for identifying the components of linguistic and cognitive processes, but are severely limited in their ability to support strong inferences about the dynamic interactions between those components. In this presentation we will present an alternate approach that uses well-established statistical methods rooted in simple intuitions about causality to track the evolving interactions between different brain regions during the perception of spoken language based on high spatiotemporal resolution reconstructions of cortical activity. We will discuss applications of this technique to exploring the role of top-down lexical influences on speech perception and the role they play in producing and enforcing phonotactic regularity.
Speaker: Ayaka Sugawara, presenting work in collaboration with Martin Hackl, Su Lin Blodgett (Wellesley college), and Ken Wexler.
Date/Time: Fri Feb 22, 11:30am
Title: Scalar Presupposition and the Generation of Alternatives in the Acquisition of Only
This talk presents a novel account of a curious and ill understood phenomenon of L1-Acquisition concerning only (Crain et al. 1992, 1994 a.o.). Our account is based on the assumption that only always triggers a scalar presupposition (in addition to presupposing the prejacent) as well as on Fox & Katzir’s (2011) mechanism for generating the set of alternatives relevant for the interpretation of only. In support, we present new data from ongoing experiments indicating that the factors identified by our account modulate children’s success in interpreting sentences with only.
Phonology Circle is scheduled for Mondays 5-7p this semester. There is a brief organizational meeting today at 5pm. If you cannot attend but would like to make a presentation this term, contact Michael Kenstowicz.
Speaker: Junya Nomura
Title: Syntax of Associative Plurals and Licensing of Empty Nouns
Date/time: Tuesday, Feb 12th, 1-2p
It’s been claimed by many researchers (Rizzi (1986), Lobeck (1993,1995) among others) that agreements involve licensing of empty elements. Licensing can be done between a verb and a DP or can be DP-internal. In this talk, I would like to propose two claims about associative plurals.
First, following Vassilieva (2005) and Zhang (2008), I will show that associative plurals should be analyzed to contain an empty noun and that what seems to be a head noun is really a modifier. The evidence for this consists of modifier-like morphology of associative plurals and positions of plural marker.
Second, I will provide evidence that the empty noun inside associative plurals must be licensed by agreeing with a plural morphology. In some languages (Japanese, Turkish, Chinese among others), this licensing is done DP-internally, and the claim that the empty noun requires a licensing is difficult to check. However, other languages, for example Kaqchikel and Maltese, adopt licensing by a verb and the claim is falsifiable. I found some evidence in Kaqchikel that the licensing is really necessary. That is, in some constructions, such as First Conjunct Agreement and Agent Focus, a verb cannot agree with an argument in some positions. In these position, associative plurals are not possible, even though ordinary plurals are possible even when there is no plural morphology.
This semester the experimental syntax-semantics lab meetings will take place on Thursdays, 5:30-7pm in 32-D831. An organizational meeting will take place this Thursday, 2/14. A tentative schedule for the rest of the semester is given below. Please email Hadas Kotek if you are interested in presenting at this venue.
Starting on February 28th, we will offer a 5-week workshop on the use of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (dates below). The workshop is designed for people with little or no experience doing experimental work, and will provide tools and technical assistance to allow participants to develop, run and analyze their own (simple) experiment. We plan to cover general topics such as the use of experimental methods in linguistics and experimental design and also much more technical issues like creating input files and html templates for Turk and using R to analyze the results. The workshop is planned to be hands-on, as we think people will benefit from it the most this way, but observers are also welcome. We will provide more details about the workshop in the lab meeting next week, but feel free to email me if you have any questions.
Important: As part of the workshop we hope that each participant will develop and run their own small experiment. We are now in the process of trying to get the department to fund these experiments and therefore need to have a participant head count. If you think you may want to participate, please let Hadas know. If you later decide you can’t make it that’s ok, but if you only decide later that you want to participate we may not be able to fund you.
Schedule for this semester:
Feb 14: Organizational meeting
Feb 21: David Gow
Feb 28: Turk workshop I
March 7: Turk workshop II
March 14: Turk workshop III
March 21: OPEN
March 28: No meeting, spring break
April 4: Turk workshop IV
April 11: Turk workshop V
April 18: OPEN
April 25: OPEN
May 2: OPEN
May 9: OPEN
May 16: OPEN
There will be a special meeting of the Phonology Circle on 2/4, featuring a WCCFL practice talk by Suyeon Yun. (Please note the time!)
Title: The Role of Acoustic Cues in Nonnative Consonant Cluster Repairs
Speaker: Suyeon Yun
Date/time: Mon Feb 4, 10:30am
This paper describes a comprehensive typology of consonant cluster repairs in loan adaptation, namely vowel epenthesis and consonant deletion, and crosslinguistic asymmetries concerning sites of epenthetic vowels and deleting consonants. I argue that presence or absence of certain acoustic cues play a crucial role in determining the site of epenthesis or deletion to achieve perceptual similarity between the source language input and the borrowing language output, and provide a P-map (Steriade 2008) analysis of the typology.
Syntax Square is scheduled for Tuesdays at 1-2pm this semester. The organizers are Ruth Brillman and Tingchun Chen — please contact them for scheduling issues, if you have ongoing or completed syntactic work you’d like to share, or if there’s an interesting article/book you’d like to discuss.
This week, there are two sessions of Syntax Square for WCCFL practice talks.
Speaker: Ted Levin
Title: Untangling the Balinese bind: Binding and voice in Austronesian
Date/Time: Monday, Feb 4, 1:30-2:30p
Voice alternations in Balinese interact with binding phenomena in a way that appears problematic for standard views of the A/A-bar distinction. In simple sentences, movement to Spec-TP does not create new antecedents for binding, suggesting that Spec-TP is an A-bar position. In raising constructions, however, movement to the higher Spec-TP does create new antecedents for binding, behavior expected of an A-position. This paradox is dubbed the Balinese Bind by Wechsler (1998), who uses the phenomenon to demonstrate the superiority of HPSG approaches. In this paper, I argue that the paradox is illusory, and that Balinese Spec-TP is an unambiguous A-position, if we adopt a new account of the Balinese voice system and the Agree-based theory of Binding advanced by Rooryck and Vanden Wyngaerd (2011).
Speaker: Hrayr Khanjian
Title: Complementizer concord in Western Armenian
Date/Time: Tuesday, Feb 5, 1-2p
This paper accounts for the typologically unique double headed CP structure found in Western Armenian (WA), as an instance of concord. Certain CPs in WA can have two heads, where one is head-initial and the other is head-final. For these phrases, it is possible to omit one of the heads, and end up with either a head-initial or head-final phrase. These double headed CPs present two major challenges which I present solutions for. First, how to account for the phonological and syntactic differences between the head-initial and the head-final CPs. Second, how to compositionally derive the desired semantics of the doubly headed CPs.
The first LFRG meeting is a practice talk for WCCFL by Mitcho and Isaac this Wednesday.
Future meetings are tentatively planned for Fridays at 11:30. Please contact this semester’s organizers, Edwin Howard and Miriam Nussbaum, if there is a scheduling conflict or if you would like to present something.
Speaker: Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine and Isaac Gould
Title: Domain Readings of Japanese Head Internal Relative Clauses
Date/Time: Wednesday, Feb 6, 11:30a
The structure and interpretation of Head-Internal Relative Clauses (HIRC) differ from head-external variants, and these differences are not yet well understood. We present a study of the interpretation of Japanese HIRC with quantificational heads, and show novel evidence that the HIRC corresponds to the domain of the quantifier, rather than its witness set. We propose that HIRC denote the maximally informative set which can be the domain of the HIRC’s head quantifier. Sources of inter-speaker variation will also be discussed.
There will be no meeting of the Experimental Syntax and Semantics Lab this week; the first meeting will be next week, day and time TBA.
If you are interested in participating in the lab meetings or in attending the Turk workshop that will take place during 3 or 4 lab meeting time slots throughout the semester, please indicate your availability in this Doodle poll. The Turk workshop will meet for the first time on the last week of February and then every 2-3 weeks after that, depending on participants’ schedules. Please contact Hadas if you have any questions; we will announce the lab meeting time and more details about the Turk workshop later this week.
Speaker: Suyeon Yun
Title: Optionality and Gradience in Compensatory Lengthening: Case Studies and Theoretical Implications
Date/Time: Monday, Dec 10, 5pm
This study investigates the scalar nature of compensatory lengthening, which has traditionally been treated as a categorical phenomenon (Hayes 1989, Kavitskaya 2002, Yun 2010, among others). Based on case studies from Farsi and Turkish, I show that compensatory lengthening can take place in a systematically gradient fashion, and argue that this gradient occurrence of compensatory lengthening serves as evidence that speakers’ knowledge of duration preservation is active in synchronic grammar (cf. Hayes and Steriade 2004), not originating from “innocent misapprehension” (Ohala 1981, Blevins 2004). The gradient compensatory lengthening will be formulated within a weighted-constraint model (Flemming 2001). Also, I seek to account for the categorical and obligatory occurrence of compensatory lengthening as well as gradient and optional ones in a unified way based on phonetic characteristics of the consonants involved.
Speaker: Ermenegildo Bidese (MIT)
Title: CP-Erosion in semi-speakers’ Cimbrian: A tentative study about syntax contraction
Date/Time: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 1-2p
‘Semi-speakerness’ is a phenomenon quite wide-spread in language islands, especially when (i) in small communities a stronger standard comes to exert a huge pressure on the minority language (ML), and (ii) the process of language death takes place very slowly (Dorian 1981). It manifests itself through a partly (or even severely) eroded competence in the production of the ML displaying deviant morphological forms (deficient paradigms and the tendency to eliminate irregularities and marked forms by the process of analogical leveling) and a skewed syntax. In my talk I will present data from semi-speakers’ Cimbrian that seem to support the idea that intheir language competence some subparts of the CP layer are ‘inactivated’ or inaccessible (focalization and d-linking or familiarity topics) whereas other parts of the CP layer (wh-movement) show a higher capacity to survive. An analogy would be to an urban landscape after an earthquake, where some infrastructures are put down, whereas others remain intact. The challenge will be to find out whether we can predict which structures are more likely to ‘break down’.
Speaker: Ermenegildo Bidese
Title: A binary system of complementizers in Cimbrian relative clauses
Date/Time: Tuesday, Dec 4, 1-2p
The system of Cimbrian relative clauses manifests itself in a complex scenario: two different complementizers occur in this context: i) the ‘autochthonous’ (Germanic) bo, cognate of Southern German wo, and ii) the ‘allochthonous’ ke, borrowed from Italian (che), which is gradually spreading. In my talk I provide empirical evidence for a crucial specialization of both complementizers: the former shows up only in restrictive relative clauses, the latter in both restrictive and non-restrictive relatives, giving rise to a binary system. In my analysis I aim to explain the binary system of Cimbrian relative complementizers directly addressing the general discussion about relative clauses, showing once more the relevance of both linguistic contact and microvariation for the theory of grammar.
Speaker: Yusuke Imanishi (MIT)
Date/Time: December 6 (Thu), 12:30-1:45p
Title: Parameterizing (non-)split ergativity in Mayan
Recent studies (Coon 2010, Mateo Pedro 2009, 2011) have shown that a split ergative pattern in Mayan languages such as Chol and Q’anjob’al is bi-clausal by taking the form of nominalization. Under these analyses the split ergativity in these languages derives from a particular agreement paradigm in Mayan: genitive = ergative.
These studies leave open an interesting question why other Mayan languages like Kaqchikel do not exhibit split ergativity the way that Chol and Q’anjob’al do (Mateo Pedro and Imanishi 2012).
In this preliminary talk, I address this question and attempt to propose a parametric analysis of the variation in Mayan regarding (non-)split ergativity. The languages I look at include Kaqchikel/Tzutujil/Q’eqchi’ (non-split ergative languages) and Chol/Q’anjob’al (split-ergative languages).
I focus on the independent property of a non-verbal predicate (NVP) in the languages hinted at by Coon et al. (2011): whether an NVP in a given language has the ability to raise the subject. I then argue for the generalizationI further address some exceptions to the generalization.
(i) If an NVP in a given language does not raise the subject, the language displays (Chol/Q’anjob’al-type) split ergativity.
(ii) If an NVP in a given language raises the subject, the language does not display (Chok/Q’anjob’al-type) split ergativity.
The Experimental Syntax and Semantics Lab will hold its end-of-semester lab meeting, led by Martin Hackl, on Thursday 12/6 at 5:30 pm in 32-D831.
Speaker: Edith Aldridge (University of Washington)
Date/Time: 7 December, 3:30-5 pm
Title: Two Types of Ergativity and Where they Might Come from
Aldridge (2004), Legate (2008), and Coon et al. (2011) have demonstrated for several language families that there are at least two types of ergative language, one in which absolutive case is licensed solely by T and one in which v (also) plays a role. In this presentation, I propose an account of this variation in Austronesian languages as well as suggest a diachronic explanation for this variation. Specifically, I show that most Formosan languages like Seediq are T-type languages, while Philippine languages like Tagalog tend to be v-type. I then show how this distinction can result from two innovations in the reanalysis of a clausal nominalization as a finite root clause. The T-type system results from the first innovation. A reduced clausal nominalization nP is reanalyzed as verbal. Genitive case (which is identical to ergative in the modern languages) is assigned to the external argument in nP. Since n has no structural case feature to license the internal argument, this DP moves to the edge of nP to check case with T. This movement derives the well-known absolutive restriction on A’-extraction, since the object will come to occupy the outer specifier of the nP or vP phase. The ergative system arises when nP is reanalyzed as vP. Philippine languages, which constitute a lower-order subgroup in the Austronesian family, have undergone a second innovation which fully transitivized this vP, resulting in the acquisition of a structural case feature on transitive v.
Date: Monday, Nov. 26
Presenter: Suyeon Yun (MIT)
Title: The Role of Acoustic Cues in Consonant Cluster Adaptation
In this talk I will argue that cross-linguistic asymmetries in nonnative cluster repairs - namely vowel epenthesis and consonant deletion - result from perceptual similarity between the clusters and their repaired forms. Expanding my survey in Yun (2012), I suggest some new typological generalizations. First, when the edge consonant is a stop, a vowel is most likely to be epenthesized after the stop. If not, the edge stop deletes, while the non-edge stop does not (e.g., gdansk (Polish) → [gədænsk] (English; Yun 2012), ‘compact’ → [khəmpɛkthɨ] (Korean; Yun 2012), ‘blanket’ → [lɛnketti] (Finnish; Karttunen 1977), ‘compact’ → [kompak] (Indonesian; Yun 2012)). Second, when the edge consonant is a sonorant, a vowel is epenthesized before the sonorant. (e.g., lbovskij (Russian) → [ylbovskij] (Kirghiz; Gouskova 2003), rubl’ (Russian) → [rubɯl] (Kirghiz; Yun 2012)). While vowel-adjacent sonorants frequently delete, word-edge sonorants do not delete; even in a language where deletion can be a repair strategy, word-edge sonorants undergo epenthesis rather than deletion (e.g., ‘Swaziland’ → [suasilaan] vs. ‘Seattle’ → [siiaatul] (Inuktitut; Pollard 2008)). In addition, I will report several interesting asymmetries concerning positions, source languages, places of articulation, and voicing in stop adaptations, which cannot be explained by standard phonological constraints. Based on the typology, I will argue that acoustic cues, such as stop release bursts and sonorant-internal cues, play a crucial role in consonant cluster adaptation and formulate them as phonetically-based faithfulness constraints. And it will be shown that interactions between fixed rankings of the phonetically-based constraints (based on the P-map hypothesis (Steriade 2001/2008)) and markedness constraints successfully account for the comprehensive cross-linguistic patterns of the nonnative cluster repairs.
Speaker: Michael (mitcho) Erlewine
Title: Right-location as deletion (Ott & De Vries)
Date/Time: 27 Nov, 1pm
Mitcho will present Dennis Ott & Mark De Vries’ NELS talk, “Right-dislocation as deletion”. The paper is available here.
Uriel Cohen-Priva (Brown U) will be speaking this week at Harvard, in the Language Universals and Linguistic Diversity Colloquium series.
Speaker: Uriel Cohen Priva (Brown University)
Title: Providing universal explanations for language-specific change
Date: Thurs, November 29th 3:30-5pm
Location: Boylston 105
American English often deletes /t/ word-finally, and taps /t/ in intervocalic contexts. Other varieties of English debuccalize and spirantize /t/ in similar contexts. This pattern is not unique to English. Romance languages tend to debuccalize and delete /s/, and varieties of Arabic front, voice and debuccalize /q/. What makes varieties of English repeatedly reduce the articulatory effort of pronouncing /t/ but not /s/? Is there a systematic way to predict which language would prefer to reduce which sound?
I present a new model, MULE, that traces the reasons that lead some languages to preserve sounds that other languages reduce. I show that these phenomena emerge from the balance between two functional forces: information utility and effort avoidance. Information utility is the amount of information that speakers expect a sound would provide — how useful the sound is from an information-theoretic perspective. Therefore, high information utility leads to the preservation of articulatory effort. Effort avoidance is the attempt to reduce articulatory effort, as follows from Zipf’s principle of least effort. In MULE, a sound that provides an insufficient amount of information utility with respect to the articulatory effort it requires is a likely target for an effort-reducing change.
I show theoretically and experimentally how MULE can explain language-specific tendencies to reduce different sounds. Additionally, I demonstrate how the same principles predict language-specific distributional facts, such as a cross-linguistic preference to use highly informative sounds in stressed syllables.
Speaker: Salvador Mascarenhas (NYU)
Title: Reasoning fallacies and treating premises as questions
Date/Time: Friday November 30, 2:10pm-3:20pm
The capacity to reason is central to all advanced human endeavors. It is fallible, yet pushed to its limits it makes science and philosophy possible. We propose a theory of human reasoning that provides a novel view of fallacies in na ̈ıve reasoning as well as our ability to reason competently. Default reasoning treats premises as questions and maximally strong answers to them, even though premises do not superficially look like questions or answers. As reasoners try to understand each new premise as an answer to the question at hand, they overestimate the relevance and appropriateness of these “answers,” producing fallacious conclusions. Yet, systematically asking a certain type of question as we interpret each new premise allows us to reason in a classically valid way, a result we prove formally.
Speaker: Keiichi Tajima (Professor, Dept. of Psychology, Hosei University / Visiting Researcher, Speech Communication Group, Research Laboratories of Electronics, MIT)
Title: Perception of prosody in a non-native language: The case of Japanese listeners’ perception of English syllable structure.
Date/Time: Monday, Nov 19, 5pm
Learners of a second language (L2) are known to have difficulty in the production and perception of not just phonetic contrasts that are not found in their native language (L1), but also prosodic properties that diverge from their L1, such as syllable structure, rhythm, and intonation. In the present study, I report results from a series of studies that investigated the extent to which native Japanese listeners have difficulty perceiving syllables in spoken English, given the fact that English generally has more complex syllable structures than Japanese. Results show that Japanese listeners indeed have great difficulty accurately counting syllables in spoken English words. Perceptual identification training, however, significantly improves their performance. The non-native listeners’ difficulty was strongly related to phonological factors such as the syllable complexity of the English words, but it was not related to phonetic factors such as the speaking rate of the words, nor to lexical factors such as the presence or absence of loanwords in Japanese that are etymologically / semantically related to yet phonologically distinct (with divergent syllable structures) from the source words, e.g., English source word “stress” and its corresponding Japanese loanword “sutoresu”.
Speaker: Theodore Frank Levin
Title: Dependent Case is Licensing
Date/Time: Tuesday, Nov 20, 1-2p
Baker and Vinokurova (2010) suggest that some languages (including Sakha) may utilize both configurational (i.e. Marantz 1991) and functional-head driven (i.e. Chomsky 2000, 2001) approaches to case-assignment. I have argued elsewhere that Sakha is not such a language (Levin and Preminger 2012). However, I will argue that English is such a language.
Under common assumptions regarding Agree (Chomsky 2000, 2001), a probe must c-command its goal and that probe must have an uninterpretable (and hence unvalued) feature.
(1) AGREE (Chomsky 2000, 2001)
(i) An unvalued feature F (a probe) on a head H scans its c-command domain for another instance of F (a goal) with which to agree.
(ii) If the goal has a value, its value is assigned as the value of the probe.
Given this assumption, the functional-head driven account of Case assignment is unexpected: A functional head with unvalued φ-features probes its c-command domain for a nominal with valued φ-features and enters an Agree-relationship. As a consequence of this, the c-commanded nominal’s unvalued Case-feature is valued. This valuation is unexpected, as the unvalued Case-feature is not in a position to act as a probe given (1).
A number of proposals have attempted to eliminated instances of “Reverse Agree” (e.g. Boskovic 2007, Zeiljstra 2011). Boskovic (2007) suggests that if (some) probes cannot find a goal in their c-command domains, they will move successive-cyclically until they come to c-command an appropriate, valued feature. An immediate advantage of this account is that it allows us to derive the EPP. In intransitive clauses a DP base-generated in Spec-vP or Compl-V will raise to Spec-TP, because the unvalued Case-feature on the DP triggers movement. Once in Spec-TP, the DP c-commands T0, and is able to value its Case-feature.
However, there is a problem if we assume that both T0 and v0 assign Case in transitive constructions. A subject DP, base-generated in Spec-vP, should be able to value its Case-feature against v0. If this occurs, the object DP should move to Spec-TP to value its Case-feature by Agreeing with T0. Proponents of unvalued-feature driven movement have suggested that accusative case in transitive clauses may be lexically assigned by V0. While only accusative assigned in ECM constructions is assigned by v0.
I will suggest that in a hybrid approach to case-assignment, we can maintain the account of the EPP and treat ECM and transitive accusative uniformly. Specifically, nominative case is assigned under a functional-head driven approach whereby a DP must occupy Spec-TP to be valued nominative. Both ECM and transitive accusative are assigned configurationally. Under this approach accusative case is assigned to an object DP, because it is c-commanded by an as-of-yet caseless nominal. Crucially dependent case must be assigned within the narrow syntax (Baker & Vinokurova 2010; Preminger 2011) contra Marantz (1991) and Bobaljik (2008). Evidence from Case Adjacency effects in English will be utilized to argue for the proposed hybrid theory.
Speaker: Marko Hladnik (Utrecht University)
Title: Resumption in Slavic relative clauses
Date/Time: Tuesday, Nov 13, 1-2p
Starting with Slovene, we explore the patterns of relative clause (RC) resumption and argue that the common alternative ways of forming a RC we find in Slavic languages share one and the same syntactic derivation, with differences arising at PF due to recoverability considerations. Furthermore, the necessity to differentiate three types of resumption is demonstrated, and we argue that apparent optionality of resumption in Serbo-Croatian and Polish has deeper syntactic causes, and is conditioned by case morphology paradigms.
Speaker: Isa Kerem Bayirli
Title: Impossible Syntactic Representations = Impossible Morphological Expressions?
Date/Time: Thursday, Nov 15, 12:30-1:45p
In this talk, I will argue that previous approaches to suffixhood in the inflectional domain, both in their lexicalist (Lieber, 1980 i.a. ) and syntactic (Ouhalla, 1991 i.a.) variants, fail to capture a pattern that emerges upon closer inspection. The pattern in question is this:
A morpheme that categorically selects for a verbal item is always a suffix on this verbal item.
An approach that takes suffixhood to be lexically idiosyncratic information treats this as an accident - an unsatisfying conclusion.
My second claim will be that this observation is correlated with a restriction on what kind of behavior verbal items can show:
A Restriction on the Behavior of Verbal Items
Projections headed by verbal items cannot show phrasal behavior (i.e. movement to a spec position and coordination).
The challenge posed by the English language to these claims will be argued to arise from the fact that what has been taken to be bare `VP` in English is actually a projection headed by an infinitival projection, for which independent evidence is presented.
The correlation between the generalization and the restriction given above will be formed as a causal relation, using an non-lexicalist implementation of Brody`s (2003) Mirror Theory.
All in all, we will end up having impossible morphological facts arising from an impossible syntactic representation. This adds a new dimension to debates on the exact relation between syntax and morphology.
Title: A grammatical source of the “Gettier” judgment
Speaker: Wataru Uegaki
Date/Time: Thursday, November 15, 5:30pm
In this talk, I will present the result of my joint experiment with Paul Marty on what kind of grammatical factors affect English native speakers’ truth-value judgment of sentences containing “know”. After Gettier’s (1963) famous examples, it is widely known that a sentence of the form “x knows that p” can be false even when x justifiably believes p and p is true, contra the traditional view that knowledge consists of justified true belief. In our experiment, we tested whether the grammatical form of the complement of “know” affects the truth-value judgment of a knowledge-sentence. According to the result of our experiment, participants judge a knowledge-sentence with a disjunction in the complement significantly less likely as true than a classically equivalent sentence without a disjunction, especially under a Gettier-like scenario. We will discuss theoretical consequences of this result on the semantics of “know” and associated verification strategies. Specifically, I will argue that the result is compatible with the semantics of “know” which is sensitive to the “alternative possibilities” induced by specific grammatical devices such as disjunction and indefinites whereas it calls for further explanation in the analysis where “know” is only sensitive to the classical semantic value of the complement.
Speaker: Maria Giavazzi (CNRS)
Title: A linguistic deficit in Huntington’s disease? Preliminary evidence from a dissociation between production and perception in a morpho-phonological task
Date/Time: Monday, Nov 5, 5pm
There is a lively debate in the recent literature about whether the striatum holds a specific role in linguistic processing, or whether it contributes to linguistic processing indirectly, through its role in executive control, memory and attention (Ulmann 2004; Teichmann et al. 2005, 2008; Chan et al. 2012; Mestres-Missé et al. 2012).
Huntington’s Disease (HD) offers a unique model of primarily atrophy of the striatum with simultaneous decline in various cognitive functions. Although language impairment in this disease has been described in the literature (Teichmann et al., 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, Sambin et al. 2012), evidence is scattered and the specific nature of the deficit has yet to be understood.
In this talk I present data from two experiments conducted with French HD patients. The experiments tested the morphophonological knowledge of the patients, looking specifically at gender alternations within the adjectival paradigm (e.g. [petit] FEM- [peti] MASC ‘small’ ). Although patients had been previously reported to be impaired in a similar task, I show that the deficit is present in a production task, but absent in perception (grammaticality judgment task). I discuss a possible grammatical explanation for this data and try to put it in the wider context of the role of the striatum in language and other linguistic deficits observed in this disease.
Data collection was completed only very recently and its analysis is still in its early stages. I am looking forward to comments and discussion.
Speaker: Hadas Kotek
Title: Wh-coordination in free relatives (Barbara Citko/Martina Gracanin-Yuksek, NELS43)
Date/Time: Tuesday, Nov 6, 1-2p
Hadas will present Barbara Citko (University of Washington) and Martina Gracanin-Yuksek’s (METU) recent talk at NELS43. The abstract is available here (pdf).
Speaker: Jonathan Barnes (BU)
Date/Time: Thursday, Nov 8, 12:30-1:45p
Much of the recent history of research in intonational phonology could fairly be characterized as an ongoing debate between so-called “configuration-based” and “level-based” approaches to the primitive elements that comprise representations of intonation contours. Configuration-based models understand intonation in terms of dynamic elements, such as rises and falls, while level-based models deal instead in static pitch-level targets (primarily Highs and Lows). As phonological opinion has settled in favor of level-based theories, it has been tempting to see a direct instantiation of phonological tone levels in local F0 turning points (e.g., maxima and minima, hereafter TPs). The study of F0 TPs from this point of view has uncovered substantial systematicity both in how tonal movements align with the segmental skeleton of an utterance, and in how they are scaled with respect to each other in the frequency domain. However, serious problems have surfaced as well: TP-locations are often ambiguous, or even unrecoverable, from the F0 record. Worse still, evidence suggests that a host of difficult-to-quantify aspects of global contour shape influence perception of contour identity, potentially overriding TP-based evidence under the right circumstances. Listeners, in other words, attend to precisely those aspects of the signal that standard level-based models predict they should ignore. In this talk, I will present evidence from paired perception and production studies involving intonation patterns in American English, in support of a new approach to the phonetics and phonology of intonation. This model, based on the notion of Tonal Center of Gravity (TCoG), captures key insights from configuration-based approaches, without abandoning the central tenets of a level-based intonational phonology. It also makes a variety of predictions concerning tonal implementation and the structure of tone inventories that are not accessible in traditional level-based terms. One of these I explore further in the context of tonal co-occurrence patterns in Chinese languages.
Mark Baker’s colloquium for Friday has been cancelled due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. It will be rescheduled for a later date.
Nov 5 - Maria Giavazzi
Nov 12 - holiday
Nov 19 - Keiichi Tajima
Nov 26 - Suyeon Yun
Dec 3 - open
Dec 10 - LSA practice talks
Speaker: Coppe van Urk
Title: Predication, predicate fronting, and what it takes to be a verb (Jessica Coon, NELS43)
Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct 30, 1-2p
Coppe will present Jessica Coon (McGill)’s recent talk at NELS43. The full abstract is available here (pdf).
Speaker: Ivona Kučerová (McMaster University)
Title: Spell-out-dependent Case assignment and split ergativity
Date/Time: Thursday, Nov 1, 12:30-1:45p
In my previous work (Kučerová 2011) I proposed that the presence or absence of what is often analyzed as dependent Case (ACC/ERG) depends on the size of the syntactic structure which spells out such a “dependent” Case. The actual case assignment reflects which heads are strong phase heads and as such constitute a Spell-out domain.This talk elaborates on the idea of Spell-out dependency and extends it to the domain of split ergativity. If we apply this approach to morphologically and syntactically ergative languages (Bittner and Hale 1996), the spell-out-dependent hypothesis predicts that there should be three distinct types of split ergative systems, a prediction which is confirmed by the descriptive generalization in Coon 2012. A further prediction is that case splits should not be restricted to ergative systems but should occur in accusative systems as well. As we will see, this prediction is borne out as well.
Title: Scalar implicatures: working memory and a comparison with `Only’.
Speaker: Paul Marty
Date/Time: Thursday, November 1, 5:30pm
A Scalar Implicature (SI) arises when the use of a weaker expression (e.g., some politicians are corrupt) implies the denial of an alternative sentence (e.g., not all politicians are corrupt). The cognitive effort associated with the processing of SIs involves central memory resources (De Neys and Schaeken 2007). The goal of the present investigation is to locate this previous result within the current psycholinguistic debate, and to understand at which level of SI processing these resources are specifically involved. Using a dual-task approach, we show that (i) tapping participant’s memory resources interferes with the derivation of SIs, whereas (ii) it does not affect the interpretation of sentences with only involving similar mechanisms (e.g., only some politicians are corrupt). We explain how these findings suggest that the central memory resources are not involved in (some of) the core sub-process at the source of SIs, and discuss how this new difference between SIs and only bears on recent linguistic debates on the division of labor between grammar and pragmatics.
Speaker: Satoshi Tomioka (University of Delaware)
Date/Time: 3:30 - 5pm
Title: Conventionally Implicated Questions
There is a type of adjunct (unselected) embedded question in Korean and Japanese that is unlike any known type of embedded question. The form itself is innocuous; Q, p. Its meaning, however, seems rather complex. (I) The speaker asserts p, and (II) the speaker does not know the answer to Q, but (iii) the speaker speculates that the answer to Q would be a reasonable/likely cause of p. We argue that this type of embedded question is functionally a root questions but belongs to the conventional implicature (CI) tier in the sense of Potts (2005). We therefore claim that the domain of CI be expanded so as to include question meaning as well. It will also be shown that the speaker’s ignorance and the speaker’s speculation on the causal link can be derived pragmatically, making it unnecessary to represent them in the semantic representation.
Speaker: Miwako Hisagi (MIT RLE Speech Communication Group)
Title: Perception of Japanese vowel duration contrasts by L1 and L2 learners of Japanese: An EEG/MEG study.
Date/Time: Monday, Oct 22, 5:00p
(Joint work with Shigeru Miyagawa, Valerie Shafer, Hadas Kotek, Ayaka Sugawara, Dimitrios Pantazis)
One challenge of second language (L2) acquisition research is to evaluate to what extent experience with an L2 leads to changes in automaticity of L2 speech perception. It is important to address whether L2 perception becomes more automatic with increasing experience. The present study investigated the MMN/MMF component. 12 native speakers of Japanese (JP), 12 naïve American English (AE) listeners (i.e., no knowledge of JP) and 12 L2 learners of JP who have acquired some knowledge of JP (i.e., one semester of Japanese) were tested on a vowel duration contrast (tado-taado) to determine whether experience with JP in a classroom leads to sufficiently robust selective perception routines (SPRs) to indicate automatization of speech perception at least for some learners. We used a visual attention task in which attention was directed away from the auditory stimuli. In result, the native JP listeners showed the largest MMN and the naïve AE listeners showed the smallest MMN, with the AE learners of JP showing an intermediate MMN. This study suggests that experience with the L2 (JP) leads to increasing robustness of discrimination of L2 phonemic contrasts, but that these representations (or SPRs) are still less robust than for L1 listeners and that attention modulates these findings.
There is no Syntax Square meeting this week.
Speaker: Roberta D’Alessandro (Leiden University)
Title: Merging Probes and the locus of syntactic variation. A case study.
Date/Time: Thursday, Oct 25, 12:30-1:45p
The so-called Borer-Chomsky conjecture as formulated by Mark Baker (2008) states that all parameters of syntacticvariation are attributable to differences in features of particular items (e.g. the functional heads) in the lexicon. In this talk it will be shown that this statement is substantiated in a group of languages that show heavy microvariation: Italian dialects. It is traditionally believed that Northern and Southern dialects belong to different groups, the main differences between them being the presence vs absence of subject clitics, and the presence vs absence of person-driven auxiliary selection. The hypothesis will be explored that subject clitics and person-driven auxiliary selection are instead essentially the same phenomenon: subject doubling. Upper Southern dialects differ from Northern dialects just in the locus of an extra functional head, encoding person features. The almost perfect complementary distribution between dialects with subject clitics and languages with person-driven auxiliary selection is not accidental, but is the logical result the presence of an extra φ-probe doubling the features of the subject in different parts of the syntactic spine. Italian dialects are hence not so different from each other as they might seem.
Furthermore, the macrogroup of Italian dialects also differs minimally from some split-ergative languages because of the valued/unvalued nature of the features found on this extra head. Typological microvariation can be shown to follow from features on functional heads, just as expected.
Speaker: Aron Hirsch
Date/Time: Thursday, Oct 25, 5:30-7p
Aron will continue his presentation on topicality in sentence prosody from last week.
Speaker: Sun-Ah Jun (UCLA)
Date/Time: Friday 10/26, 3:30 - 5pm
Title: Prosodic Priming in Relative Clause Attachment
In a sentence such as “Someone shot the servant of the actress who was on the balcony”, the relative clause (RC) can modify NP1 the servant (i.e., high attachment) or NP2 the actress (low attachment). Although the details of attachment preference are language-specific (Fodor 1998, Fernández 2003) it is known that, cross-linguistically, attachment decisions are sensitive to the length of the RC. This fact has been used to support the Implicit Prosody Hypothesis (IPH; Fodor 1998, 2002), which claims that the implicit prosody associated with a syntactic structure influences attachment. It predicts that speakers and listeners favor low attachment when the RC forms a single prosodic phrase with NP2, but that they favor high attachment when there is a prosodic break before the RC. However, studies testing this prediction based on an out-of-the-blue reading (e.g., Jun 2010) suggest that examining overt prosody may not be a suitable way to evaluate implicit prosody.
In this talk, I will provide new evidence supporting the role of prosody in the resolution of RC attachment by showing that prosodic priming, varied in the location of prosodic boundary and played auditorily, influences attachment decisions in the silent reading of a target sentence. That is, auditory primes with late boundary, (NP1 NP2)//(RC), triggered more high attachment and auditory primes with early boundary triggered more low attachment compared to the those with no boundary (control). However, this pattern was found only for subjects with prominent “autistic”-like traits, in particular, those with poorer communication skills. This result is rather surprising given the prosodic deficits usually associated with autism spectrum conditions (e.g. Diehl & Berkovits 2010). I will explore the hypothesis that this finding is related to individual differences in prosodic strategies for disambiguating the relevant syntactic structures. The results of the study broadly support the IPH, but suggest a more complex picture of the relevant prosodic representations of the target structure and individual differences in interpreting their salience.
Speakers: Michael Erlewine and Hadas Kotek
Title: Diagnosing covert pied-piping
Date/Time: Monday, Oct 15, 3-4p
Note unusual date/time and location
(This is a practice talk for NELS. Full abstract is available here (PDF).)
We argue for the existence of covert pied-piping in English multiple questions. Novel data shows that Focus Intervention Effects occur within a covertly pied-piped constituent containing the in-situ wh-phrase. Focus-sensitive determiners (e.g. no and few) in the covertly pied-piped constituent cause ungrammaticality (1a), while focus-sensitive interveners outside of the region do not (1b), thus acting as a diagnostic for the size of covert pied-piping. We account for these facts through (a) covert pied-piping of in-situ wh-phrases (through Cable’s Q-theory), (b) the interpretation of pied-piped constituents using focus alternative computation (following Horvath, Krifka, Cable), and (c) Beck’s (2006) theory of Focus Intervention.
(1a) Which boy has read ✓a/✓some/✓the/*no/*few book(s) from which library?
(1b)✓ Which boy hasn’t read a/any/some/the book(s) from which library?
We then extend the domain of inquiry to discuss pied-piping in focus movement, and provide additional support for the theory of covert focus-movement (Krifka 2006, Wagner 2006). While there are several options for size of pied-piping in overt movement, we show that only the largest possible constituent can be moved covertly. We suggest that this shows the preference of LF and core syntax, which is suppressed by the needs of PF in the case of overt movement.
Speakers: Adam Albright and Young Ah Do
Title: Featural overlap facilitates learning of phonological alternations
Date/Time: Monday, Oct 15, 5:00p
Alternations like p~f and t~s provide two kinds of information: certain segments (p~f) and certain features (continuancy) alternate. Grammatical frameworks generally encode alternations using features, predicting that evidence about one alternation may facilitate learning featurally overlapping alternations. We ran an Artificial Grammar experiment, exposing subjects to voicing and continuancy alternations at different frequencies for different segments (3 p~b, 13 t~d; 6 p~f, 3 t~s). In a memory task, subjects preferred frequent segmental alternations (t~d, p~f). However, in a generalization task, subjects systematically preferred voicing alternations, even for infrequent p~b. We model this with feature-based faithfulness constraints in a maxent model.
Speakers: Norvin Richards and Coppe van Urk
Title: On the architecture of long-distance extraction: Evidence from Dinka
Date/Time: Tue, Oct 16, 1-2p
This is a practice talk for NELS.
In this talk, we present novel data from the Nilo-Saharan language Dinka, a language in which the syntax of successive-cyclic movement is remarkably transparent. We show that Dinka provides strong support for the view of long-distance dependencies developed by Chomsky (1986, 2000, 2001, 2008). In particular, Dinka offers clear evidence that long-distance extraction proceeds through the edge of every verb phrase and clause on the path of movement. In addition to this, Dinka offers insight into the limitations of successive-cyclic movement. We show that the profile of extraction in Dinka argue for the idea that extraction is accompanied by successive Agree relations between phase heads on the path of movement, as proposed also in recent work on Tagalog and Hungarian by (Rackowski and Richards 2005) and Den Dikken (2009, 2012a,b). To reconcile these two conclusions, we develop a variant of Rackowski and Richards’ (2005) proposal, in which both intermediate movement to every phase edge and successive Agree relations between phase heads are necessary steps in establishing a long-distance dependency.
Speaker: Anna Maria Di Sciullo
Title: An Evolutionary Developmental Constraint
Date/Time: Thursday, Oct 18, 12:30-1:45p
A striking fact in the development of the nominal extended projection in Indo-European languages is that while pre and post nominal positions for a functional category are possible in earlier stages of the languages, only one position is available in later stages. This phenomenon is neither language specific nor category specific. It can be observed in the development of prepositions in the Indo-European languages, in the emergence of the definite determiner form Old to Modern Romanian, as well as in the development of the possessive adjectives from Ancient to Modern Greek and from Latin to Romance languages. I raise the question of why this is the case. I argue that this phenomenon is the consequence of the Head Initial/Final Constraint, which I take to be an evolutionary developmental universal. The HI/FC is an instance of the Directional Asymmetry hypothesis, according to which language evolution is symmetry breaking. It differs from Greenberg’s universals as they express a characteristic of languages as they evolve and it contributes to reduce derivational complexity.
Speaker: Aron Hirsch
Date/time: Thursday, Oct 18, 5:30pm
Title: Prosodic prominence in intransitive clauses: argument structure or information structure?
Intransitive sentences exhibit variation in English as to whether their subject or predicate receives main prominence under broad focus (‘A VASE broke.’ vs. ‘John RAN.’). I will discuss a recent series of production experiments run jointly with Michael Wagner (McGill University), wherein we attempt to arbitrate between two theoretical accounts for this variation – one based on argument structure (unaccusativity), the other information structure (topicality). We show that the likelihood with which speakers produce prominence on the predicate correlates with the likelihood of the subject being construed as a topic, independent of whether the predicate is unaccusative or unergative (when information structure is controlled for, argument structure has no independent effect). This supports an information structure-based view where subject prominence is the unmarked pattern in intransitive sentences, with predicate prominence signalling topicality of the subject.
Speaker: Ted Levin
Title: Korean Nominative Case-Stacking: A configurational account
Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct 9, 1:00p
This is a practice talk for the 22nd Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference. Full abstract is available here (PDF).
Speakers: Maziar Toosarvandani and Coppe van Urk
Title: On the directionality and nature of nominal concord: Ezafe concord in Zazaki
Date/Time: Thursday, Oct 11, 12:30-1:45p
This talk investigates a pattern of nominal concord on the Zazaki ezafe marker, a morpheme that accompanies nominal dependents in many Iranian languages. We show that concord on Zazaki ezafe is sensitive both to the properties of the head noun and to those of the dependent. We propose an analysis of this pattern in which the ezafe first enters into a downward Agree relation with its dependent and then agrees upward with the head noun. This derives the pattern of concord and makes sense of the fact that restrictions on nominal concord in Zazaki mirror restrictions on verbal agreement. As a consequence, our analysis offers evidence that nominal concord has a syntactic signature (Mallen 1997; Carstens 2000; Baker 2008), and that the directionality of Agree is more flexible than previously thought (Baker 2008; Bejar and Rezac 2009; Zeijlstra 2012; Preminger 2012).
Speaker: Pranav Anand (UC Santa Cruz)
Title: Assessing the pragmatics of experiments: The case of scalar implicature
Date/Time: Friday, Oct 12, 3:30-5p
There is a growing impetus to examine pragmatic phenomena experimentally. Potentially complicating these investigations is the way in which the experimental environment itself shapes participants’ models of extra‐linguistic context. A spate of recent results collectively suggest that the computation of scalar implicature may be sensitive to a host of factors: task structure, social norms, and type of response elicited. However, these results provide only a few points in a vast space of potential task parameters, thereby limiting our ability to systematically model the interaction between linguistic forms, context and pragmatic inference. This talk reports ongoing work to systematically investigate the parametric space of task design. We find that implicature calculation rates are sensitive to both the structure of the response elicited (e.g., scalar vs. unordered) as well as the task prompt (whether the participant judges “accuracy”, “informativity”, or “goodness”), and discuss the methodological lessons of this kind of work.