The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 10/17 - Carrie Spadine (MIT)

Speaker: Carrie Spadine (MIT)
Title: Tigrinya attitude reports: arguments for syntactic perspective [NELS practice talk]
Date and time: Tuesday October 17, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

This talk presents novel data from Tigrinya (Semitic) for a perspectival projection (“PerspP”) in the left periphery of the clause. Previous works (Speas 2004, Sundaresan 2016, and others) have argued that such a projection is necessary to account for morphosyntactic phenomena that is sensitive to discourse and pragmatic factors, such as evidentiality marking, indexical shift, and perspectival anaphora. However, the existing proposals that make use of this projection extrapolate its existence from indirect factors, like auxiliary choice, agreement, and binding. Tigrinya can realize this projection overtly; the head Persp is spelled out as “ilu”, and introduces a perspective holder argument in the specifier of PerspP.

The construction under discussion also has the novel property of allowing indexical shift in root clauses. If indexical shift relies on a semantic property of the matrix verb in shifty construction (as proposed in (Munro et al. 2009) for Matses), this would be unexpected. Instead, this data suggests that indexical shift is a property of certain types of clauses, and the compatibility or incompatibility of certain verb classes with shifty embedded clauses is the result of selectional restrictions on clause size, rather than the particular semantics of those verbs.