The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, January 2nd, 2023

Privoznov published in Glossa

Congratulations to our postdoctoral associate Dmitry Privoznov (PhD 2021) on the publication in Glossa of his article entitled “Adjunct islands are configurational”! The paper is open access and can be downloaded here

This paper argues for the Spell Out theory of the Adjunct Condition, based on Uriagereka (1999), Johnson (2003) and Sheehan (2010), using new evidence from Balkar. The Spell Out theory makes two claims: (a) between any two phrasal sisters at least one must be spelled out and become opaque for movement; and (b) a spelled out constituent does not project its category. This predicts adjuncts to be opaque, since they are maximal projections and are merged with a phrase. The Spell Out theory predicts that modifiers can be transparent for movement, but only if they are merged with a head (as complements) or if their sister is spelled out. The argument from Balkar is based on the behavior of so-called coverbs (clausal modifiers). Balkar converbs come in three varieties: vPs attached at the vP-level or as structural complements, TPs attached between the vP and the T′ of the main clause, and CPs attached at the CP-level. vP-converbs are only transparent for scrambling if they are complements. TP-converbs are never transparent. CP-converbs are only transparent if the main clause that they modify is opaque. Thus, Balkar converbs are transparent in all and only structural configurations that are predicted to be transparent by the Spell Out theory. In the end of the paper I discuss English data from Truswell (2007) and argue that the analysis proposed for Balkar can be extended to them as well.


Zompì and Christopoulos published in NLLT

Congratulations are in order for our dissertating student Stanislao Zompì and co-author Christos Christopoulos (University of Connecticut) whose paper “Taking the nominative (back) out of the accusative” has been published in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory! Félications, Stan and Christos!! The article is open-access and can be downloaded here

The nominative, the accusative and the dative have been recently argued to stand in proper containment to one another. In contrast to more traditional decompositions which posited no such containment, this new decomposition has been shown to account for the absence of ABA exponence patterns for this triplet of cases, i.e. for the fact that no rule of exponence applies in both nominative and dative without also applying in the accusative. We point out that, in addition to its desirable predictions regarding *ABA, the more recent decomposition also makes an undesirable prediction about the derivation of ABB patterns, as we show based on data from Indo-European languages. We argue that a third theory—under which the accusative is properly contained within the dative, but the nominative and the accusative do not stand in a containment relation to one another—accounts for all the relevant facts.

MIT @ Amsterdam Colloquium

The 23rd Amsterdam Colloquium took place at the University of Amsterdam on December 19-21. The following MIT grad students presented their work:

  • Ruoan Wang (4th year): Morphological effects on indexical shift in Uyghur
  • Omri Doron (4th year) & Jad Wehbe (3rd year): A constraint on presupposition accommodation
  • Adèle Mortier (4th year), Steven Verheyen, Paul Égré and Benjamin Spector: An experimental investigation of the around/between contrast
  • Lorenzo Pinton (2nd year): Numerous relative clauses: permutation invariance, anti-restrictiveness, triviality
  • Jad Wehbe (3rd year): Revisiting presuppositional accounts of homogeneity

In addition, several recent alumni also gave presentations:

  • Márta Abrusán (PhD 2007): Projection, attention and the meaning of negation (Invited talk)
  • Michela Ippolito (PhD 2002): The Hell with questions 
  • Moshe E. Bar-Lev and Roni Katzir (PhD 2008): Positivity, (anti-)exhaustivity and stability 
  • Yizhen Jiang, Rebecca S. Ren, Yihang Shen, Richard Breheny, Paul Marty (PhD 2017) and Yasutada Sudo (PhD 2012): Plural priming revisited: inverse preference and spillover effects
  • Sonia Ramotowska, Paul Marty (Phd 2017), Jacopo Romoli, Yasutada Sudo (PhD 2012) and Richard Breheny: Diversity with Universality