NYU Syntax Brown Bag Talk Series

May 3                 Friederike Moltmann (CNRS) 
                               The Core-Periphery Distinction in Syntax, Semantics, and Natural Language Ontology

This talk discusses the nature and importance of core-periphery distinctions in syntax (and phonology) as well as semantics and natural language ontology. Distinctions between a core and a periphery of language are best known from generative syntax. The Chomskyan distinction between the syntactic core and periphery is controversial, though, and does not generally guide the practice of syntactic analysis. I will argue that a core-periphery distinction is indispensable for natural language ontology as well as conceptual meaning, and has in fact been implicitly made by semanticists as well as philosophers (and that throughout the history of philosophy whenever philosophers appealed to natural language to motivate a philosophical notion or view). The talk will try to elucidate the distinction with a range of cases and discuss what it means for the subject matter of linguistic disciplines and natural language ontology in particular.

April 26              Deepak Alok (Rutgers) 
                                The Morpho-Syntax of Addressee agreement and indexical shift in Magahi

In this talk, I study two phenomena, addressee agreement (Add-Agr) and indexical shift (i-shift) in Magahi, an Eastern Indo-Aryan language, spoken in East India. A leading idea in the literature of Add-Agr, based on work in Japanese and Basque, is that Add-Agr is a root/main clause phenomenon. It is a realization of C-agreement with a null but syntactically expressed representation of an addressee “Hr” (for “hearer”) in the speech act phrase (SAP) (Miyagawa 2012, 2017, after Speas & Tenny’s (2003) influential proposal). I show that this view cannot explain Add-Agr in Magahi where Add-Agr is freely available on all sorts of finite embedded clauses as well as matrix clauses. I propose that the “Hr”, the goal of Add-Agr, and the head involved in Add-Agr are lower in the C-domain, specifically in finite Fin in Magahi. In this view, Add-Agr can be achieved without SAP.

I then discuss i-shift phenomenon. i-shift has been analyzed in a variety of languages over the past few decades, mostly from a semantic perspective (Schlenker 2003, Anand & Nevins 2004, Anand 2006, Deal 2017, 2018). However, I will explore the possibility of a new syntactic approach to i-shift in Magahi that is centered on the presence of “Hr”. First, I show that “Hr” binds 2nd person pronouns in its domain (that is what makes them 2nd person, Baker (2008)). Then I show that being a null DP in the left-periphery of the clause, “Hr” can be controlled by a higher DP, similar (but not identical) to the way PRO is controlled in infinitival clauses in English. I will then claim that when this control and binding relationship is established the 2nd person pronoun in the embedded clause gets referentially dependent on the matrix goal, resulting i-shift (Alok & Baker 2018, Baker & Alok 2019) -no context shifting OP is needed (contra Anand & Nevins 2004, Anand 2006, Deal 2017). I will support the idea by discussing different kinds of interactions that we see between i-shifts and Add-Agr in Magahi.

April 19              Paula Fenger (UConn) 
                               Words within words: The internal syntax of verbs

For this talk I investigate what the limits are on word formation by looking at periphrastic (V+aux) and agglutinating (V+suffix) verb patterns. I propose that creating syntactic words is limited by phase boundaries and that language variation comes from (i) whether Tense/Mood/Aspect elements can or cannot be part of the inner phase (elaborating on Wurmbrand 2014 Harwood 2015, Todorović 2016, a.o.) and (ii) the availability of post-syntactic rebracketing, creating syntax-phonology mismatches (Embick and Noyer 2001). 

I investigate this idea by conducting a cross-linguistic survey and look at phonological (i.e., stress assignment, pitch accent, vowel harmony) and syntactic behaviour (i.e., coordination, movement) of verbs and auxiliaries. I present data mainly from Japanese and Turkish, and provide preliminary ideas on where to go next (Korean, Bangla, Italian, English).

March 15            Maria Kouneli (NYU) 
                                Determiner spreading and modification in Kipsigis

Determiner Spreading (DS; also called polydefiniteness and definiteness agreement/concord in the literature) is the phenomenon in which multiple determiners are present in a single DP, usually in the context of (adjectival) modification. There is significant cross-linguistic variation in the properties of the construction, and Alexiadou (2014) argues that a unified analysis for all languages that have DS is impossible. There are two broad approaches to the phenomenon: a) multiple determiners spell out multiple D heads that are present in the syntax, and have the role of introducing the adjectival modifier (e.g., Alexiadou & Wilder 1998), b) multiple determiners spell out definiteness agreement/concord morphology on the adjective (e.g., Kramer 2010). Greek DS is usually analyzed as in (a) because multiple determiners are only possible with certain types of adjectives, and their presence is associated with special semantic effects. DS in Semitic, on the other hand, is usually analyzed as in (b), because it is obligatory, without any semantic effects, and does not show any restrictions with respect to adjectival type; all these are properties that point towards a concord analysis according to Alexiadou's (2014) typology of DS. In this talk, I present novel data from DS in Kipsigis (Nilotic; Kenya), where each adjective modifying the head noun is introduced by a determiner, which can be either a relativizer or one of the three demonstrative morphemes in the language. I argue that there is independent evidence in Kipsigis for analyzing adjectives as relative clauses, and for treating the relativizer and demonstratives as determiners that take a CP complement (Kayne 1994 a.o.). I, thus, argue that multiple determiners in the language are D heads that are present in the syntax, and are responsible for introducing the adjectival modifiers. What is interesting about Kipsigis DS is that it is obligatory for all adjectives in the language, and does not show any special semantic effects, just like Semitic. We can, therefore, conclude that these properties of DS in a given language cannot be used as diagnostics for a concord analysis, contra Alexiadou's (2014) claim.  

March 1              Philip Shushurin (NYU) 
                                External possessors in Russian: an applicative account

Much of the work on external, or raised, possessors in Russian (Paykin and van Peteghem (2003), Grashchenkov and Markman (2009)), as well as in other languages with the similar phenomenon (Landau (1999), Deal (2016)), has recognized the dual nature of such arguments: on one hand, they are interpreted as possessors, on the other hand, they show many similarities with other types of arguments, most frequently, applicatives and topics. I consider two external possession constructions in Russian and propose that they are merged in a DP-external functional projection (ApplP) and either are licensed in situ or move to a topic position for licensing. I propose that goals of ditransitives (low applicatives), external possessors and DP-internal possessors are introduced by the same functional head. 

February 22      Lefteris Paparounas (UPenn) 
                                Indefinite null objects in Greek: distinguishing between weakly equivalent ellipses
                                (joint work with Ioanna Sitaridou)

Verb-stranding ellipsis (ellipsis of a remnant VP in languages with verb-raising) and argument ellipsis (deletion of an object nominal) are generally capable of generating the same surface string. How are the two operations to be distinguished from one another? We confront this analytical challenge based on data from Modern Greek, a language that drops indefinite, but not definite, objects. We argue that these object gaps are derived by argument ellipsis, instead of verb-stranding ellipsis as recently argued by Merchant (2018), and derive the restriction of object drop to indefinite DPs from the interaction between ellipsis and cliticization in Greek. The finding that Greek employs argument ellipsis forms part of a body work suggesting that this operation is not confined to the languages of East Asia (Sato and Karimi 2016; Landau 2018), and that its presence is not tied to the absence of agreement (Saito 2007) or to scrambling (Oku 1998). Finally, the question arises why Greek does not employ verb-stranding ellipsis. We offer two mutually exclusive explanations of this fact: either the language lacks VP ellipsis altogether, or VP ellipsis bleeds head movement in Greek (cf. Sailor 2018), such that the verb-stranding pattern cannot arise.

February 15       Yining Nie (NYU) 
                                Raising applicatives in Tagalog

Applied arguments in Tagalog must always be promoted to "pivot" or "subject" of the clause, triggering apparent agreement morphology on the verb. I argue that while Voice and v may license their specifier and complement, respectively, thematic applicatives cannot license the arguments they introduce. An applied argument must instead raise to a higher athematic "raising" applicative projection (Georgala 2012), where it agrees with Voice, conditioning allomorphy on the verb, and is promoted to pivot. I examine external possession, instrumental and causative constructions and conclude that applicative introduction and licensing must be severed in Tagalog.

February 1         Faruk Akkuş (UPenn) 
                                "Variable" embedded agent in Sason Arabic

The paper investigates the syntax of the analytic ‘make’-causatives in Sason Arabic, with a focus on the syntactic status of the implicit embedded agent and the embedded structure. The study demonstrates that this construction embeds both an active and passive VoiceP despite the absence of morphological reflex. It contends that the implicit embedded agent may be introduced (i) as a full DP in Spec,VoiceP, being subject to Romance ECM-type restrictions (cf. Kayne 1975, Boškovic 2002), and providing striking evidence of Ā-movement feeding licensing relationships, or (ii) as a free variable à la Heim (1982) generated on the Voice head itself. The latter possibility also raises implications regarding licensing, suggesting that licensing of a grammatical object is dissociated from the projection of a specifier.

December 7        Richard S. Kayne (NYU) 
                                 The Syntax of Suppletion

Starting from my 2008 "Expletives, Datives, and the Tension between Morphology and Syntax” on the expletive ghe that appears in dative sentences in many Italian dialects, I will pursue a general hypothesis about suppletion that takes suppletion to involve silent elements and additional structure, rather than to involve just substitution of one overt element by another.

December 7         Gary Thoms (NYU) 
                                  The curious development of have-raising 
                                 (joint work with David Adger, Caroline Heycock and Jennifer Smith

In this talk we discuss have-raising, where possessive have raises to T/C (I haven't any money with me), and using data from the Scots Syntax Atlas, we show that a definiteness effect has developed with have-raising: only older or relic dialect speakers accept e.g. I haven’t that one. We develop an analysis which crucially relies on the idea that there are two structures for possessives: a transitive analysis, which hosts definites and spells out optionally as have got, and an existential analysis, which does neither. We tie the definiteness effect to another change in the possessive system which is described by Noble (1985): have got rose to near-ceiling rates in British English, leading to specialisation of the transitive analysis for have got. We develop a precise understanding of how this specialisation came about in terms of a competing grammars-based approach to language change. 

November 30      Byron Ahn (Princeton) & Laura Kalin (Princeton)
                                   Breaking ‘Ourselves’ Down: The Morphosyntax of English Reflexive Anaphors

In this talk, we explore the form and interpretation of English reflexive anaphors, such as “ourselves”. We present novel observations about the dynamic form and productive modifiability of English reflexive anaphors, which motivates us to conclude that these anaphors are derived syntactic objects (and not statically listed as [+reflexive] objects in the lexicon), with internal structure paralleling possessives. In particular, we discuss (i) how to derive what has been characterized as the “[+reflexive]” property, and (ii) when case/phi values for the possessive pronoun in an anaphor may deviate from what is prima facie expected.

November 16       Matt Tyler (Yale)
                                   Characterizing the causative alternation in Choctaw

In Choctaw, a large class of verbs participate in a non-productive causative (active vs. non-active) alternation. Notably, the active alternants are marked with a morpheme -li that is also used productively to transitivize stative verbs. At the same time, Choctaw has a morpheme -chi that forms syntactic causatives. In the first part of the talk, I argue that 'active' -li and 'causative' -chi realize the same syntactic head: a Voice head with an obligatory specifier. In particular, it is shown that this head is realized as -chi in the elsewhere case (akin to Japanese -sase, Harley 2006), but as -li in the context of the categorizing head v. I show how -chi unexpectedly shows up to expone this Voice head in a variety of environments where v-Voice locality is disrupted. Supporting evidence comes from the similar range of interpretations available to arguments introduced by -chi and -li. In the second part of the talk, I turn to the non-active alternants, which, I argue, expone a specifierless Voice head. I show that the interpretation of this head is partly conditioned by the root—in terms of whether or not it introduces agentive semantics—and is partly invariant, in that it necessarily introduces manner semantics (similar to non-active morphology in Greek, cf. Alexiadou & Anagnostopoulou 2004). In this way, passive-like and inchoative-like interpretations are constructed in a language with no productive valency-reducing morphology. Taken all together, we see that both the productive and non-productive pieces of argument-structural morphology make predictable contributions to morphological and semantic interpretation. 

November 9         Zuzanna Fuchs (Harvard)
                                   Gender on n in Bantu DP Structure, from root-derived nominals to locatives
                                    (joint work with Jenneke van der Wal)

The goal of this presentation is to provide an exploration of the n analysis of gender as it can be applied to gender in Bantu languages. We believe this language family provides a particularly exciting testing ground for the analysis given the complexity of its gender system on the one hand, and the relative transparency of its morphology on the other. In particular, variation within the Bantu language family allows us to consider how the analysis might be refined or amended to establish and account for parameters of crosslinguistic variation. We see the present proposal as a general toolkit for the language family that would need to be specialized for a detailed account of any single language within the family. We hope that future work on language-specific properties of gender or on some of the outstanding phenomena, which we can only touch on, will contribute to a more nuanced understanding of these topics. Until then, we offer this investigation as further evidence for gender on n as a uniform and crosslinguistically plausible analysis.

October 26           Melanie Hobich (Goethe Univ. Frankfurt, visiting UPenn)
                                   A diachronic perspective on 'was für'

Due to its split form, the what for (‘what kind of’) construction (WFC) has been much called on in literature on extraction and syntactic theory; approaches to its internal structure, however, have been scarce (Leu 2015, Kwon 2015; Blümel & Coniglio t.a.). In my talk I present data on the origin of the German WFC that suggest that the construction lines up neatly in the paradigm of other quantifying constructions cross-linguistically. Following Roehrs & Sapp (2018), I claim that the WFC developed from a head-type construction to a phrase-type construction. The facts from the diachronic development of the WFC may be taken as evidence that there are two types of quantificational constructions, as claimed by Danon (2012) and Roehrs & Sapp (2018).

October 12            Ryan Hearn (Cornell)
                                   Evidence from innovation: Reconstructing disharmonic headedness for Proto-Indo-European

In the past it has been suggested that older Indo-European (IE) languages were uniformly head-final (Lehmann 1974). Recent work on Hittite by Sideltsev (2014), however, demonstrates that at least the Anatolian branch of Indo-European showed mixed or disharmonic headedness much like that of modern German: head-initial CP and head-final TP. In this paper, I use a corpus-based analysis of Tocharian and Homeric Greek innovated auxiliary constructions to show that they too had a disharmonic distribution mirroring that of Anatolian. In addition, I cite preliminary data from Sanskrit and Latin innovated auxiliary constructions which indicate that, in fact, all of the earliest-attested IE languages show this behavior. Taken together, my Tocharian and Greek data along with the other old IE language data support the conclusion that these languages inherited this disharmonic headedness from Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

September 28      Karoliina Lohiniva (NYU)
                                    Two strategies for forming unconditionals: Evidence from disjunction

The analysis of English alternative unconditionals such as (1) has been proposed to involve the syntax and semantics of alternative questions (e.g. Rawlins 2008, 2013). 

(1) Whether Mary moves to Paris or Lyon, she needs to learn French.

Specifically, for Rawlins, the adjunct clause corresponds to an alternative question, and combines with the matrix clause in pointwise fashion in order to yield a final sentence meaning akin to (2). 
(2) If Mary moves to Paris, she needs to learn French, and if Mary moves to Lyon, she needs to learn French.
In this talk, I propose that there is a second strategy that languages may use to form unconditionals. This strategy does not rely on question syntax or semantics, but existential closure (cf. Erlewine 2017). The evidence for this strategy comes from Finnish and Mandarin Chinese, which lexicalize separate logical and interrogative disjunctors. Crucially, in these languages, alternative questions are always formed with the interrogative disjunctor, but alternative unconditionals must (Finnish) or may (Mandarin Chinese) be formed with the logical disjunctor. Therefore, an analysis based on alternative questions does not fully capture the syntax and semantics of unconditionals in these languages. 

September 28       Gary Thoms (NYU)
                                     (Anti)reconstruction as layering

“Reconstruction” is the term used to describe when a given constituent seems to be interpreted in a position lower than its surface position with respect to certain interpretive effects, for instance for low scope (1a) or anaphor binding options (1b). 

(1)     a. A Kenyan is likely to win the race. 
          b. Which picture of himselfi does Johni/j think Billj likes?

The challenge posed by such data depends on one’s theory of movement. Pre-Minimalist theories derive surface structure interpretations by default, and they have to stipulate some way of “lowering” the moved XP into the trace position to produce non-surface structure interpretation. Minimalist theories, working with the Copy Theory of Movement (Chomsky 1995), get the reconstructed interpretation more easily, since there is a copy of the quantifier in the lower position, but they must then add extra technology to determine the different interpretive options, for instance by converting copies into non-quantificational expressions (see e.g. Fox 1999, Erlewine 2014). Johnson (2012, 2016) develops a novel theory of (anti)reconstruction couched in multidominance terms. On Johnson’s theory, the default is that when a DP moves, it is interpreted in its base position, and so when a moving DP seems to take scope in some higher position - for instance Spec,CP in a wh-question - this is because that DP is sideward-merged with a quantificational element Q; the QP formed by this sideward merger is then merged in Spec,CP, where it takes scope. Thus Johnson’s theory derives reconstruction as the default, and nonreconstruction of quantificational material follows from these items being first-merged with NP “on the way” to the surface position, in a separate subroot (as an instance of sideward movement, AKA external remerge), and then the DP formed by this is remerged into its surface position. 

While Johnson’s theory derives reconstruction into base positions readily (e.g. the “picture of Bill” reading of 1b), he does not discuss how it would deal with cases of antireconstruction (the “picture of John” reading), where some content of a fronted nominal is not reconstructed fully to the base position. In this talk we develop a generalized version of Johnson’s theory where sideward merge is responsible for all instances of antireconstruction: any material which is not reconstructed is sideward-merged onto the moving element on the way up to the landing site. I call this process layering for exposition, but it adds nothing more to the theory than external remerge does, and external remerge is motivated empirically by the existence of complex specifiers, which can only be derived by external remerge (de Vries 2009, Zwart 2011). 

The layering approach to antireconstruction makes a number of predictions which other accounts do not make concerning the interaction of the different layers of moved expression and other syntactic processes. An element X which is subject to antireconstruction will not be present in the “base position” because it is first-merged in a separate subroot, and so that X will not be visible for syntactic processes which would “see” the base position, such as agreement; relatedly, material which is reconstructed (i.e. not layered on on the way up the tree) will always be visible for the same syntactic processes. We thus predict reconstruction to interact with processes such as agreement. I show that this makes welcome predictions regarding the interaction of agreement and reconstruction which are not made by competing theories, and I outline how such a theory may account for some other important properties of reconstruction as well. 

April 27    Hongchen Wu (Stony Brook)
                 Topicality and quantifier scope in Mandarin

Mandarin is argued to be a scope rigid language (Huang 1982; Aoun and Li 1989, 1993), because the simple transitives (c.f., (1)) in Mandarin only show surface scope whereas the English counterparts (c.f., (2)) are ambiguous.

(1) San-ge xuesheng xue-guo mei-zhong yuyan.
      three-CL student learn-ASP every-CL Language
      3 > ∀ : ‘There are three students x such that x learned every language.’
      * ∀ > 3: ‘For every language y, y is learned by three possibly different students.’

(2)   Three students learned every language. (3 > ∀ ; ∀ > 3)

However, in many other contexts (e.g., PP datives, PP locatives), Mandarin behaves just like English with respect to scope interpretation, and these empirical data pose challenges for the two current approaches to Mandarin quantifier scope: Huang (1982)’s Isomorphic Principle and Aoun and Li (1989, 1993)’s Scope Principle.   Here we show that the scope ambiguity of Mandarin PP datives and PP locatives is expected under Fox (2000)’s Scope Economy and then argue that the scope frozenness of Mandarin simple transitives comes from the topicality of Mandarin matrix clause structure, which is in line with the implications of Scope Economy.

April 20    Ümit Atlamaz (Rutgers)
                 Agreement with Case-marked Nominals

In this talk, I propose that Agree has a post-syntactic component that is sensitive to Fusion. Following Arregi and Nevins (2012), I argue that Agree consists of a syntactic and a post-syntactic component. The post-syntactic component of Agree is sensitive to the fusion patterns on goal NPs. The theory accounts for the differences across languages where agreement is sensitive to overt case. In languages like Hindi (also Tsez, Sakha, Kashmiri), overt case blocks agreement completely whereas this blocking effect is only partial in Kurmanji (also Icelandic and Faroese). In Hindi, for example, NPs marked with ERG (-ne) or ACC (-ko) are never agreed with. But in Kurmanji, 1/2 oblique subjects cannot be agreed with whereas third person oblique subjects can be agreed with in number. I show that the crucial difference between languages like Hindi and Kurmanji is about the fusion patterns on nominals. In some Kurmanji nominals, case and number fuse into a single head and this feeds agreement. In contrast, case in Hindi does not fuse with anything and this bleeds agreement. I also briefly discuss languages like Laz, where overt case does not block agreement at all. I propose an account based on Relativized Probing (Nevins 2007, Preminger 2014).

April 13    Sze-Wing Tang (CUHK/MIT)
                 A Cartography Analysis of the Clausal Periphery

Insights of Ross (1970) of the analysis of the clausal periphery have been revived under the cartographic approach (Rizzi 1997, 2004, Cinque 1999, see also Speas 2004, Tenny 2006, Hill 2007, Miyagawa 2012, 2017, and Wiltschko and Heim 2016). The goal of this talk is twofold. First, it is argued that there should be two distinct syntactic layers in the clausal periphery that are dedicated to “grounding” and “responding” (Wiltschko and Heim 2016), respectively, by examining the grammatical properties of the Mandarin sentence-final particle (“SFP”) ma and Cantonese SFP ge and the “h-family”. Second, it is argued that some sentence-final expressions, such as tags in tag questions in English should be in the highest syntactic position and form a coordination structure with a silent head, in the sense of Kayne (2016). A hierarchical structure/ordering “Proposition > SFP > Tag” is proposed, which may serve as a working hypothesis to study the syntax of speech act cross-linguistically.

March 30    Yining Nie (NYU) 12:30pm
                 Possessor raising and adversity in Tagalog

In this talk, I relate external possession and adversity constructions in Tagalog, both of which involve a possession relation between an affected pivot argument and the theme argument of a Locative Voice-marked (LV) verb. I propose that in both external possession and adversity constructions, the possessor raises from a DP-internal position to the specifier of a low applicative head, which is spelled out by LV (Rackowski 2002; Aldridge 2004), in order to be licensed and receive an affected interpretation. I show that, like Russian adversity impersonals (Babby 1994), adversatives in Tagalog are incompatible with agents; I provide an analysis based on the licensing properties of different Voice heads.

March 23    Alec Sugar (UWashington)
Verb-Linking Patterns in Uyghur

This talk gives a detailed overview of what resembles a serial verb construction in the Turkic language Uyghur. In this construction, the -(i)p suffix attaches to non-final verbs in lieu of finite inflection when more than one verb or verb phrase are juxtaposed in a sentence. Uyghur grammarians have analyzed -(i)p as an adverbial suffix selecting a VP as a complement. In this talk, I first give an overview of the environments in which -(i)p appears, showing that it is involved in a variety of structurally distinct constructions for which a single analysis will not suffice. I suggest that what these constructions have in common is that -(i)p is merged as a 'last resort' to value inflectional features on Uyghur verbs when a higher verbal item blocks agreement with tense. I then motivate -(i)p as realizing various event-related functional heads along a clausal spine, including a functional head between little v and lexical V, a functional above Voice and below viewpoint aspect, and non-finite tense.

Feb 23    Maria Kouneli (NYU) 12:30pm
                Does Kipsigis have adjectives?

It is relatively uncontroversial that nouns and verbs are universal syntactic categories. Adjectives, on the other hand, are more controversial: previous typological studies (e.g. Dixon 1982) have argued that many languages completely lack adjectives as a syntactic category, while recent generative approaches to syntactic categories (e.g. Baker 2003) have argued that adjectives are a universal category, which is, however, subject to significant cross-linguistic variation.In this talk, I present novel data on adjectives in the understudied Nilotic language Kipsigis, which can shed light on the syntax of adjectives cross-linguistically. Firstly, using both morphological and syntactic distribution criteria, I show that adjectives in the language form a morphosyntactic category distinct from verbs and nouns. I also show, however, that they can never directly modify a noun, which is the hallmark property of adjectives in most languages that have them. Kipsigis is, therefore, interesting in having adjectives, but lacking the direct modification type, which raises the question of what determines whether an adjective can directly modify a noun in some languages, but not in others. While I do not have an answer to this question, I argue that adjectives in Kipsigis have exactly the same syntactic distribution and behavior as relative clauses, and present evidence for a head-raising analysis of relative clauses, along the lines of Kayne (1994).

December 8    Juliet Stanton (NYU)
Antipronominality effects and other divisions among A’-extractions

In this talk, I discuss a restriction on English preposition stranding: the ability of a given preposition (P) to be stranded is partially dependent on whether or not P accepts a pronoun as its complement, i.e. whether or not P is an antipronominal context (Postal 1998). Certain A’-extractions permit stranding of antipronominal Ps, while others do not. I extend the theory of wholesale late merger (Takahashi 2006, Takahashi & Hulsey 2009) and propose that while a subset of A’-extractions obligatorily leave full copies in the base position, others don’t. I show that this proposal derives the observed restrictions on P-stranding, and present some additional evidence (and some challenges) for the proposed analysis. [This talk will largely be based on a 2016 LI paper of mine, but advance familiarity with that paper is by no means required.]

December 1    Ailis Cournane (NYU)
On how to link child functional omissions to upwards reanalysis

Syntactic change research regularly appeals to the child innovator to explain upward reanalysis (V > v > INFL; e.g., Roberts & Roussou, 2003; van Gelderen, 2004). In child language, the most pervasive type of syntactic input divergence, or “error”, is the omission of functional morphemes (e.g., Brown, 1973; Snyder, 2007). Following Pannemann (2007), I argue that children learn language specific syntactic structures by assuming a Maximal Category First approach. Under this analysis, omission-laden child strings represent conservative interim structural analyses (rather than input-consistent analyses with unpronounced elements). When the child fails to revise her interim analysis to the input target, the resultant analysis will be upwards in nature (MIN>MAX), as predicted by the child innovator approach. This paper uses a corpus study of modal verbs (Cournane, 2015) to show that child functional omissions provide evidence for reanalyses up the verbal projection.

November 3    So Young Lee (Stony Brook)
Wh-island in wh-in situ languages

Nishigauchi (1990, 1999), Watanabe (1992), Han (1992), and Choe (1995) claim that wh-in situ languages such as Japanese and Korean obey wh-island constraint at LF. They argue that the semantic scope of nwukwu ‘who’ in the embedded clause in (1) cannot be extended to the matrix clause and that (1) is interpreted as the embedded scope reading (1a) only. (1) John-un [Mary-ka nwukwu-lul mannassnun-ci] mwuless-eo? John-Top [Mary-Nom who-Acc met-Comp] asked? a. ‘Did John ask who Mary met t?’ b. ‘Who did John ask whether Mary met t?’ The comprehension tests conducted by Hwang (2011), however, show that the matrix scope reading (1b) is also acceptable with the proper intonation, allowing such a violation. In addition to prosody, there is another factor that potentially affects the judgment of scope: the surface syntactic position of the wh-phrase. Japanese and Korean allow scrambling of wh-phrases, even to the left edge of the matrix clause as in (2). (2) nwukwu-lul John-un [Mary-ka t mannassnun-ci] mwuless-eo? who-Acc John-Top [Mary-Nom t met-Comp] asked? Thus, in this talk, I will present how the wh-phrase moved out of the embedded clause by scrambling affects wh-island effect without prosody, based on the result of acceptability judgment tasks.

October 27    Dan Duncan (NYU)
Spell-Out as the locus of syntactic variation

Syntactic variation, which I take to mean variation between structurally different forms with
identical meanings, is a probabilistic phenomenon like lexical, phonological etc., variation. An
important research question, then, is where and how in the grammar such variation is
implemented. In order to hold to some basic assumptions, namely, that syntax is built from the
bottom-up, and a single derivation is sent to Spell-Out, two approaches have emerged. The
competing grammars approach (Kroch 1994) suggests probabilistic selection between multiple
grammars, which then yields differing derivations. The probabilistic grammar approach (for
example, Burnett 2015) suggests that operations such as Merge are applied probabilistically. As
Embick (2008) notes, these approaches yield identical surface patterns of variation. In this talk,
I’ll go a step further and suggest they make an identical prediction: if variation is implemented at
a decision point (Wallenberg 2013), subsequent operations cannot condition syntactic variation.
In other words, material higher than the variable in the derivation cannot condition such
variation. I test this shared prediction in a study of embedded passives in Pittsburgh English,
which can take two structurally different forms that are identical in meaning (see Edelstein

1. The car needs washed.
2. The car needs to be washed.

A variationist analysis of >500 tokens of embedded passives shows that the selection of
embedded passive is in fact conditioned by material higher in the derivation. This suggests that
variation is implemented in the derivation later than previous approaches claim. I’ll argue for an
approach in which multiple derivations are selected from probabilistically in Spell-Out.
Effectively, I claim that syntactic variation is derived post-syntactically.

October 20    Leland Kusmer (UMass)
Extraction from coordination in Khoekhoegowab

Khoekhoegowab allows a heretofore-unreported predicate coordination construction in which items from the first conjunct may be extract to the prefield, apparently violating the Coordinate Structure Constraint (Ross 1967). This construction parallels the Subject-Gap in Finite Clause construction known from Germanic (see e.g. Kathol 1995). I will present data from original fieldwork demonstrating this construction in Khoekhoegowab and argue that this data is compatible with an analysis in which the conjuncts in SGF are small, i.e. vP or TP sized. I will then sketch a novel analysis drawing on previous work by Bjorkman (2014) and Lin (2001).

October 13    Stephanie Harves (NYU)
Silent GO in Slavic

This talk explores the licensing of a silent predicate GO in three Slavic languages: Russian, Czech, and Slovenian. The construction of interest is where silent GO occurs with a directional Prepositional Phrase, as in (1).

(1) Ja         očen’   xoču  v    N'ju-Jork!
      I.nom  really  want  to  New York.acc
      ‘I really want to go to New York!’       (Russian)

The existence of a silent predicate GO in various Germanic languages goes back to work by Barbiers (1995) and van Riemsdijk (2002), followed up more recently in work by van Dooren (2014). Within Slavic, Marušić and Žaucer (2005) present arguments for a null silent GO in Slovenian. In this talk, I replicate the results of various tests for Slovenian and present new data from Russian and Czech that highlight constraints on the licensing of this silent predicate related to modality and aspect. Such explorations raise questions cross-linguistically as to what licenses the silence of various predicates at large.

September 15    Kensuke Takita (NYU) 12:30pm, 4th floor lounge of 10WP
Voice-Mismatches under N’-Deletion in Japanese

The goal of this talk is to illustrate that kata-nominalization in Japanese (Kishimoto 2006; see also Sugioka 1992, Kageyama 1993, Hoshi 2002, Miyagawa 2009, 2012, a.o.) provides a new testing ground for several issues concerning ellipsis. To be more specific, I argue that so-called N’-deletion (Saito & Murasugi 1990, Saito, Lin & Murasugi 2008), once applied to kata-nominalized clauses, offers a novel way of investigating the issue of the identity conditions, especially voice-mismatches (Merchant 2008, 2013, a.o.). It is also shown that N’-deletion in turn helps us to develop a particular analysis concerning the internal structure of kata-nominalized clauses, in tandem with Shibata’s (2015) proposal regarding the clause structure in Japanese.

September 15    Vera Zu (NYU) 11:00am, 4th floor lounge of 10WP
Disentangling De Se

Everybody has a sense of self. We are conscious of ourselves as an individual, separated from the environment and other individuals. Such self-awareness affects the way we speak and enables us to linguistically distinguish de se beliefs from the beliefs that we are unaware that we have about ourselves.

De se as a subject matter has been discussed extensively in the semantic and philosophical literature, but the following two questions are rarely addressed in previous work.

1 (a) What kind of linguistic expressions trigger de se interpretations?
   (b) What sorts of selves are encoded in the representations of de se attitudes?

In this talk I divide de se expressions into two major classes, i.e., nominal and verbal de se expressions. I argue that the two types of de se expressions differ in at least two aspects.

2 (a) Verbal de se expressions are more restricted structurally than nominal de se expressions.
   (b) Verbal de se expressions are more selective in the types of events they are compatible with than nominal de se expressions.

Drawing empirical data from Newari, Japanese and Korean, I show that verbal de se expressions manifest obligatory control and systematically encode internal perspective of the embedded event. Accounting for the syntactic and semantic differences between the two types of de se expressions, I propose an agreement-based account for verbal de se expressions. The syntactic differences, in turn, reflect distinct de se relations.

April 21    Kunio Kinjo (Rutgers) 10:15am
Agree by minimal search: A probe-free model of agreement

In this talk, I present a new model of Agree, elaborating the idea speculated in Chomsky (2013, 2015) that labeling and agreement employ the same search procedure (minimal search, MS). Specifically, I propose that MS, whether it is employed for labeling or agreement, applies at the phase level and cannot see lower copies. When it is employed for Agree, MS scans a phase from its root node and establishes Agree relations between matching features successively in a top-down fashion. With this model, I examine various verbal agreement patterns, mainly focusing on Bantu languages, where more than two φ-bearing elements appear within a CP phase: verbal agreement in the subject inversion constructions (Kinyalolo 1991; Baker 2008 a.o.), hyperagreement in the complex tense construction (Henderson 2006; Carstens 2011 a.o.), and alternative-agreement (a.k.a antiagreement) in subject extraction contexts (Ouhalla 1993; Schneider-Zioga 2007; Diercks 2010; Henderson 2013 a.o.).

April 14    Abdul-Razak Sulemana (MIT) 10:15am
Q-particles and the nature of Covert movement: evidence from Bùlì

It is a well known fact that wh-questions in many languages may contain an in-situ wh-phrase. The nature of this wh-phrase, however, has been a contentious issue in the literature. While some have argued that the in-situ wh-phrase undergoes covert movement at LF (Aoun, Hornstein, and Sportiche, 1981; Huang, 1982; Nishigauchi, 1990; Pesetsky, 2000, Richards, 1997; 2000; Nissenbaum, 2000; Cable, 2007; 2010; Kotek, 2014; 2016), others have argued against this view (Watanabe 1992; Chomsky 1995; Reinhart 1998). A well-known puzzle for proponents of covert movement are the apparent differences in island-sensitivity between overt and covert movement — leading Huang (1982), for example, to propose that island-sensitivity is a property of S-structure or PF but not LF. The goal of this paper is to show that wh-questions in Bùlì provide strong arguments for covert movement of wh-in situ that eliminate the need to posit any overt/covert differences in island-sensitivity cross-linguistically. The key to this demonstration is the distribution of an overt Q-marker in Bùlì, and Bùlì's status as an in-situ language.

March 10    Dunja Veselinovic (NYU) 12:30pm
Parameters of syntax of must and can (and how they must and can affect language acquisition)

This talk examines the syntax of modal verbs, and more narrowly the distinctions and similarities between epistemic and root uses of modals such as can and must. Starting from a Kratzerian semantic framework (Kratzer 1977, 1981 i.a.), I present evidence from Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS) showing that previous syntactic analyses (Cinque 1999, Hacquard 2006, 2010, i.a.) cannot fully capture the distinctions between the epistemic and root uses of verbs morati ‘must’ and moći ‘can’. Instead, I argue that epistemic modal constructions in BCS are biclausal, in that the modal complement contains a full CP (1), whereas root modal constructions are monoclausal, in that the modal complement is a vP (2). For English epistemic modals, I adopt a modified raising analysis proposed at least as early as Ross (1969) (3).

(1) [TP2 … [ModP epist. [vP … [CP [TP1]]]]]                (epistemic, BCS)

(2) [TP1 … [ModP root [vP …]]]]                                   (root)

(3) [TP2 … [ModP epist. [TP1]]]                                    (epistemic, English)

I tie this analysis to corpus and experimental work on language acquisition, which has shown that children between the age of 2 and 3 experience what is called the Epistemic Gap (EG). During EG, children use modal auxiliaries only in root contexts, with epistemic uses appearing only once children show evidence of ability to embed TPs (Cournane 2015). My corpus work based on Anđelković, Ševa and Moskovljević (2001) CHILDES corpus shows that BCS children’s Epistemic Gap (EG) is protracted, lasting at least until children are 4 years old. I argue that this is due to the parametric differences in the syntax, as children have cross-linguistically been shown to not use CP-complements until after 4 years old (Diessel 2004; De Villiers & Roeper 2016).

December 9    Ian Roberts (Cambridge/UConn)
The Null Subject Parameter in the 21st Century

I begin by giving a very brief historical sketch of work on  null subjects, and summarising the typology of null subjects, distinguishing consistent, partial and radical null-subject/null-argument systems, following Roberts & Holmberg (2010). I then present the recent important proposals in Barbosa (2014) concerning the relation between partial and radical null subjects. Following and developing a suggestion of hers (Barbosa 2014:49), this is extended to consistent null-subject languages and, further, to non-null-subject languages. This leads to a typology of null arguments which links their properties directly to the D-system in general, suggesting a cross-linguistic link between the nature of the null-subject system and the general nature of the “article system” in a given language. Next, I look briefly at the proposals for the semantics of null pronouns and pronouns in general, summarising and building on ideas of Barbosa (2014) and Elbourne (2005). This leads to a consideration of the role of the Person feature in licensing null arguments, following proposals in Longobardi (2008) and Richards (2014). Finally, a general account of “licensing pro” is put forward, which relies on the twin ideas that pro contains a variable and that all variables must be bound at the C-I interface (cf. the Bijection Principle of Koopman & Sportiche 1982/1990). 

December 9    Matt Barros (Yale) and Robert Frank (Yale)
                 Discourse Domains and Syntactic Phases: A Constraint on Multiple Sluicing

Merchant (2001) notes that the clause-mate requirement on multiple sluicing (sluicing with more than one wh-phrase survivor—Takahashi 1994) is suspended when the embedded subject is a pronoun bound by the matrix subject. 

(1) Some student-i claimed {he­-i/*Sally} met with some professor, but I don’t know which student with which professor.

Analyses of this pattern (e.g., Grano and Lasnik 2015) have focused on the role of the bound pronoun in extending the domain over which multiple sluicing can obtain. In this talk, we present new syntactic contexts where clause boundedness is relaxed in the absence of bound pronouns, and others where bound pronouns do not extend the domain, suggesting the bound pronouns are neither necessary nor sufficient. We argue instead that the clause-mate requirement in multiple sluicing is active only when the embedded subject is a DP that lacks a higher co-referential element in the matrix clause.  We label such subjects “shifty," in that they shift the focus of attention in the embedded clause from discourse referents mentioned in the matrix. In the absence of a shifty subject, the embedded and matrix clauses constitute a single domain of syntactic computation, leading to the possibility of multiple sluicing across the clause boundary. We show how this idea can be implemented in a phase-based analysis of clause-boundedness effects and show how it extends to phenomena such as scope and gapping.

December 2    Hadas Kotek (Yale)
                 Unifying definite and indefinite free relatives: Evidence from Mayan (joint work with Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine)

Free relatives (FRs) such as I liked [FR what I read] are described cross-linguistically as a type of relative clause of DP size and definite semantics (Jacobson, 1995, a.o.). Some languages also have what seem to be indefinite FRs, but Izvorski (1998), Grosu (2004), and Šimík (2011) argue that these are structurally distinct and better described as Modal Existential wh-Constructions (MECs). In this talk we present a case where definite and indefinite FRs are more similar than previously thought. We present data from several understudied Mayan languages, focusing primarily on Chuj (Guatemala), where indefinite FRs show a subset of the properties claimed to hold universally of indefinite FRs as MECs. We propose a uniform internal syntax and semantics for FRs and argue that definite and indefinite FRs differ only in their external environments. We analyze Mayan indefinite FRs as property complements of existential verbs (see e.g. Milsark, 1974; McNally, 1998) lacking a DP layer. A DP layer can then be added to form definite FRs, available in any argument position. The study contributes to the typology of FRs cross-linguistically, challenging the claim in Šimík (2010) a.o. that all apparent indefinite FRs must be MECs with modal interpretation.

November 18    Laura Kalin (Princeton)
A new model of nominal licensing

Beginning with Vergnaud 1977 and Chomsky 1980, a rich tradition in generative syntax holds that, in addition to bearing a semantic (theta) role, nominals need to be formally “licensed” by receiving abstract Case. In this talk, I examine two types of nominal restrictions that are typically taken to fall outside the purview of this system, the Person Case Constraint (Bonet 1991) and Differential Object Marking (Comrie 1979, Bossong 1991, i.a.). Based on novel observations about parallels between the PCC and DOM, I turn the predominant theoretical model of abstract nominal licensing (Chomsky 2000, 2001) on its head: I propose that licensing is not a general property of nominals, but rather, is driven by the needs of (certain) “interpretable” nominal features (e.g., [participant], [definite]), rather than by abstract Case. In other words, whether a nominal needs licensing---and in what configurations a nominal may be abstractly licensed---depends on the valued features the nominal bears. The proposed system is also driven by a distinction between obligatory and secondary licensing loci (Levin and Massam 1985, Bobaljik 1993, Rezac 2011, i.a.), with secondary licensers activated only when a feature that requires licensing would otherwise go unlicensed.

November 4    Ken Hiraiwa (Meiji Gakuin/MIT)
Decomposing Indeterminates and Composing Indefinite Pronouns

Japanese builds up various indefinite pronouns by combining “indeterminates” and particles (Kuroda 1965, 2013, Nishigauchi 1990, Shimoyama 2001, among others). While this indeterminate system is thought to be quite systematic, a close look reveals that it does have an gap that has been ignored and unexplained: the non-human universal quantifier “nani-mo” (everything) is missing.

In this talk, I will argue that this gap is by no means accidental. Probing into the internal syntax of indeterminates, I will propose that indeterminates are further decomposed into demonstrative roots and noun class elements and that the gap is precisely predicted by the decompositional approach and the labeling algorithm. I will also explore some consequences of the proposed analysis.

If this line of argument is right, what looks like an accidental and trivial gap provides a crucial window into the nature of the structure-building algorithm in narrow syntax.

October 7    Shih-Yueh Jeff Lin (NYU)
Ulivelivek Wh1 as the Pseudocleft

In this talk, I will show that in Ulivelivek, a dialect of Puyuma spoken in the south-east part of Taiwan, wh-ex-situ questions involve the pseudocleft construction (Aldridge, 2004), arguing that the word maw in the sentence-initial position is a copular verb that expresses the identity between individuals as proposed by Montague (1974). Specifically, the evidence from reduplication, affixation, cliticization, negation, and the response to polar questions shows that maw is verbal in nature. The selectional restriction that maw only co-occurs with DPs supports Montague’s semantic translation for copular verbs, as well as the pseudocleft analysis. I will also propose that the copula-initial word order is derived by VP remnant movement. The conclusion is that [i] Ulivelivek as a V1 language does not have true Wh1 word order, contra Hawkins’ (1983) Generalization that if a language has dominant V1 word order, it tends to have Wh1 word order in wh-questions, and [ii] at least some Austronesian languages do have a copula as well as category distinctions, which supports Richards’ (2009) claim. 

                 The morphological expression of nominal number in Kalenjin

The number system of Kalenjin (a Nilotic language spoken in Kenya) is representative of the systems of Nilo-Saharan languages, which are well-known for their complicated number morphology in the nominal domain (Corbett 2000). The majority of these languages have a tripartite system of number marking: some nouns are interpreted as singular in their morphologically unmarked form and form their plural by the addition of a plural affix, some nouns are interpreted as plural in their unmarked form, and form their singular by the addition of a singulative affix, while others never appear in their unmarked form: they have a singulative affix in the singular, and a plural affix in the plural. The puzzle in such a system lies in the lack of a one-to-one relationship between semantic and morphological markedness irrespective of what number value is chosen as the unmarked one. Even though these systems have gained some attention in the typological literature (Dimmendaal 2000), there has been no theoretical work on their implications for the syntax of number. The purpose of this paper is to fill this gap by describing the number morphology of nouns in Kalenjin and by showing that the data support a split theory of number (Kramer 2009), in which number features are found both on the nominalizing head (little n), and on the head of the functional projection NumP. It is argued that nouns in Kalenjin belong to different classes depending on the kind of number features present on n, in the same way that nouns in Indo-European belong to different classes depending on biological sex gender features on n (Kramer 2015). Noun classification in Kalenjin works in the same way as number-based classification in Kiowa (Harbour 2007)

September 30    Anna Maria Di Sciullo (UQAM/NYU)
On the pronunciation/silence of certain prepositions in Italian

Microparametric variation is tied to specific features and lexical items (Kayne 2005, 2006, 2012; Collins 2007; Liao 2013, a.o.).  We focus on here and there in Italian qui and li, and in Fallese aecche and aloche, a dialect spoken in Abruzzi, where the preposition a (AT/TO) can be pronounced in some cases. We argue that the variation in the pronunciation/silence of the preposition follows from a minimal derivational difference, given independent properties of the computational system, where feature valuing is done via Merge. Furthermore, assuming derivation by phases (Chomsky 2008 and seq.), and that either the Specifier or the Head must be pronounced, and that when the Spec has phonetic feature, it must be pronounced (Collins 2007), it follows that AT/TO is silent in Italian, and that it must be pronounced in Fallese when the Spec of AT/TO is not filled. We argue further that the apparent optionality in the pronunciation of the preposition in Fallese, (a)ecche, (a)loche, and its silence in Italian follows from a difference in the feature specification of the preposition in the languages under consideration. We discuss the predictions of our analysis as well as some consequences for the theory. We predict that other prepositional heads may optionally be pronounced in the historical development of prepositional structures. This is the case in the development of comitative P-Pronoun structures, from Latin cum me/co me, me cum/me co “with me, me with”, to Old Italian con me co “with me with”, to modern Italian con me, “with me” (Di Sciullo et al. 2016). Our analysis supports Minimalist syntax as the variation in the pronunciation/silence of certain prepositions, including their apparent optionality in some languages, follows from the theory.

September 23    Chris Collins (NYU), Room 104 of 10WP
The Khoisan Languages of Botswana

I give a brief overview of the Khoisan languages of Botswana. Then, I discuss the linguistic fieldwork that I did during 2015-2016, focussing on the creation of a Sasi dictionary. The talk is meant for a general audience, including non-linguists.

September 16    Kensuke Takita (Meikai/UConn)
Labeling for Linearization

The general framework of Chomsky (2013, 2015) introduces a distinction among syntactic objects, namely, syntactic objects that can be labeled and ones that cannot be, which is quite novel because they have been taken either always labeled (as in the X-bar theory and Chomsky 1994’s version of the bare phrase structure theory) or totally label-free (see, for instance, Collins 2002, Seely 2006, Narita 2014). In this talk, I examine what consequences the distinction may have for linearization. Specifically, I first hypothesize that an unlabeled syntactic object of the form {XP, YP} is invisible to linearization so that the relative order between XP and YP cannot be determined, leading to an unpronounceable result. Then, I show that this hypothesis sheds new light on several issues concerning the invisibility of “traces” to the labeling algorithm, EPP-(un)satisfaction by null elements, a potential variability with respect to the size of Spell-out domains.

May 16    Ivona Kučerová (McMaster)
                 The rise and fall of nominatives

A Syntax 101 theory of case assignment posits that nominative is an abstract case assigned by finite T. Yet, nominatives appear in environments where they cannot be licensed by finite T (as in Icelandic infinitival complements), or there can be more than one nominative noun phrase per finite T (as in NP-NP copular clauses). However, if a nominative phrase is in nominative, it triggers agreement, interacts with other DPs in PCC constructions, and shows restrictions on person in general. Morphological case theories have an easier time with the distribution of nominative forms in the structure but equally do not provide much insight as to why nominatives exhibit these consistent syntactic properties. In other words, there seems to be a notion of nominative-ness independent of case licensing.
I provide novel empirical evidence that this notion of nominative-ness corresponds to a nominal structure labeled by a D head (Chomsky 2013) where that the core labeling feature formally corresponds to CI licensing of [+PERSON] feature (see also Sudo 2012, Longobardi 2008, Landau 2010). This work thus provides new empirical evidence for a formal connection between Case and PERSON (Schutze 1997, Martin 1999, Chomsky 2000, Bejar and Rezac 2003, Richards 2008, a.o.). The core empirical evidence for the proposal comes from a micro-variation in Slavic numeral constructions. As we will see, if the internal structure of the numeral blocks PERSON from labelling the structure, the resulting structure may appear in argument positions typically occupied by nominatives, but they fail to agree, license secondary predicates, interact with person features of other DPs and create boolean conjunction.

Apr 8      Yohei Oseki (NYU)
                Primitive Functional Elements of Argument Structure

In this talk, we explore primitive functional elements in the domain of argument structure. Specifically, under the strong working hypothesis that functional elements with the same sound must have the same meaning (“No Homophony” Hypothesis of functional elements; Richard Kayne, class lecture at NYU in Spring 2016), Japanese verbs paradigmatically identified in the previous literature (Miyagawa, 1984; Jacobsen, 1992; Volpe, 2005) are syntagmatically decomposed into primitive morphemes. Following the generative constructionist approach to argument structure (Scafer, 2008; Pylkkanen, 2008; Wood, 2012; Marantz, 2013), we then propose the system in which these primitive morphemes are identified as functional heads like little v, Appl, or Voice and combined to build the argument structure skeleton. Theoretical implications are two-fold: (i) the proposal that Voice and little v are two distinct functional heads is corroborated (Harley, 2013; Legate, 2014) and (ii) the syntactic approach to morphology should be correct, where there is only one computational engine to build complex "words" and phrases (Koopman & Szabolcsi, 2000; Koopman, 2005).

Apr 1        Yuta Sakamoto (UConn)
Clausal Complement Anaphora in Japanese: Deep or Surface?

In this talk, I investigate the possibility of extraction out of both overt and covert anaphora sites in Japanese, i.e. extraction out of clausal complements that are "replaced" by soo 'so' and clausal complements that are phonologically missing. Specifically, I show that both of them allow certain types of extraction out of them, unlike clausal complement anaphora in English, where extraction is uniformly banned out of its domain. Based on the extraction possibility, I then argue that the Japanese cases in question are instances of ellipsis, not pro-forms. Furthermore, I argue that both deletion and LF-copying are available strategies for implementing ellipsis. In particular, I argue that "replaced" clausal complements are best analyzed in terms of deletion and silent clausal complement anaphora in terms of LF-copying.

Mar 25    Steven Foley (UCSC)
                Morphological conspiracies in Georgian agreement 

A conspiracy arises when more than one (e.g. phonological) process serves to enforce a single constraint on surface forms. A major theoretical advantage of an Optimality Theoretic grammar is the ability to capture conspiracies: instead of relying on otherwise unconnected rules that just happen to prevent some marked structure, OT allows us to refer directly to it by ranking a markedness constraint above relevant faithfulness constraints.

In this talk I identify a morphological conspiracy in Georgian, and use it to argue that morphology is governed by an OT grammar. Again and again, the language’s agreement system goes out of its way to avoid Multiple Exponence — the presence of more than one morpheme in a word exponing a single feature. Abstractly, when probes X and Y both Agree with a single argument for feature [F], and morphemes α and β can spell out [F] on X and Y respectively, multiple exponence of [F] is avoided by blocking the insertion of either α or β. Within Distributed Morphology (DM; Halle & Marantz 1993), such blocking relationships can be derived through some suite of postsyntactic operations, like impoverishment. However, these operations do not refer to multiple exponence directly, and thus fail to capture the conspiracy.

Instead, building on previous work in OT morphology (Kiparsky 2000, Trommer 2001, Wolf 2008, Caballero & Inkelas 2013), I propose that Vocabulary Insertion — the operation that chooses which morphemes expone which syntactic terminals — is governed by ranked, violable constraints. DM's Subset Principle is decomposed into morphosyntactic faithfulness constraints; highly ranked morphosyntactic markedness constraints (like *MultipleExponence) replace DM's postsyntactic operations. I show that Georgian's conspiracy against multiple exponence, along with other peculiarities of its agreement system, follow from standard constraint interactions.

Mar 11    Tricia Irwin (UPenn)
Verb vs. structure: Who's the boss?

In this talk I'll discuss the tension between verb meaning and syntactic structure with respect to intransitive sentences like A boy walked in. I'll show that in sentences like these, the syntactic structure that 'walk' occurs in matters more for VP meaning than the contribution of 'walk' on its own. This analysis helps explain some observations on PP extraposition that go back to Guéron (1980), and it also leads to the possibility that some sentences that we might not have thought were structurally ambiguous actually are.

Jan 29    Chris Tancredi (Keio University) 2pm, Rm 103 of 10WP
Contrastive Topic, Focus and Givenness

In this talk I will argue that contrastive topic, focus and givenness are three distinct, independent phenomena.  In particular, I will argue that Givenness cannot be analyzed as a side effect of focus interpretation and the reverse is impossible as well; that focus and contrastive topic, while behaving in similar ways, need to be formally distinguished locally; and that Given contrastive topics need to be distinguished from non-Given contrastive topics.  While this may look like the worst of all possible worlds, I will also show how Constant’s 2014 insights into how to reduce contrastive topic interpretation to focus interpretation can be preserved by making small changes to the syntactic assumptions underlying his analysis.