SE-LFG07 (03/03/2012, SOAS)

7th South of England LFG Meeting

We are planning the 7th South of England LFG meeting, a student-oriented meeting for presentations and discussion of various topics from an LFG perspective. It is planned for Saturday, 3 March 2012, at SOAS, London. Please feel free to attend if you are interested, or if you would like more information please get in touch with Mary Dalrymple.

Meeting details: 

3 March 2012, Room 4418, SOAS main building, Russell Square.

For directions to SOAS see here: (also see map below). To view any planned engineering works affecting your journey within London, click here.

Sign in at the reception when you arrive to get a visitor sticker that allows you to enter the SOAS main building.

Meeting agenda:

11.00-12.00: An LFG-framed account of cross-linguistic L2 development (Frank Romano, Essex & UCL)

Past research on the second language acquisition of English morphosyntactic properties has converged on robust evidence that: (1) paths of acquisition of grammatical morphemes are developmentally set and largely unaffected by the learners’ L1; (2) exponents of Infl are optionally omitted; and (3) misuse of exponents is systematic and non-random.

The purpose of this study was to test the validity of Processability Theory (Pienemann, 2007) a theory of L2 development grounded in LFG and accounting for the above phenomena. As well as L2 English data, methodologically equivalent data from L2 Italian were taken into examination. Testing such language makes available important cross-linguistic comparisons with a language differing from English in respects of the richness of inflectional morphology, the possibility of null subjects in preverbal finite position, and other well-known syntactic properties. A second purpose of the study was to measure the extent to which a ‘scheduling’ of L1 transfer exists in IL development at stages when L1-L2 transfer is found.

Adult instructed Spanish and French learners of English, as well as English and Spanish learners of Italian, recruited respectively in the UK and Italy, were tested on their knowledge of the following Infl-related properties: copula be/essere morphology, null/overt subjects, auxiliary be/essere and have/avere morphology, AUX.FIN V.NONFIN (T AGR) as in ‘is going’ or e’ andato, and lexical V morphology. Data was elicited via three tests, a gap-fill, a sentence completion, and an oral task.

The results were partially compatible with the predictions of Processability Theory insofar as the rule for acquiring obligatory use of overt subjects in L2 English and both null and overt subjects in L2 Italian is acquired earlier by L1 groups who can positively transfer the L1 lexical entries to the L2 (French-English, Spanish-Italian). On the other hand, it is argued the delay in acquisition registered for Spanish-English and English-Italian groups and due to negative transfer from L1 suggests the learners’ task involves two steps: a first consisting of acquiring (English-Italian case) or cancelling (Spanish-English case) pronominal incorporation (the ((↑SUBJ PRED)=’pro’ equation) from the lexical entries of V; a second consisting of determining the kind of agreement relationship (anaphora agreement with a preceding topic or full SV AGR) overt and null subjects participate in.

From an applied perspective then: (1) the study offers meaningful empirical evidence that prediction of the L2 development of morphosyntactic properties across configuration and non-configurational languages is possible, with discrete success, via Processability theory and LFG. Lastly, it provides evidence prima facie for developmentally-set L1 transfer.

12.00-12.30: Prosodic Focus in Embedded SVO Hijazi Arabic Structure (Muhammad Al-Zaidi, Essex)

This study concerns analysis of prosodic focus in Hijazi Arabic. It aims at an exploration of the interaction between prosody on one hand, and the syntactic and discourse level of the utterances on the other. This analysis is a step towards an LFG discourse-grammar-prosody model.

We investigated how focus was prosodically realized in Hijazi Arabic by monolingual speakers. Acoustic analyses showed that all speakers raised pitch and intensity of focused words but they only raised intensity of post-focused words. These findings have implication for prosodic typology.

12.30-14.00: LUNCH

14.00-15.00: Sasak nasal prefix verbs (Peter Austin, SOAS)

The Sasak language is spoken on the island of Lombok (immediately east of Bali) by around 2.5 million speakers. It shows great internal variation, both geographical and social, with a complex linguistic ecology. The geographical varieties show variation in phonology, lexicon and morpho-syntax, especially in the areas of clitic pronouns (Austin 1996, 2006) and valence-changing processes (Austin 1996, 2000, 2001), but also in verbal morphology. All varieties have nasal-prefix verbs (also called ‘nasal verbs’, Arka 1998) and non-nasal prefix verbs (also called ‘oral verbs’ or ‘zero verbs’), however in some varieties the contrast has syntactic relevance in terms of relating to cross-clausal ‘pivot’ choice, while in others the contrast is related to different semantic-pragmatic interpretations of the Agent NP and non-agentlike NP in a two-argument clause (where such an argument must be interpreted as non-referential or non-specific in the nasal-prefix verb construction) or the information structure properties of the clause.

This paper explores the distribution of nasal-prefix verbs in varieties of Sasak. It uses data from geographically-based surveys, including comparative materials from ‘frog story’ and ‘pear story’ texts, together with other kinds of narratives. The goal of the paper is to determine how different varieties employ nasal-prefix verbs and which functions such constructions carry out.

15.00-15:30: Stative passives in German (Vicky Thomas, Oxford)

The stative passive in German has been analysed in several ways in the literature. This presentation argues that distributional and morphological evidence support an analysis in which a copula verb sein ('to be') is used with a deverbal adjective. In addition, the fact that not all German predicative constructions involving resultatives can be unambiguously assigned passive or non-passive argument structure can be captured if a participle-adjective conversion rule occurs before passivization, as suggested by Kibort (2005) for English.

15:30-15:45: break 

15:45-16:45: Impersonal passives and verbless predicative constructions (Anna Kibort, Cambridge)

Impersonal passives and predicative adverbial constructions challenge the  standard theory by disallowing a subject at any syntactic level of  representation.  Verbless predicative constructions, on the other hand,  are a challenge since they have no main (finite) verb.  Some verbless predicative constructions are known as "small clauses", others as nonverbal predication constructions without a copula.  Based on Polish  data, I will present a typology of constructions involving nonverbal predication.  I will show that the so-called passive participle can function as the predicative element in all these constructions, without  the constructions necessarily being passive.  I will attempt to provide  f-structure models for all the constructions: those without a finite verb, those without a subject, and those without either.  Finally, I will  hypothesise how to reconcile the active vs passive ambiguity of some of these constructions with the fact that active and passive predicates have different a-structures.

16.45: Discussion, planning for next time 


Kakia Chatsiou,
20 Mar 2012, 03:45
Kakia Chatsiou,
9 Mar 2012, 07:36