Tag Archives: Syntax
7/13-14 Patterns of Alignment in the Indo-Iranian Languages: Towards a Typology

July 13-14, 2013
2336 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: Andrew Hippisley (andrew.hippisley@uky.edu), Greg Stump (gstump@uky.edu)

Click here for workshop website.


See Workshop Description

In their early history, the Iranian and Indic languages developed split-ergative alignment, independently but in parallel. The languages in both branches vary widely with respect to both (a) their degree of reversion to accusative alignment and (b) the trajectories that they have followed in this reversion. The objectives of this workshop is to establish a typology of paths from split ergativity to full accusativity and to identify parallels and contrasts between Indic and Iranian languages.


Invited speakers
Ashwini Deo (Yale University)
The emergence of accusative objects in New Indo-Aryan ergative clauses.

Geoffrey Haig (University of Bamberg)   
Alignment change in Iranian: what happened to agreement?

Andrew Hippisley & Greg Stump (University of Kentucky)
The morphomics of split-ergativity in Indo-Iranian

Paul Kiparsky (Stanford University)
Ranking volume predicts directionality: an OT-based theory of syntactic drift

Agnes Korn (Universität Frankfurt)
Patterns of ergativity and differential object marking in Iranian

Annie Montaut (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris)
From the parallel constructions for past and modal future to the meaning of the ergative case markers

John Payne (University of Manchester)
Alignment and coordination in Iranian

Pollet Samvelian (Université de Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle)
Clitics and alignment in Iranian languages

Saartje Verbeke (Universiteit Gent)
Alternating argument constructions in Indo-Aryan: Case studies from Nepali and Kashmiri

Deadline for abstract submission is February 1, 2013. Abstracts should be sent to both  andrew.hippisley@uky.edu and gstump@uky.edu.


, ,

Comparative Syntax

Acrisio Pires – University of Michigan
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 3:30-5:20 pm
2353 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course aims at introducing students to research on comparative syntax. It is directed to students interested in a more thorough understanding of the common properties of the syntax of human languages and of the possible variation across their structure.

Human languages have strikingly similar structural features, but at the same time they also vary in significant respects. A substantial amount of advances in our understanding of human language has resulted from the individual and comparative analysis of distinct languages. Their similarities and differences can be explored from cognitive, formal, theoretical and typological perspectives. This course focuses on a generative perspective to comparative syntax, by also taking into account insights from linguistic typology. It investigates approaches aiming at explaining both common properties and boundaries of variation across languages. Some of the questions that arise in this context are: what structural principles are common across different human languages? What kind of variation can we find across human languages? What parameters or alternative mechanisms determine the range of this variation? How can this variation be analyzed and understood in a precise way? What mechanisms give rise to this sort of cross-linguistic variation over time?

The course focus will be: (i) to introduce students to a generative approach to syntactic variation across languages, by discussing aspects of variation that have received prominent attention in the linguistics literature (e.g. word order variation regarding verb movement, wh-questions, empty categories); (ii) to explore extensions to different approaches to cross-linguistic variation (e.g. variation in clause structure and word order, and across case systems); (iii) to consider potential difficulties and limitations to unifying approaches to syntactic variation (e.g. non-configurational languages).

Students in this course should have taken an introductory undergraduate course in syntax or semantics.

, , ,

Tense, Mood, and Aspect in AAE

Lisa Green – University of Massachusetts
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2325 Mason Hall

See Course Description

Tense and aspectual properties in AAE are at the top of the list of descriptions—especially those from Creolist and Africanist perspectives—that are intended to highlight the ways in which the linguistic variety differs from other varieties of English. On the other hand, modality in AAE is not commonly addressed in the literature. This course will examine syntactic/semantic and morphological properties of tense, modality, and aspect (TMA) in AAE. Questions have been raised about the interpretation and syntactic representation of tense, especially given weak morphology and the fact that overt tense markers may not be expressed in AAE. This course will present a general overview of tense marking and the ways in which time-related meaning is computed in AAE.

The second part of the course considers grammaticalized markers in AAE that combine with predicates and other markers to indicate information about the way an event is carried out. Questions about properties of tense marking within aspectual sequences in AAE have not received much attention perhaps because so much emphasis has been placed on grammaticalized aspect markers, with the view that AAE is aspect prominent. For instance, some aspectual sequences can take a present or past perspective while still others are limited to present contexts. We will analyze empirical data from different sources in investigating the TMA system in AAE. This section of the course will also consider the types of subtle distinctions that are made in the AAE tense/aspect system. For instance, when overt or covert present tense auxiliary BE (i.e. is) combines with V(erb)-ing, the result is an in-progress reading, as in the following:

1) Sue IS running.

2) Sue running.

     In-Progress Reading:

     Sue’s running is already in progress.

However, when aspectual be combines with V(erb)-ing, the result is an in-progress or inception reading, as in the following:

3) Sue be running when the Mardi Gras characters pass by.

     In-Progress Reading 1: Sue’s running is generally already in progress when the Mardi Gras characters pass by.

     Inception Reading 2: Sue generally begins to run when the Mardi Gras characters pass by.

In addition to considering verbs types (e.g., state and activity) and their lexical properties, we will also examine the role of morphological endings, such as –ing and –ed, in aspectual sequences. Finally, this course will investigate modality in light of modal auxiliaries as well as mood markers in AAE.

We will extend the study of TMA in AAE to practical contexts by considering questions such as the following:

1) How is the TMA system acquired, and how is it reflected in child AAE?

2) How is TMA marking reflected in the discourse structure of ex-slave narratives?

3) To what extent is TMA marking variable in AAE?


The Morphosyntax of Native North American Languages

Marianne Mithun – University of California, Santa Barbara
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2336 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course will explore the Institute theme of universality and the complexities of linguistic variability by examining major morphological and syntactic features in languages indigenous to North America. The languages show considerable diversity among themselves, comprising well over 50 distinct families. At the same time, we find a number of areal traits that were apparently spread through contact. Many of the languages exhibit highly developed structures that are relatively rare or less developed elsewhere. A number show elaborate morphological structure, which has implications for syntactic structure. After an overview of traditional and current issues in morphological and syntactic typology, we will move to more specific topics. Among them will be functional differences between roots and affixes; compounding, noun incorporation, and bipartite stem structures; certain elaborately developed sets of distinctions in the domains such as space, means and manner, evidentiality, and reality status; relations between morphologically-defined and syntactically-defined lexical categories; head versus dependent marking and differences that arise from the locus of marking; pronouns and agreement; polysynthesis and ‘configurationality’; cross-linguistic differences in the core/oblique distinction; alternative alignment patterns and their combinations; the variable strength of syntactic relations between predicates and lexical arguments; affix order and constituent order; and issues in clause combining, including ‘switch-reference’, logophoricity, and continua of finiteness.

, ,