Tag Archives: Syntax
6/29-30 Diachronic Syntax

June 29-30, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: David Lightfoot (lightd@georgetown.edu)

Click here for Workshop website.

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Work on diachronic syntax has developed remarkably over recent decades, primarily through two impetuses: (i) seeking to explain change in I-language through changes in E-language and principles of language acquisition, and (ii) using search mechanisms linked to computerized corpora of partially parsed historical texts.  The workshop will be devoted to exploring these developments.  Both developments link work on sociolinguistic variation with the emergence of new I-languages and this will be an emphasis of the workshop.

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7/06-07 Variation and Syntax: Where are we now, and where do we go next?

July 6-7, 2013
2353 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Jeffrey Parrott (jkparrott@gmail.com)

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Alan Munn, Michigan State University
Jeffrey Keith Parrott, University of Copenhagen

Supported by the National Science Foundation BCS-1265444

Invited speakers:
David Adger, Queen Mary, University of London
Leonie Cornips, Meertens Institute, Amsterdam
Bill Haddican, Queens College, City University of New York
Cristina Schmitt, Michigan State University
Jennifer Smith, University of Glasgow
Sali Tagliamonte, University of Toronto

For at least the past two decades there has been a growing interest in the reconciliation of sociolinguistic variation and syntactic theory. These vital fields of inquiry have been estranged virtually since their inception, with longstanding disputes mainly centered on fundamental methodological and theoretical issues. However, recent work (e.g., Adger & Smith 2005; Adger 2006; Adger & Smith 2010; Nevins & Parrott 2010, among others) has demonstrated that variationist empirical methods are indeed well suited for investigating variable phenomena of relevance to syntactic theorizing, and furthermore that independently developing theories of syntax and its interfaces have become sufficiently articulated that plausible mechanisms of intra- and inter-individual variation can be proposed. Thus, the purpose of this workshop is not only to synthesize our current understanding of syntactic variation, but to stimulate future collaborative research beyond the conventional domains of either variationist sociolinguistics or theoretical syntax. For instance, application of both variationist empirical methods and refined theoretical concepts (e.g., Adger 2010; Parrott 2012) to the study of second- or first-language acquisition (e.g., Smith et al. 2007; 2009; Parrott 2009), multi-lingualism or -dialectalism, language/dialect attrition or death, heritage languages or dialects, or other emerging topics increases the potential for unification of an even greater scope. To such ends, the workshop is primarily aimed at students and young researchers and features three invited one-hour lectures and up to fourteen 30-minute talks, along with panel commentary, small group collaboration, and plenty of time allotted for general discussion.

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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.


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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.


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7/13-14 Workshop on Interfaces at the Left Periphery

July 13-14, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: Ed Cormany (esc53@cornell.edu) (primary), Sarah Courtney (sgc47@cornell.edu), Cara DiGirolamo (cmd279@cornell.edu)

Click here to see workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Since Rizzi’s (1997) original syntactic exploration of the sentential left periphery, the complexity of the domain at a clause’s edge has received attention from linguists studying syntax, semantics and prosody. However, study of the cross-linguistic variety in clause boundaries, clause typing, and the information-structural use of peripheral positions has only scratched the surface. This workshop seeks to bring together linguists working on the “left edge” of the sentence from a variety of theoretical backgrounds. We hope to facilitate dialogue between discourse theorists, semanticists, syntacticians, phonologists, and phoneticians to come to a better understanding of what is going on just above (syntactically) or just before (phonologically) the traditional IP domain. Topics that the workshop will cover include but are not limited to: clause typing, complementation, discourse constraints on argument structure, information structure, and word order change as they pertain to the left periphery, sentence-initial positions, and the CP domain.

We will solicit applications to fill three panels. Panels on any aspect of clause boundaries or the left periphery not covered in the invited panels — particularly sessions on prosodic and phonological interfaces — are welcome. Research on understudied languages or languages that have not traditionally been part of the left periphery literature are encouraged. Submissions from graduate students or recent Ph.D. recipients are especially welcome.  Full panel submissions, including presenters and a chairperson, will be accepted in early spring.
The organizers will invite speakers for another three panels, each of which address different aspects of the left periphery.

The first invited panel will center on clause types and the syntax/semantics/pragmatics interface at the left periphery. The panel will bring together researchers working on semantic interpretations at the highest level of the clause, focusing on questions, imperatives, and the distinction between matrix and subordinate clauses.

The second invited panel will focus on the discourse properties of the periphery. This panel will seek out research on the contextual and information-structural constraints on phrases that are displaced from their base positions into the left periphery, as well as research about peripheral discourse particles that perform clause-linking functions.

The third invited panel examines clause boundaries and peripheries from a diachronic perspective. The panel will present research dealing with the roles that information structure and leftward displacement of arguments play in word-order changes (e.g., the development and loss of V2 constructions).

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Agreement and Word Order in Minimalist Syntax

Vicki Carstens – University of Missouri
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2330 Mason Hall

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The relation called Agree plays a very prominent role in Minimalist theory: it underlies phi-feature agreement, Case valuation, and syntactic movement. This course will explore in detail some of the rich morpho-syntactic phenomena connected with Agree and their implications for syntactic theory and Universal Grammar. Bantu languages will provide much but not all of the empirical content, which will also draw on English, German, Icelandic, and other languages TBA. Topics will likely include various inversion constructions, complementizer agreement, (transitive) expletive constructions, concord phenomena, Feature Inheritance theory, and issues in structural and inherent Case.

 This course will assume familiarity with Minimalist syntactic theory.

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Comparative Syntax

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

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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.

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Computational Psycholinguistics

John Hale – Cornell University
Lars Konieczny – University of Freiburg
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2330 Mason Hall

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This course examines cognitive models of human sentence comprehension. Such models are programs that express psycholinguistic theories of how people unconsciously put together words and phrases in order to make sense of what they hear (or read). They hold out the promise of rigorously connecting behavioral measurements to broader theories, for instance theories of natural language syntax or cognitive architecture. The course brings students up to speed on the role of computer models in cognitive science generally, and situates the topic in relation to neighboring fields such as psychology and generative grammar. Students master several different viewpoints on what it might mean to “attach” a piece of phrase structure. Attendees will get familiar with notions of experience, probability and information theory as candidate explanations of human sentence processing difficulty. This course has no prerequisites although exposure to artificial intelligence, generative grammar and cognitive psychology will help deepen the experience.

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Derivational Approaches to Minimalist Syntax

Sam Epstein – University of Michigan
Hisa Kitahara – Keio University
Dan Seely – Eastern Michigan University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 pm
2353 Mason Hall

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This course will cover a number of issues in contemporary Minimalist Theory and analysis. We will discuss why Minimalism, with its commitment to explanation, not mere description or just “data coverage,” accords with the standard goals of scientific theorizing. The question of which properties of human grammars are Linguistic and which might follow from more general law (third factor explanation) will be discussed in this context as well.  We will cover many aspects of Chomsky’s most recent work, and our own lines of research concerning this framework of inquiry, including:  The fundamental properties of derivations; the nature of computational efficiency; representations; Bare Output Conditions; the operations Merge, Agree, Labelling; constraints like the No Tampering Condition; the primacy of CI; Feature Inheritance and set intersected representation in Bare Phrase structure (multi-dominance).

Ideally the student will already have two courses in syntax, will know the mechanics of basic Minimalist analysis, and will have a strong interest in the goals of minimalist method, specifically the quest for explanation.


Introduction to Minimalist Syntax

Norbert Hornstein – University of Maryland
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2306 Mason Hall

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This course will be built around novel analytic techniques made available with the adoption of minimalist assumptions.  As novelty is best appreciated against the background of what is conventional, there will be some retrospective glances, with an eye to understanding both what is new and what is continuous with earlier approaches.  To ground the discussion empirically, we will concentrate on the following “hot” areas:

  • Phrase Structure
  • Control and Binding
  • Parasitic Gaps
  • Sidewards Movement
  • Multiple Interrogation and Superiority
  • Multiple Spell Out , Cyclicity, Islands and Ellipsis
  • Existential Constructions

The main idea will be to introduce the central concepts of Minimalism in the context of analyses of these kinds of phenomena.  The minimalist concepts we will discuss include:

    • Bare phrase structure, labels
    • Merge, Internal and External
    • Chain Uniformity
    • Economy, Merge-over Move
    • Relativized Minimality, minimal-domains, Minimal Link Condition
    •  Extension, Virus Theory
    • Bare Output Conditions
    • Levels, Interfaces
    • Last Resort and Greed
    • Linearization
    • Features, Interpretability, Valuation
    • Agree, Probes, Goals
    • Phases
    • Copy Theory and Reconstruction

Topic by Topic:

How To Build A Simple Sentence: For the beginning of classes read Chapter 3 of The Minimalist Program, and Bare Phrase Structure

    1. Merge, External/Internal
    2. Label
    3. Case, minimality and minimal domains, S-structure
    4. Theta relations
    5. D-structure
    6. X’-theory, Bare Phrase structure, Generalized Transformations
    7. Extension

 For the following topics readings will be added as we move along.

  1. How To build a Complex sentence: Raising, Passive, Wh-movement
    1. Internal Merge
    2. Greed, various kinds
    3. Minimality
    4. Cyclicity
    5. Probes and Goals
    6. Extension and Virus Theory
  1. Control and Raising
    1. Theta roles
    2. D-structure
    3. Features, Greed, EPP
    4. Null case
    5. Bare Phrase structure and the status of PRO
  1. Parasitic Gaps and Adjunct Control
    1. Sidewards Movement
    2. Extension and Virus theory
    3. Probes/Goals and Greed
    4. CED effects
  1. Binding and Reconstruction
    1. S-structure,
    2. Copies, LF and PF
    3. Principles A, B, C
    4. Binding and movement
    5. Locality and spell out/phases
  1. Multiple Interrogation
    1. Superiority
    2. Minimality
    3. Attract vs Move
    4. Tucking In
    5. Virus Theory and Extension
  1. Existential Constructions
    1. Agree and Move
    2. Binding and features
    3. Locality
    4. Merge over Move
    5. Numerations
    6. Phases

By this time we will hopefully have passed the semester equator (we are planning about ten weeks for those core topics). At this point we want to open the discussion to Phase Theory. Since this is a more current topic, we expect the course to evolve towards a more participatory, seminar-like, environment, and we even plan to invite more senior graduate students to join in on the show. Be prepared to engage on a frank discussion of the topic.


The usual for this sort of class. We will have regular homeworks that we may even exchange among participants. We allow – in fact encourage – collective work on homeworks, so long as eventually every participant writes their own contribution and participation is explicitly acknowledged. We will expect some conference-like abstract by the middle of the semester with a concrete suggestion for a research topic. The requirements will end with a short squib, based on the abstract, which can be the basis for a future paper, hopefully to be submitted to a conference.

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Introduction to Morphosyntax

Karlos Arregi – University of Chicago
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2407 Mason Hall

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This course is an introduction to the internal structure of words and its relation to the structure of phrases and sentences. The topics covered will include examination of the primitives of word structure, isomorphism between syntactic and morphological structure and departures from such isomorphism, and the interplay between syntax and morphology in determining morpheme order. The course will draw on data from typologically diverse languages, and will use the tools of current morphological theory to analyze phenomena such as agreement, cliticization, and argument-structure changing morphology.

Requirements: Students must have had an introductory-level course in linguistics. Some previous experience in syntax is recommended.

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Language Typology

Edward L. Keenan and Laura Kalin
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2306 Mason Hall

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This course focuses on syntactic typology. We correlate syntactic types with
genetic and areal groupings of languages and certain morphological patterns. We present five major topics selected on a broad semantic basis. For each topic we present patterns of variation, review or suggest explanations for them and assess how well they can be characterized in current syntactic theory. We close with a formal presentation of how to state language universals over syntactically non-isomorphic languages.

Our topics:

1. Word order types: Verb Final, Verb Initial, Serial Verb Languages
Hixkaryana: ?The odd man out
2. A. Relative Clause Formation
Prenominal, postnominal, resumptive pronouns, finite/non-finite verbs
B. Valency Affecting Operations (VAOs)
Rich Voice Systems (W. Austronesian)
Rich Applicative Systems (Bantu)
Syntactic Role: VAOs feed extraction
3. Anaphora Patterns in the World’s Languages
Reflexives: templatic, affixal, clitics, full arguments
Reciprocals: templatic, affixal, clitics, full arguments
4. Quantification in the World’s Languages
D(eterminer) Quantifiers
A(adverbial) Quantifiers
Linguistic Invariants over non-isomorphic grammars

Pre-requisite for this course: an introductory linguistics course (with at least some basic syntax).


Pidgins and Creoles: Social and Cognitive Aspects

Marlyse Baptista – University of Michigan
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2333 Mason Hall

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Some of the most compelling questions in the field of pidgins and creoles consist in identifying the linguistic sources and cognitive forces that shape a given creole: why does a particular creole look and sound the way it does? Where do its linguistic properties come from? What are the original populations and languages that contributed to its genesis?  This investigation ultimately hopes to shed light on two major cognitive questions:  how does the mind pull together linguistic materials from distinct sources to form a creole? What is the nature of the cognitive processes involved in creole formation?  In exploring some of these queries, this particular course will focus on the processes of convergence, relexification and grammaticalization and will contrast, regarding the latter point, general theories of grammaticalization (Lehmann, 2002; Hopper & Traugott, 2003; Fischer, 2007) with their generative (Van Gelderen, 2004) and usage-based (Tomasello, 2005; (Boyer & Harder, 2012) counterparts.  Comparing these approaches will allow us to gauge how each framework accounts for specific aspects of creole grammars and to assess their contribution to our understanding of how creole languages develop.   Besides its focus on cognitive issues in creole formation, other major topics in this course will include:

1) Socio-historical contexts of creole genesis, how a distinct history of population contact results in distinct structural outcomes;

2) examination of the morpho-syntactic properties of a set of creole languages;

3) contributions of L1 and L2 to the emergence of creole specific features.

Students enrolling in this class should have taken and introductory course in linguistics.

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Sentences and the Social: Representing Syntactic Variation

Julie Boland – University of Michigan
Lauren Squires – Ohio State University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2333 Mason Hall

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Knowing the grammar of your language entails understanding how meanings map to syntactic structures, but these mappings are not strictly one-to-one.  We know, for example, that “Chris gave the book to Kim”  and “Chris gave Kim the book” are semantically equivalent and interchangeable. Likewise, we know “That car don’t run” is semantically equivalent to “That car doesn’t run,” but the two expressions are not interchangeable because the former is sociolinguistically marked. In this class, we explore the intersection of syntactic variation and sentence processing. Our approach assumes that knowledge of syntactic alternants, and of the social patterning of those alternants, is incorporated into our mental representations of grammar. As such, this knowledge should also be reflected in psycholinguistic theories. We will consider current theorizing that bears on this topic, and its limitations. Readings and discussion will address the following set of issues:

1. How do children deal with syntactic variation in the input?

2. How do adults represent and acquire syntactic variants that they themselves don’t use?

3. What is the role of language variation in sentence processing?

4. How do/can current models of linguistic competence and processing accommodate syntactic variation?

This course will be taught seminar-style, with students leading some of the discussions. The readings will focus on recent experimental research using a variety of online and offline methodologies. Students will work together to develop research proposals, which they will present to the class and write up as a final paper.

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Syntactic Typology, Syntactic Theory, and Syntactic Reconstruction

Mark Hale – Concordia University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2336 Mason Hall

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This course is designed to walk students, beginning with conceptual basics, through the myriad of complex issues which surround the relationship between the two distinct approaches to `universalism’ (typological generalization and formal model construction) and the task of syntactic reconstruction. There is considerable debate in the literature as to the possibility of actually reconstructing the syntax of a protolanguage, with a general split between nay-sayers (usually ‘formalists’, though I myself hate using labels) and advocates (usually ‘functionalists, though, ditto) regarding the process.

We will begin with a consideration of the relationship between typology,  formal model construction and reconstruction methodology in a somewhat less controversial (though still subject to much debate) domain: that of phonological reconstruction, thus exploring the debate between typologists and formalists in a domain within which there is no serious dissent as to the practability of reconstruction.

We next turn to a survey of typological approaches to syntactic structure, including the wealth of new tools (e.g., the WALS database) now available to assist scholars in establishing an empirical foundation for their investigation.  The general theoretical issue of the ‘grounding’ of typological generalizations will be raised at this juncture as well (since this forms part of the basis for the conflict between ‘functionalists’ and ‘formalists’ in reconstruction).

Next, we turn to the often very different kinds of generalizations that ‘formalist’ models seek to account for, the types of evidence which are offered up for such generalizations, and the ‘grounding’ (in this case, in UG) of the accounts offered.

We turn finally to the question of how these two types of approach play out for the issue of syntactic reconstruction. What are the ‘units of analysis’ in the two domains which COULD (in principle) be reconstructed? What would the successful reconstruction of such units tell us about the ‘syntax’ (in the descriptive sense) of the proto-language and what would it leave unclear?

In conclusion, we move to the practical consideration of three specific ‘test cases’:

(1) embedded clause stuctures in Proto-Indo-European,

(2) the ergative vs. accusative reconstruction of Proto-Polynesian and

(3) Wackernagel’s Law and the ‘left periphery’ (i.e., syntax-discourse interface) in Proto-Indo-European. We will conclude with some general lessons, open avenues for future research, etc.

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Syntactic Variation: Sentences and Utterances

Ralph Fasold – Georgetown University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
2333 Mason Hall

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This course will explore how inherent variability, as asserted by linguistic variation scholarship, can be understood with respect to variation in syntax. We will limit ourselves to what Suzanne Romaine has referred to as “pure syntactic variables”, as opposed to morphosyntactic/ morpholexical, morphophonemic and pure phonological, variables.  The approach to syntax that we will assume is the Minimalist Program (MP) of Noam Chomsky. Relating variation in “pure syntax” to the MP is more daunting than it might at first seem, because MP theory and variation theory are not about the same thing.  MP syntax is about sentences.  Variation analysis is about utterances.  Sentences are abstractions; utterances are observable events. One cannot, strictly speaking, write or speak a sentence, only an utterance approximating one. The course will propose that we need separate approaches to sentences and utterances.  Both contribute to the understanding of language, but are fundamentally separate.

We will take up in detail four cases of “pure” syntactic variation: 1) the alternation among which, that and zero in relative clauses as studied by Tagliamonte et al (2005), 2)  the variation between pronouns and reflexives that exists even where the classic binding theory forbids it, 3) variation in word order in Dutch verb clusters as researched by Barbiers (2005), and 4) the alternation between preposition stranding and pied-piping of WH-noun phrases. The second and third cases emerge from my own research.

The approach will be in-class lectures augmented by Powerpoint slides.  There will be two out-of-class assignments, in which students will be asked to search an online corpus for examples that support or challenge the analyses of reflexives and pied-piping presented in class. The assignments will call for a discussion of how the examples relate to the presented analyses.

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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

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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.

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