Infinitival Complementation in Applachian English (Syntax Colloquium)

Greg Johnson (MSU)
Event time: 
Friday, April 12, 2013 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
Dow Hall (Room 201) See map
370 Temple Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

At first glance, the variation in infinitival forms in Appalachian English (AppE) appears unsystematic. In this talk, I present two examples of non-finite complementation in AppE which differ predictably from Standard American English (SAE). I argue that both (i) the licensing of bare infinitive forms in direct perception complements and (ii) the presence of infinitival-to in causative/experiencer ‘have’ stem from other properties of the dialect. Specifically, I propose that matrix passivization of direct perception complements is possible because the passive participle does not block the establishment of relations between the matrix and passive clauses. Evidence for this comes from extreme leveling in the dialect and a deeper assumption about the effects that extreme and prolonged leveling has on the grammar of speakers. In the second part of the talk, I turn to an account of causative/experiencer ‘have…to’ constructions in the dialect. I argue that syntax of the construction in both dialects is exactly the same. However, the presence of infinitival-to in AppE ‘have’ cases is a result of a default insertion rule which applies in the absence of tense and agreement features, a state of affairs similar to that found with verbs under causative restructuring verbs in Catalan and in Salentino Italian.

Event Type: 
Lunch Talks