Prospectus defense | Making reference with bare nouns: Perspectives from three Northeast Indian languages

Ushasi Banerjee
Event time: 
Friday, December 1, 2023 - 12:15pm to 1:30pm
Dow Hall room 201 (LingSem) See map
Event description: 
Forming referring expressions in natural language has been shown to involve varying mechanisms crosslinguistically. While numerous languages do it via determiner articles, many others use bare nouns. The term bare refers to determinerless noun phrases in the (neo)-Carlsonian tradition. Although bare nouns and bare noun languages have been widely studied, there remain to be open questions - which properties of definiteness do bare nouns encode, are singular bare nouns actually singular or are they underspecified for number, what roles do different plural morphemes play in bare noun languages, what does it mean for classifier languages to have plural morphemes, and so on.

The motivation behind this dissertation is two-fold. First is to bring understudied languages of India into linguistics discourse. Specifically, I bring perspectives from 3 languages spoken in the North-East Region of India - Khasi (Austroasiatic), Mongsen Ao (Tibeto-Burman) and Mizo (Tibeto-Burman), updating current theories on bare noun languages. Second is to address the abovementioned open questions. As it happens to be the case, all 3 of these languages show unique patterns - obligatory co-occurrence of regular plural marking and numeral classifiers, optional classifiers, and absence of both regular plural marking as well as classifiers. I address these patterns using the Neo-Carlsonian framework and show that the facts in Khasi, Mongsen Ao, and Mizo nominal systems can be explained using such an approach.

Event Type: 
Lunch Talks