General Public

Want, Hope, and Regret

The classical phenomenon of obviation is that the pronominal subject of a subjunctive clause must be disjoint from the attitude-holder subject of the immediately higher clause (# Je veux que je parte `I want for me to leave’). The effect has been attributed to a problem in Binding Theory or to blocking by competing infinitives. Invoking critical new data from Hungarian, I will argue that obviation is neither specific for subjunctives, nor due to competition. Instead, it belongs to a larger family of semantic or pragmatic clashes.

Minimalist Parsing as a Psycholinguistic Model

Computational models grounded in rich grammatical formalisms can be used to explore whether — and to which degree — the structural representations hypothesizedbytheoreticallinguistsarerelevantto sentenceprocessing. In this talk, I present a line of work exploring how a top-down parser for Minimalist grammars (Stabler, 1996; MGs) can explain well-known contrasts in off-line sentence processing in terms of subtle structural differences.

The Bigger or the Biggest?

Languages differ on where they choose to make morphological distinctions. For instance English counts with two related but separate morphemes, the comparative and the superlative, to express meanings about the degree to which an individual has an adjectival property compared to others (1). On the other hand, Romance languages such as Spanish or French encode the union of the meanings expressed by (1a-b) through a unique periphrastic form (more + Adj.), as seen in (2).

(1)  a. The bigger hat.

Active Existential in Lithuanian: Remarks on Burzio’s Generalization

In this talk, Milena discusses how a thematic Voice, a projection that introduces an external argument theta-role, interacts with the assignment of structural accusative case. In the various theories about case, we find different versions of Burzio’s (1986)  generalization. For some, the assignment of accusative case is interpreted as dependent on the assignment of structural nominative (Marantz 1991, Woolford 2003, McFadden 2004, Preminger 2014).

Simultaneous Chronology: The Sequencing of Innovations in the Polabian Vowel Shift

In historical phonology, innovations that occurred in a language prior to its documentation are sequenced one of two ways. If the output of one innovation alters the input of another, the two innovations are understood to be distinct events which happened at separate times (relative chronology). When the inputs and outputs of two events do not interact, they cannot be sequenced into separate time periods. In this talk, I highlight a third chronology: one in which two innovations interact at the same time.

The Phonetics and Phonology of Word Stress in Abkhaz

In this talk I will present my dissertation prospectus, which deals with theoretical phonology of word stress. I focus on the prosodic system of Abkhaz ([abk] Northwest Caucasian, Abkhazia), which I use to evaluate predictions between theoretical approaches to prosody. The empirical core of the dissertation will comprise acoustic analyses of how stress is realized, as well as corpus analyses of stress alternations across the lexicon. These will form the basis for a phonological analysis of Abkhaz stress.

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