Enoch Oladé Aboh


Ling 213/613: Hybrid Grammars: Dynamics of Language Contact, Acquisition, and Change

Traditional approaches to language acquisition and change have typically assumed that children develop a mental grammar that replicates uniformly the linguistic knowledge of the current members of their monolingual speech communities. Therefore, language change must result from external factors: language contact involving a cohort of L2-learners. Likewise, multilingualism, thus language contact, is commonly assumed to hinder acquisition, and presupposed ‘intense’ contact situations are regarded as propitious for creolization. This course proposes a shift of perspective, focusing on multiple-varieties ecologies such as creole societies in which speakers-listeners can acquire, alternate between, and sometimes ‘mix’ different languages, dialects, or registers. Two major questions are addressed in this course: How does acquisition proceed in such multiple-varieties ecologies? and What does a theory of the multilingual mind tell us about acquisition of L1 and the emergence of grammars?

Familiarity with syntax and linguistic variation is assumed. 

Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 1:00p.m. - 2:15p.m.

Ling 281/681: Comparative Syntax: A View from Kwa (Niger-Congo)

This course adopts a micro-comparative perspective by looking at closely related languages (i.e., Gbe and Kwa families of Niger Congo) as well as a macro-comparative perspective that situates these languages in the larger context of typologically and genetically unrelated languages (e.g., Romance, Germanic). We set the stage by first looking at word formation, word classes, and the role of tones at the morphosyntactic level. Building on this, the first part of the course discusses topics such as Tense, Mood, Aspect (TMA) expressions, word order variation (e.g., VO vs. OV patterns), serial verb constructions, restructuring, and the notion of ‘light verb.’ These topics establish a profile of the clause structure in these languages. With this knowledge at hand, the second part of this course addresses the question of information structure and the commonly assumed parallelism between the CP and DP domains. The descriptive framework adopted in this course is the Cartographic Approach developed by Rizzi (1997), Cinque (1999), Aboh (2004), and much related work. Some background in syntax is assumed.

Term: Spring 2019
Day/Time: Tuesday & Thursday, 4:00p.m. - 5:15p.m.