This is a survey course that initially addresses a number of broad issues that are central to current language contact research, such as:
1. typologies of contact languages
2. typologies of processes involved in language contact
3. how are the processes related to the results?
From that we focus on the emergence of creole languages, surveying the major approaches to creole genesis (bioprogramme hypothesis, relexification hypothesis, etc.). Questions to be addressed include the following:
4. is creolisation gradual or abrupt phenomenon?
5. is creolisation exceptional?
6. is creolisation to be solely rendered in terms of L2-learning?
The focus of the course will be on the morphosyntax of contact languages, and it, therefore, assumes a basic knowledge of morphological and syntactic issues.
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|The Germanic languages and the SOV/SVO difference
|Sten Vikner (with Eva Engels)
This course will discuss micro- (and not so micro-) variation across the
Germanic languages, with a particular focus on the SOV/SVO-difference.
Empirically, it is not so difficult to show that e.g. English and the
Scandinavian languages are SVO and that e.g. Dutch, Frisian and German are
SOV, although it is rather less straightforward to determine whether
Yiddish is SVO or SVO. Theoretically, the issue is more complex. There are
a number of different explanations available at the moment, ranging from a
directionality difference (with different base orders) to the universal
base hypothesis with massive remnant movement ("roll up"), with some other
options in-between. We shall review a number of these, couched in
We will also discuss verb clustering and various kinds of verb movement
such as verb second and V-to-I movement.
The last one or two sessions (which will be jointly presented with Eva
Engels) will center on the differences and similarities between object
shift (as found in Scandinavian, i.e. SVO) and scrambling (as found in
continental West Germanic, i.e. SOV).
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|Variation in Athapaskan languages
Athapaskan languages are renowned for their complex verb morphology. This course is
concerned with the kinds of microvariation in morphology found between languages of this
language family of North America, and with the broader implications of the variation.
This family is remarkable for the uniformity found across the languages, but at the same
time a considerable amount of micro-level variation exists. This course will focus on
three different aspects of variation, the ordering of morphemes within the verb word, the
nature of arguments and inflection, and aspect.
The order of morphemes within the verb of an Athapaskan language is generally treated as
controlled by a template which stipulates the order of morphemes for that language.
However, recent research suggests that there are a number of principles that underlie the
order. The first part of the course will focus on morpheme order and the semantic,
syntactic, and phonological factors involved in determining this order, with attention to
the differences between languages and where these differences lie.
Athapaskan languages show subtle differences in the distribution of pronouns, especially
of third person object pronouns, and this topic has been the object of intense study. The
second part of the course will focus on arguments, including a study of pronouns,
especially the third person pronouns, incorporation, and animacy restrictions. Some
attention also will be paid to differences between languages in terms of syntactic
structure, as this is important to understand object pronouns.
Athapaskan languages mark aspectual distinctions in several different ways. The third
part of the course focuses on the morphology and semantics of aspect, and variation
across the family.
The course is comparative in nature, with some attention to directions of language change.
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This course will investigate universals and parametric differences in the interpretation of natural
language expressions. We will focus on differences in the compositional interpretation as well as
on differences in the lexical inventory of languages. Empirically, the focus is on European and
Chadic languages. We will also discuss data from a range of other languages, including Chinese,
Japanese, Kwa, and Strait Salish. Domains for which potential parameters will be discussed include
- Quantifier Semantics: Universal quantification, wh-CONJ-quantifiers, Distance-Distributivity
- Focus-Sensitive Particles
- Temporal Semantics
I will argue that some aspects of semantics are universal and invariant; some aspects of semantics
involve macro-parameters; and some data may even require us to postulate semantic micro-parameters.
The course is at advanced level and presupposes a basic knowledge of truth-conditional semantics.
Students wishing to take this course for credit should write a short paper (~10-12 pages) on a
language of their choice (preferably, but not necessarily Non-European), showing how this language
fares with respect to (some of) the parameters discussed in the course.
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|Constants and variables in tonal varieties of German and Dutch
Week 1. Typological overview of word and sentence prosody. Typological work in
the area of stress, tone, accent and intonation will be reviewed (Hyman,
Beckman, van der Hulst). The aim is to arrive at a clear conceptualization of
these notions and their motivations, rather than producing a categorisation of
Week 2. Tonal languages in Western Europe. By way of preface to the study of the
Dutch/German (Central Franconian) tonal dialects, we will look at the
structure of Northern Bizkaian Basque and varieties of Swedish/Norwegian. The
tonal system of the dialect of Cologne will serve as an example of the Central
Franconian group (Elordieta, Bruce, Gussenhoven & Peters).
Week 3. Central Franconian dialects as spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium
(Limburgian) will be studied with the aim of establishing the structural
variables along which they differ and charting the path along which they may
have developed from the (hypothetical) original Cologne variety. These dialects
are Sittard, Roermond, Venlo in the Netherlands and Tongeren, Hasselt and
Borgloon in Belgium (Hermans, Heijmans, Gussenhoven & van der Vliet, Peters).
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|Crosslinguistic variation in morphosyntax
This course will consider recent proposals concerning the sources of
morphological variation cross-linguistically, in both nominal and
In the nominal domain, well look at pronominal inventories and
the nature and structure of their featural makeup, as well as their
interaction with syntactic operations. Well also consider whether
there is any way to deduce whether a given pattern of syncretism is
morphologically or syntactically generated, and what types of
morphosyntactic effects might result.
In the verbal domain, well consider the status of v°, and
crosslinguistic differences in whether verbs have visible
Root+verbalizer structure, either in syntax or morphology. The status
of mirror-principle effects and the utility of attempting a
syntactically-determined derivation of morpheme order will be of major
concern, as will the nature of head-movement.
Readings, Part 1:
Harley, Heidi, and Elizabeth Ritter. 2002. Person and number in
pronouns: a feature-geometric analysis. Language 78:482-526
McGinnis, Martha. 2005. On markedness asymmetries in person and number.
Language 81.3, 699-718.
Cowper, Elizabeth. 2005. A Note on Number. Linguistic Inquiry. vol.
Williams, Edwin. 1994. 'Remarks on lexical knowledge', Lingua 92, pp.
Bobaljik, Jonathan David (2001). Syncretism without paradigms: Remarks
on Williams 1981, 1994. Yearbook of Morphology 2001: 53-85
Harley, H. 2005. Underspecification, Impoverishment and Meta-paradigms:
Accounting for syncretism. To appear in Adger, Harbour and Bejar, eds,
Bejar, Susana. 2000. "Structural markedness in formal features: deriving
interpretability." Revue qu(c)becoise de linguistique 28.1: 47-72.
Readings, Part 2:
Luis M. Barragan. 2003 Movement and Allomorphy in the Cupeno Verb
Construction. MITELF 5.
Rice, Keren. 2000. Morpheme Order and Semantic Scope: Word Formation in
the Athapaskan Verb. Cambridge University Press.
Hale, Ken. 2004. On the significance of Eloise Jelineks Pronominal
Argument Hypothesis. In Formal approaches to function in grammar, ed.
by A. Carnie, H. Harley and M. Willie. John Benjamins. 11-43.
Davis, H. and H. Demirdache 2000. On Lexical Verb Meanings: Evidence
from Salish. In J. Pustejovsky and C. Tenny (eds.), Events as
Grammatical Objects: the Converging Perspectives of Lexical Semantics
and Syntax. CSLI: Stanford University Press, 97-142.
Folli, Raffaella, Heidi Harley and Simin Karimi. 2005. Determinants of
event type in Persian Complex Predicates. Lingua 115:1365-1401.
Johns, Alana. 2005. Restricting Noun Incorporation: Root movement. Ms.,
University of Toronto.
Butt, M. and G. Ramchand, Complex aspectual structure in Hindi/Urdu.
In N. Ertischik-Shir and T. Rapoport (eds.) The Syntax of Aspect.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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|Tone and segmental structure
The majority of human languages use tone in their lexical
phonological systems. In many languages, these tones interact with
properties of consonants and vowels in a variety of ways. By studying
these interactions, we can discover many things about the way in
which phonological systems operate; about the internal structure of
phonological segments; the value of formal theories; the interaction
between phonetics and phonology, and between synchrony and diachrony;
the influence of morphology on phonology; the relation between
lexical phonology and higher-order structure (intonation); and the
reality of phonological universals.
In this course, we will therefore study tonology in European, African
and East-Asian languages from the specific angle of segmental
structure. Starting from a basic introduction into the most important
generative theories of segmental structure -- feature geometry,
phonetically based phonology, element theory, etc. -- we will proceed
to see what each of these has to say about the issues mentioned
above. The emphasis will be, eventually, on two specific types of
interaction: (i) with voicing of consonants, and (ii) with height of
vowels. The effect of (i) is well-attested in a large variety of
languages in all languages families just mentioned, both as a
diachronic process and as synchronic rules. The effect of (ii),
albeit phonetically real and well known e.g. as a disturbing effect
in analyses of intonation, is much more rare.
This course requires some elementary knowledge of phonological theory
(feature theory, very basic rule-based analysis and optimality
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|Areal linguistics and areal typology
This course will deal with the well-known fact that geographically
contiguous languages often share similarities that cannot necessarily be
ascribed to a common protolanguage. This is particularly evident in
those cases where the relevant languages are not genetically related to
each other. We will focus on two different ways of approaching such
phenomena traditional areal, or contact linguistics and modern areal
typology. The primary goal of areal linguistics consists in pointing out
those linguistic phenomena that can / must have arisen due to language
contacts within a certain geographic area and in identifying linguistic
areas, or Sprachbünde. It studies phenomena from a micro-perspective
by looking at several linguistic varieties spoken in the vicinity of
each other and paying attention to minimal details. The recent 15-20
years have seen the birth and rapid development of a new linguistic
discipline, areal typology, which is, in a way, a marriage between
traditional areal linguistics and linguistic typology. It studies
phenomena from a macro-perspective by looking at many languages coming
from different areas (preferably from all over the world) and by working
with fairly rough categories in which particular small details are often
neglected in favour of gross generalisations. Its goal consists in
pointing out uneven distribution of various linguistic phenomena across
the world and using it as evidence for cross-linguistic contacts.
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|Language change and typology in Austronesian
The Austronesian language family, with over a thousand languages, is one of
the world's largest language families, with Malagasy of Madagascar at its
westernmost extreme, Rapanui of Easter Island at its easternmost. This course
will provide an overview of the morphosyntactic typology of Austronesian
languages and of variation across the family, together with an account of the
history of the family and the movement of Austronesian speakers across the
Most Austronesian languages were until recently unwritten, and I will give
some attention to the methodological question of how we reconstruct their
Various regions within the family differ significantly from one another in
their typology (i.e. in the organisation of their grammars), and this
variation will be surveyed and a diachronic account will be given of how each
grammatical organisation emerged from its
In the New Guinea region, Austronesian speakers have long been in contact with
speakers of Papuan languages, and I will examine the effects of this contact
on the grammars of certain Austronesian
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|Maria Aloni and Robert van Rooij
In many contexts, expressions receive a richer interpretation than
their intuitive analogs in classical logic. Grice (1967) proposed that
we should still assume the traditional semantic analysis of these
expressions, but account for the additional inferences in terms of the
assumption that the speaker behaves rationally in a cooperative
conversation. In this course we will start with a discussion of Grice's
work on implicatures and presuppositions and with early implementations
and extensions due to Horn, Gazdar, an others. Then we will discuss
shortcomings of these approaches and discuss some alternatives, and
especially those proposed by the lecturers.
Standard Gricean pragmatics assumes that we can determine the semantic
meaning of a sentence independently of pragmatics. Especially
proponents of Relevance Theory have argued that this cannot be done:
what is expressed by a sentence depends on what is a, or the most,
relevant interpretation. In this course we will propose some ways of
determining the relevance of a sentence, and discuss how it can be used
to determine what is expressed by a sentence.
Specific topics that we will discuss
- 'Scalar' implicatures and exhaustive interpretation
- Relevance and the analysis of interrogative sentences.
- Indifference readings of indefinite pronouns
Coursenotes: handed out for copying by the lecturers.
First week: introductory
1 Implicatures including scalar, I-implicatures, free choice implicatures (Grice,
2 Topic-focus structure and questions (Rooth, Groenendijk and Stokhof 97)
3 Dynamics of discourse: presuppositions, anaphora and aboutness (Stalnaker 74, Heim 83)
Second and third weeks:
1 Relevance, questions and NPIs (van Rooij 02)
2 Exhaustive interpretations and implicatures (Schulz and van Rooij 2006)
3 Epistemic implicatures: Existential and universal free choice items (Schulz)
4 Presuppositions: solving some problems with the satisfaction theory
Requirements: Some knowledge of logic/introduction to semantics
Literature: collection of articles
Requirements for credits: two sets of take-home assignments.
Syllabus & Reading List
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|Processing at the Syntax-Discourse Interface
This course will take up various processing issues concerning
the syntax-discourse interface. In the beginning, it will focus on the
processing of ellipsis with an emphasis on forms of ellipsis that may
cross sentence boundaries. Several dimensions of ellipsis processing
will be considered: the role of prosody, what determines the preferences
for sloppy identity, if and how distinct discourse coherence relations
govern the type of antecedent needed for elided constituents (Kehler,
2002), what determines the processing and grammatical
status of ellipsis sentences with flawed antecedents and whether
scope economy in VP ellipsis is a matter of grammar or processing (Fox,
1995, Anderson, 2004). Time permitting, the last part of the course will
explore interface problems stemming from the choice of nominal phrase, e.g.,
the processing of indefinite singulars vs. bare plurals in episodic and 'generic' sentences.
Anderson, C. (2004) The structure and real time comprehension of
quantifier scope ambiguity. Northwestern University doctoral
Arregui, A., Clifton Jr., C., Frazier, L. and Moulton, K. (Under revision)
Processing elided VPs with flawed antecedents: The Recycling hypothesis.
Journal of Memory and Language.
Carlson, K. (2002) Parallelism and Prosody in the Processing of Ellipsis
Sentences in Routledge Series Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics.
New York: Routledge.
Fox, D. (1995) Economy and scope. Natural Language Semantics 3(3),
Frazier, L. and Clifton Jr., C. (2000) On bound variable interpretations:
The LF-only hypothesis. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 29, 129.
Frazier, L. and Clifton Jr., C. (2001) Parsing coordinates and ellipsis.
Copy ". Syntax 4, 1-22
Frazier, L. and Clifton Jr., C. (2005) The syntax-discourse divide:
Processing ellipsis. Syntax, 8 (2), 121-174.
Frazier, L, and Clifton Jr., C. (To appear). Ellipsis and discourse
coherence. Linguistics and Philosophy.
Kehler, A. (2000) Coherence and the Resolution of Ellipsis, Linguistics
and Philosophy 23(6), 533-575.
Kehler, A. (2002) Coherence, Reference and the Theory of Grammar,
Shapiro, L. P and A. Hestvik (1995) On-line comprehension of VP-ellipsis:
Syntactic reconstruction and the semantic influence, Journal of
Psycholinguistic Research 24, 517-532.
Shapiro, L.P., A. Hestvik, L. Lesan and A. R. Garcia (2003) Charting the
time-course of VP-ellipsis sentence comprehension: Evidence for initial
and independent structural analysis, Journal of Memory and Language 1-19.
Tanenhaus, M. and Carlson, G. (1990) Comprehension of deep and surface
verb phrase anaphors. Language and Cognitive Processes, 5, 257-280.
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|The structure and challenges of Tukang Besi
(an Austronesian language from central Indonesia)
Tukang Besi is a member of the widely-spread Austronesian family,
found in the centre of Indonesia and on the very edge of the major
extra-Formosan linguistic boundary. As such, it displays typological
features of northern, western, and eastern languages, sombining
apparently incompatible structural features in an interesting blend.
This course will present a formal and diachronic view of the
structure of Tukang Besi phonology, morphology and syntax, showing
how many of the challenges that Tukang Besi poses for theoretical
models can be understood as representing a synthesis of patterns and
structures found in separate related languages. Despite their
disparate origins, the analysis of these different constructions or
morphemes must be different in some cases to account for their
changed function in Tukang Besi. As much as possible the
constructions and morphemes in question will be presented in their
historical and areal context, presenting contrastive data from
related Austronesian languages, both those more conservative and
those more innovative. The focus of the course will be morphosyntax,
and the course assumes a basic knowledge or morphological, syntactic
and historical issues.
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rough, to follow.
Donohue, Mark. 1999. A grammar of Tukang Besi. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Requirements for credit:
Assessment for the course will be based on an essay, written in either a formal framework
or from a typological perspective, examining an aspect or aspects of the phonology or
morphosyntax of Tukang Besi, elaborating on data and analysis that have been presented in
class. A comparison with other Austronesian analyses will be particularly favoured.
In this class we will study the interface between prosody, syntax and semantics in different languages, with an emphasis on German and English. The aim of the class will be to question the role of prosody in the production and perception of speech, and will take as a point of departure the hypothesis that prosody is highly efficient in processing language. From the production side, the role of prosody in grammar will be studied. Different frameworks like those of Gussenhoven, Selkirk, Rooth, Schwarzschild, Féry & Samek-Lodovici, among others, which look at how accents are distributed in sentences with different syntactic and semantic structures, will serve as the starting point of the class. It will be shown that the integration of finer levels of information structure forces us to radically change our views on prosodic levels and prosodic organization of discourse, as well as its interplay with syntax. Models postulating only two higher levels of phrasing (like Nespor & Vogels framework) are decidedly not sufficient, even if it has been so successful in the past. The second part of the class will be a typological overview of how
different types of languages are using, tonal register, tone excursions and
other correlates of phrasing: intonation languages, pitch accent languages,
tone languages and phrase languages (which use only phrasal boundary tones) will be shown to make radically different use of intonation and prosodic structure. We will look at nominal and prepositional split constructions for comparison in a large number of languages. Finally, a few hours will be dedicated to processing issues. In the last part of the class, the psycholinguistic literature will be discussed: what are the experiments which have been conducted these last 20 years, and did they help to advance our understanding of processing prosody? What should we do to improve the state of our knowledge in this domain?
The students will be expected to conduct small experiments after reading
relevant papers. In the ideal case, the experiments will be prepared and led to an end during the school. Very much favored will be research on poorly studied languages.
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|Topics in language acquisition
|Requirements: A good background in syntax is presupposed.
This course is meant to discuss some of the issues and proposals emerged in the last years in the field of language acquisition. It is organized around three topics.
Although the inception of the first multi-word utterances is accompanied by the optional omission of functional material, we know that babies are sensitive to this material. I will offer an account of these discrepancy based on developmental consideration and from consideration of language change.
Children display great linguistic capacities during the first 4-5 years; however, their linguistic behaviour is not adult-like. I will illustrate these points discussing wh-movement and NP-movement. In the last case, I will discuss the issues raised by passives, unaccusatives and raising verbs from a cross-linguistic perspective.
An increasing interest to childrens processing has been observed in the last year. How do children cope with locally ambiguous sentences, how do they recover from a misanalysis, which principles do they follow? These are some of the questions that I will address. I will also examine the relation between sentence comprehension and the memory system in children.
Readings (other readings will be indicated during the course):
De Vincenzi, M., L., Arduino, L., Ciccarelli, R., Job, 1999. Parsing strategies in children comprehension of interrogative sentences. Proceeding of ECCS 99, Siena.
Felser, C., & T., Marinis & H. Clahsen, 2003. Childrens processing of ambiguous sentences: a study of relative clause attachment. Language Acquisition
Friedmann, N. & R.,Novogrodsky, 2004. The acquisition of relative clause comprehension in Hebrew: a study of SLI and normal development. Journal of Child Language 31, 661-681
Guasti (2002) Language acquisition the growth of grammar. MIT Press (chapters:1,2,3, 6,7)
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|Introduction to Corpus Linguistics
|Requirements: assuming a basic background in linguistics but not in corpus linguistics or computational linguistics
Corpus data can be used to answer linguistic questions in many domains. While corpora have traditionally been widely used in lexicography, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics etc., theoretical linguistics for a long time seemed to have no use for them. This has been changing in recent years, and now many theoretical linguists use corpora, along with other types of linguistic evidence like introspective judgments or experimental data, (a) as example banks, (b) in qualitative studies, and (c) in quantitative studies.
There is, however, a danger in using corpus data uncritically. The design and pre-processing of a corpus is crucial for the questions that can be addressed with it. This means that one has to know about the types of corpora, the annotation schemes and procedures, as well as the search facilities before deciding on a corpus for a given research question. The course will focus on providing linguists with the necessary background for their own corpus studies.
The course will consist of three parts.
case studies and sample corpora
background: linguistic questions and corpus data
different kinds of linguistic evidence: introspection, psycholinguistic and
neurolinguistic experiments, field data etc.: where does corpus data fit in?
collecting and pre-processing corpora
tokenizing, tagging, lemmatizing, syntactic annotation, phonological annotation
annotation models (flat annotation vs. standoff annotation)
The lectures will be accompanied by exercises and mini-projects.
morphological productivity ('general-purpose' corpora)
second language acquisition (learner corpora)
language change (historical corpora)
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|Syntactic change in Germanic
|Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of generative syntactic theory (Principles and Parameter, Minimalism).
Credits obtained on the basis of attendance and submission of a short paper.
This course explores microvariation as observed in the historical development of a single language and of a group of closely related languages. More specifically, we will focus on changes in the syntax of English and other Germanic languages. The main syntactic areas to be examined are:
Each of these topics will be introduced by a detailed discussion of the developments in the history of English. Against this background, we will then consider comparative issues raised by the histories of other Germanic languages. The main aims will be (a) to identify grammatical parameters accounting for the diachronic variation within a generative framework; (b) to consider how and why certain changes occur (e.g. frequency patterns; language-internal and language-external causes); (c) to introduce students to tools available for research in historical syntax (parsed corpora).
- Verb Second
- V-to-I movement
- Directionality (OV/VO; V-Aux/Aux-V)
- Negation (the expression of sentential negation; negative concord)
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|Formal approaches to language change
This course will examine prominent formal approaches to language change,
for example the cue based approach (Lightfoot 1999) and views ascribing
change to Least Effort strategies (Clark/Roberts 1993). Special attention
will be paid to recent formal accounts of grammaticalization
(Roberts/Roussou 2003, van Gelderen 2004), and the application of the
mechanisms designed to account for grammaticalization to other types of
language change will be tested. The controversial issue of
unidirectionality in language change will be addressed (Faarlund 2005).
Moreover, there will be an emphasis on gradualness of change and on
linguistic variation, both at an inter-speaker and an intra-speaker level,
contrasting Krochs Double Base Hypothesis (Kroch 1989, 1994) with
approaches arguing for optionality within the same grammar (Henry 2001,
Jónsson & Eythórsson 2005). Among the linguistic phenomena discussed will
be verbal syntax (V2, VP order), clitic distribution, expletives,
negation, auxiliaries and case marking. The empirical basis for the
discussion will be drawn from a variety of languages, including modern
Germanic languages such as Icelandic and Faroese, and from older Germanic
and Indo-European languages. Working knowledge in syntax is a
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|Range and Limits of Syntactic Microvariation
|Sjef Barbiers, Hanns Bennis
This course addresses a number of issues that are central to current
microsyntactic research, such as:
The empirical domains to be discussed include (among others) reflexive
systems, short and long relativization, WH-doubling, structure of the
left-periphery, subject pronoun doubling, DPs and verb clusters. Data are
mainly drawn from the large scale dialectsyntax project SAND (267 dialects
of Dutch) that was carried out in the Netherlands and Belgium between 2000
and 2004 and from the new European dialect syntax project (EDISYN) on
What is the locus of syntactic variation?
Is it possible to reduce all syntactic variation to lexical
properties of functional heads?
If PF is a locus of variation, what should a theory of spell-out
options at PF look like?
How do we account for syntactic doubling phenomena if doubling
involves semantically superfluous material?
What are the limits of syntactic variation, i.e. which syntactic
properties are universal?
How do we account for mesovariation, i.e. the fact that some
syntactic properties are invariant within a family of dialects
but not within a family of closely related languages?
Day to day programme and background reading for the course
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some articles (zip)
|Multilingualism: Focus on cross-linguistic influence
|credits - Power-point presentation
During the last 30 years, research on simultaneous bilingualism has developed the view that language separation and language influence (on the level of language competence) are mutually exclusive. Some researchers have argued that bilingual children cannot separate their grammatical systems and that this is the reason for why there is cross-linguistic influence. Other researchers have assumed that cross-linguistic influence is not evidenced in bilingual children because they separate the languages from early on. Only recently, the two concepts - language separation and language influence - are no longer conceived of as opposing descriptions of language development in bilingual children. This new view has become fashionable since separation and, especially influence, do not cover languages as a whole, but they apply to particular grammatical domains. Platzack (2001) has agued that the left periphery of the clause is particularly vulnerable in language development. The course will discuss evidence from the left periphery and introduce and define the concept of computational complexity. Seen this way, language influence can be reduced to the bilingual child's usage of a less complex option which is characteristic of language A to the derivation of syntactic constructions in language B, for which the adult grammar uses a more complex analysis than for language A. The language combinations which are at the center of the course are German-Italian, German-French and German-Spanish. The grammatical phenomena to be discussed are subordinate clauses, topicalization, object (in contrast to subject) clitics, argument omissions, and verb-second phenomena. The course will help to exclude other possible factors which have been advanced in the literature to explain cross-linguistic influence, frequency and the presence of a strong or preferred language (language dominance / language preference).
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|Verb Semantics and Argument Realization
Attempts to characterize the event structure-to-syntax mapping often
include argument realization generalizations which treat each argument
of a verb individually (e.g., an agent is a subject). The course will
show that such generalizations are inadequate, for the syntactic
expression of one argument may depend on its coarguments (e.g., an
instrument cannot be a subject in the presence of an agent), and it will
investigate the implications of such interrelations among coarguments
for the design of theories of lexical semantic representation and
argument realization. The phenomena suggest the need for semantic
prominence relations among arguments, which then have implications for
the architecture of event structure and the nature of the event
structure-to-syntax mapping. The viability of various theories of the
semantic determinants of argument realization will be reassessed in this
context. The course will also explore instances of systematic
crosslinguistic variation in argument realization, and show that they
arise from interactions between the event structure-to-syntax mapping
and language-specific argument realization options. Illustrative case
studies will include the (in)transitivity of two-argument verbs; dative
verbs and the dative alternation; and psych-verbs, if time permits. The
course assumes some familiarity with lexical semantics and syntax.
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|Micro-variation in the left periphery
|Cecilia Poletto (Università diVenezia) and Raffaella Zanuttini (Georgetown University)
This course will discuss some aspects of the syntax of the left periphery of the clause, taking a detailed look at cross-linguistic differences found both in languages that are typologically different (like English and Korean) and in languages that are very similar (like Italian and some of the so-called Italian dialects). In particular, we will focus on imperative and interrogative clauses and show that micro-syntactic comparison can help us bring to light aspects of the structural representation of a clause that reflect key components of the meaning of the type to which the clause belongs.
The course will begin with a close look at the restrictions found on the subjects of imperative clauses. We will first argue that such restrictions are not purely semantic in nature but have a syntactic basis. Then we will show how the hypothesis that helps us makes sense of these restrictions can also help us understand the complex system of sentence final particles found in jussive clauses in Korean. Shifting our focus to Romance, we will then discuss the system of particles found in some of the northern Italian dialects and discuss their relation to the meaning components that characterize imperative clauses. Finally, we will turn our attention to interrogative clauses, discussing the syntactic variation found in the properties and the distribution of wh phrases of a few closely related Romance languages, which will shed light both on the complex left periphery of the clause and on the internal structure of wh-items. We will examine the system of particles, complementizers and clitic elements that contribute to distinguish several subtypes of interrogative clauses.
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|A prerequisite is a basic familiarity with the theoretical background; the Celtic data will be introduced in class.
|Maire Noonan (McGill University)
The goal of this course is to reconsider the analysis of VSO orders in the Celtic
languages as it emerged during the 1990s (see in particular McCloskey (1996), Roberts
(2005, Chapter One), several of the papers in Carnie & Guilfoyle (2000), Carnie, Harley &
Dooley (2005), and Borsley & Roberts (1996)) in the light of recent theoretical
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We will look at the following topics:
* the "standard" analysis of VSO
* remnant vP/VP - movement? VOS, V2 and VSO
* evidence for head movement
* the position of the finite verb
* the position of the subject
* the anti-agreement/complementarity effect
* A-bar constructions
* VSO/SVO alternations