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Language Contact
Level:
Tonjes Veenstra

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.

Course Outline pdf icon

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The Germanic languages and the SOV/SVO difference
Level:
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 different frameworks.

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).

Background reading

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Variation in Athapaskan languages
Level:
Keren Rice

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.

Course Outline pdf icon

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Semantic Parameters
Level:
Malte Zimmermann

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 the following:

  • Quantifier Semantics: Universal quantification, wh-CONJ-quantifiers, Distance-Distributivity
  • Negation
  • 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.

Syllabus pdf icon

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Constants and variables in tonal varieties of German and Dutch
Level:
Carlos Gussenhoven

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 languages.

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
Level:
Heidi Harley

This course will consider recent proposals concerning the sources of morphological variation cross-linguistically, in both nominal and verbal domains.

Part 1:

In the nominal domain, we’ll look at pronominal inventories and the nature and structure of their featural makeup, as well as their interaction with syntactic operations. We’ll 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.

Part 2:

In the verbal domain, we’ll 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. 36: 441-455
Williams, Edwin. 1994. 'Remarks on lexical knowledge', Lingua 92, pp. 7-34.
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, ***, OUP.
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 Jelinek’s 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.
http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~ajohns/JohnsNI05.pdf
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.

Readings (Download)

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Tone and segmental structure
Level:
Marc van Oostendorp

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 theory, etc.)

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Areal linguistics and areal typology
Level:
Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm

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.

Syllabus pdf icon

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Language change and typology in Austronesian
Level:
Malcolm Ross

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 Pacific.

Most Austronesian languages were until recently unwritten, and I will give some attention to the methodological question of how we reconstruct their histories.

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 predecessor.

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 languages.

Syllabus pdf icon

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Formal Pragmatics
Level:
Maria Aloni and Robert van Rooij

Abstract:

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
  • presuppositions


Coursenotes: handed out for copying by the lecturers.

Schedule:

First week: introductory
1 Implicatures including scalar, I-implicatures, free choice implicatures (Grice, Gazdar, Levinson)
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 pdf icon

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Processing at the Syntax-Discourse Interface
Level:
Lyn Frazier

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.

References

Anderson, C. (2004) The structure and real time comprehension of quantifier scope ambiguity. Northwestern University doctoral dissertation.

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), 283-341.

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, Stanford:CSLI Publications.

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.

Syllabus pdf icon

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The structure and challenges of Tukang Besi (an Austronesian language from central Indonesia)
Level: intermediate
Mark Donohue

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.

Schedule:

rough, to follow.

Literature:

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.

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Prosody
Level: interm/advanced
Credits: 6
Caroline Fery

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 & Vogel’s 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.

Syllabus pdf icon

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Topics in language acquisition
Level: intermediate
Requirements: A good background in syntax is presupposed.
Maria Teresa Guasti

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 children’s 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. Children’s 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)

Syllabus pdf icon

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Introduction to Corpus Linguistics
Level: Introductory
Requirements: assuming a basic background in linguistics but not in corpus linguistics or computational linguistics
Anke Lüdeling

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.

  1. background: linguistic questions and corpus data

    1. different kinds of linguistic evidence: introspection, psycholinguistic and
      neurolinguistic experiments, field data etc.: where does corpus data fit in?
    2. qualitative methods
    3. quantitative methods

  2. collecting and pre-processing corpora

    1. corpus design
    2. tokenizing, tagging, lemmatizing, syntactic annotation, phonological annotation
    3. annotation models (flat annotation vs. standoff annotation)

  3. case studies and sample corpora

    1. morphological productivity ('general-purpose' corpora)
    2. second language acquisition (learner corpora)
    3. language change (historical corpora)
The lectures will be accompanied by exercises and mini-projects.

Syllabus pdf icon

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Syntactic change in Germanic
Level: interm/advanced
Credits: 6
Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of generative syntactic theory (Principles and Parameter, Minimalism).
Credits obtained on the basis of attendance and submission of a short paper.
Eric Haeberli

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:

  • Verb Second
  • V-to-I movement
  • Directionality (OV/VO; V-Aux/Aux-V)
  • Negation (the expression of sentential negation; negative concord)
  • Expletives
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).

Syllabus pdf icon

Reading List pdf icon

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Formal approaches to language change
Level: interm/advanced
Credits: 6
Thórhallur Eythórsson

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 Kroch’s 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 prerequisite.

Syllabus pdf icon

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Range and Limits of Syntactic Microvariation
Level: advanced
Sjef Barbiers, Hanns Bennis

This course addresses a number of issues that are central to current microsyntactic research, such as:

  1. What is the locus of syntactic variation?
  2. Is it possible to reduce all syntactic variation to lexical properties of functional heads?
  3. If PF is a locus of variation, what should a theory of spell-out options at PF look like?
  4. How do we account for syntactic doubling phenomena if doubling involves semantically superfluous material?
  5. What are the limits of syntactic variation, i.e. which syntactic properties are universal?
  6. 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?
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 doubling phenomena.

Day to day programme and background reading for the coursepdf icon
some articles (zip)

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Multilingualism: Focus on cross-linguistic influence
Level: intermediate
Credits: 6
credits - Power-point presentation
Natascha Müller

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).

Syllabus, Literature pdf icon

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Verb Semantics and Argument Realization
Level:
Beth Levin

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.

Syllabus pdf icon

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Micro-variation in the left periphery
Level: interm./advanced
Credits: 6
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.

Syllabuspdf icon

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Verb initial languages
Level:
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 developments.

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

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