Explaining Predicate Inversion with a Clause-Internal FocP

Specificational copular clauses, in one school of thought, are considered to be inverted predications from an underlying small clause (Moro 1997, Mikkelsen 2004, den Dikken 2006 etc). One aspect of specificational copualr clauses that is often neglected is the fact that such clauses have a unique information structure profile in requiring an obligatorily focused post-copular constituent. In this extended abstract, I argue that the reason for this does not lie in movement of the pre-copular phrase to a topic position (as argued by Mikkelsen 2004) but rather because of movment of the post-copular phrase to a clause internal FocP (a position argued for independently by Jayaseelan 1999 a.o). I p..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

The pragmatics of reversed-polarity questions in Máíhɨ̃ki (Western Tukanoan)

Overview: Reversed-polarity questions (Koshik 2002) are constructions that have the morphosyntactic form of questions, but are pragmatically interpreted as assertions of the opposite polarity (such as the English Isn't it raining?). These constructions are ubiquitous in Máíhɨ̃kì (Western Tukanoan, Peru; previously known as Orejón). Primary field data shows that, in this language, native speakers frequently interpret both negative (1) and positive (2) polar questions as declaratives of the opposite polarity.(1) ĩ́dàrì mánì dɨ́òhõ̀mààɨ̀.ĩ́ -dàrì mánì dɨ́ò -hõ̀ -mà -àɨ̀DEM -CL:place kill immerse.in.water -PERF -NEG -3SG.M.PST.INTERR"Here..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Order in the DP! On word order and the structure of the DP

Novel observations show Cinque’s (2005) phrasal movement proposal makes correct predictions on the grammaticality of word orders in Lebanese Arabic noun phrases. Adding an adjective yields grammatical orders Cinque (2005) cannot derive. We show that assuming an additional merge position—either for demonstratives or for numerals—derives the orders without losing Cinque’s typological predictions, and we present evidence favoring an additional numeral position.

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

How is contraction not possible here?

While how-questions typically elicit information about manner or instrument, English how‑questions have an additional, largely unnoticed interpretation: they can be used (often rhetorically) to express surprise that the proposition under ‘how’ holds at all (How is Chili's still open?) While these ‘propositional how-questions’ freely allow negation, they do not allow neg-contraction (?*How isn't Chili's open yet?). I propose that Neg-to-C raising is blocked because it would enable Neg to (undesirably) scope over a covert VERUM operator in C that contributes to the 'surprise at the true-status of p' reading.

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Rescuing Broken Dependency in Korean Fragments

◊ Korean FAs with/without their morphological markers can be captured by ellipsis approach.◊ The presence and absence of trouble makers encoded with offending *s determines the acceptability of FAs.◊ The proposed analysis extends to the variability of postposition-stranding and a certain asymmetry in   island-violating fragments. 

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

"Maybe" not all scalar implicatures are created equal

Most previous neurolinguistic experiments on scalar implicature have focused on the <some,all> scale. We examined the processing of the <maybe,definitely> scale using EEG and MEG. Participants read the word "maybe" in correct contexts, semantically incorrect contexts (where only "definitely not" would have been true), and pragmatically infelicitous contexts (where "definitely" was true). Both violations elicited N400 effects, the effects differed in a late time window (suggesting that the brain was sensitive to different types of meaning, semantic and pragmatic). These findings do not replicate EEG findings on <some,all>, suggesting that different types of scalar inferences..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

The prosody of negative ‘yeah’

Normally, yeah has positive polarity, but with a change in prosody, it can convey a negative stance (e.g., polite disagreement/rejection). This study examines acoustic-prosodic features of ‘negative yeahs’ in a stance-rich corpus of collaborative tasks. Four categories are identified based on degree of agreement/acceptance and distinguished by an interaction between pitch and intensity: while two groups have low, flat pitch, and two have high domed or dipping contours, this division is cross-cut by intensity, again low-flat vs. high domed. These patterns show that fine-grained stance analysis can reveal word-level acoustic patterns that are not apparent in coarser approaches.  

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Convergence through divergence: compensatory changes in phonetic accommodation

In phonetic accommodation, talkers talk differently based on their interlocutors' speech. This is generally convergence, but simultaneous convergence along incompatible dimensions is not always possible. In the current study, I found that when exposed to artificially extended VOT, speakers shortened their stop closures, in divergence from the model talker. I interpret these adjustments as compensatory changes resulting from individual learned patterns of articulation. Individual differences in the phonetic features adjusted in accommodation may reflect constraints on the potential pathways of sound change. Additionally, accommodation studies must take multiple dimensions of phonetic similari..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Serialization in Complex Predicates in MalakMalak

While complex verbs are well attested in Australian languages and elsewhere, in MalakMalak two systems of multi-verb constructions combine in a typologically rare setup: First, complex predicates consist of an uninflecting open-classed coverb and an inflecting verb (IV) of a closed class of six. Second, coverbs combine in serial constructions as part of a complex predicate with up to four coverbs encoding multiple or single events. This overlap provides a unique opportunity to examine shared and distinctive features. I argue for an analysis of MalakMalak’s complex predicates’ argument structure in terms of argument unification (Bowern 2010) of coverb and IV. 

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

A unified treatment of the exceptions to the Agent/ECM Correlation

Based on the contrast between the believe-class and the wager-class verbs, Pesetsky (1992) makes a generalization that agentive verbs do not allow ECM (the Agent/ECM Correlation). However, he notes two classes of exceptions to the generalization. I argue that the two classes of exceptions can be uniformly treated as causatives and that the Agent/ECM Correlation can be seen as an instance of the broader l-syntax finding that “not all internal arguments are created equal”–with agentive activity verbs the root selects an internal argument, but not with change-of-state verbs (Basilico 1998, Hale and Keyser 2002, Alexiadou and Schäfer 2011, Cuervo 2014).  

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Semantic Bleaching and the Emergence of New Pronouns in AAVE

AAVE is developing new pronouns, facilitated by the semantic bleaching of the word ‘nigga.’ We show ‘nigga’ is not specified for race, gender, or humanness (although default is [+human] and [+male]). Using 20,000 tweets and field notes from NYC and Philadelphia, we demonstrate that there are new first person pronouns in AAVE based on ‘nigga’ (e.g. 1sg “a nigga”) – moreover, we demonstrate they pattern with true pronouns and not imposters (Collins & Postal, 2010) with respect to binding and verbal agreement. We discuss the origin of these new pronouns, related grammatical forms (including vocatives and honorifics), and rate of adoption and current rates of use.

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Boundedness of verbal and adjectival predicates in Mandarin

This study extends the boundedness account for ba-construction in Mandarin to transitive comparatives and hypothesizes that the selection in ba-construction and transitive comparatives constrained by boundedness, where boundedness can be manifested in terms of telicity of VPs, quantization of internal arguments or measure phrases.This generalized account shows how formal semantic properties affect syntactic selection and explains some sentences that existing accounts do not. Also, the proposal implicates a homomorphic syntax-semantics mapping across V and A categories, which is superior than category-specific theories.

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Evidence of Language Contact: Source Prepositional Phrases in Taiwanese Southern Min

Evidence of Language Contact: Data from source Prepositional Phrases in Taiwanese Southern Min      This paper presents a new corpus-based study on the distributional pattern of source Prepositional Phrases (source PPs) in Taiwanese Southern Min (TSM), as evidence of contact with Austronesian languages. Literature on language contact suggests that while contact-induced changes affect the less powerful/prestigious language, effects also occur in the inverse direction due to imperfect second language acquisition (LaPolla 2001, Chappell 2006). Due to its geographical proximity to the Austronesian language territory, Taiwan serves as a linguistic laboratory for studying language contact. Unl..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Hedging arguments

Hedges such as loosely speaking and sorta indicate a mismatch between what issaid and what is actually meant. As demonstrated by the example in (1), sorta is often used whena speaker doesn’t know a more appropriate word or phrase at the time of utterance (Anderson2014).(1) I was running on concrete and accidentally sorta kicked the ground – that is to say, I didn’treally kick the ground, but it was like kicking the ground. (Anderson 2014:02, ex.2)In this study, we investigated the readings that arise from sorta-hedging. We present resultsindicating the possibility of hedging objects, verbs, and whole sentences, and we show that verbtype, definiteness of the object, and stress on sorta ..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Testing accessibility: A cross-linguistic comparison of the syntax of referring expressions

Focusing on the discourse conditions that license the use of null subjects (pro) in Greek and Italian, this paper shows that the distribution of referring expressions (RE, e.g., overt and null pronoun, clitic, definite description, etc.) does not only depend on the referents’ discourse status (alias accessibility). Syntactic constraints play an important role too.

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Split Number in Nungon

‘Mixed’ or ‘top and second’ number systems (Dixon 2012:52, Corbett 2000:120-121), in which different number systems occur in different parts of a language’s grammar, are not unusual in Papuan languages. The Animacy Hierarchy (Corbett 2000:56; Smith‑Stark 1974) dictates that if a grammar involves more than one number system, the system that includes more number distinctions should function higher on the hierarchy (Corbett 2000:121). Papuan languages of the Finisterre branch of the Finisterre-Huon language group (Madang and Morobe Provinces, Papua New Guinea) are unusual in that number system splits may be found, not only along the Animacy Hierarchy, but between different sets of p..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Forceful Contact in a Result Prominent Language

Levin and Rappaport Hovav (1995) remind us that manner and result verbs often exhibit complementary distribution within a given language. They also note that when a main verb lexically specifies manner or result, the complementary component can be expressed outside the verb, in a satellite constituent of some sort. In Rappaport Hovav and Levin (2010), manner/result complementarity constrains verb root lexicalization. Building on this, Erteschik-Shir and Rapoport (2010) examine English verbs of contact, e.g. smear, splash, whose complements specify a result relation between moveable object and stationary locatum. Classically, these verbs show a locative alternation with holistic ~ partitive i..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

A Topic Time coreference analysis of tense ‘harmony’ in pseudoclefts

This paper offers a new analysis of so-called tense ‘harmony’ in specificational pseudoclefts (Higgins 1979; Sharvit 2003; Romero 2004). I take a referential approach to tense, where tenses relate two time pronominals: Topic Time (TT, Klein 1994) and Reference Time (RT) (Utterance Time, UT, in main clauses). Although binding between either UT or matrix Event Time (ET) and embedded RT derives the interpretations of most embedded tenses, binding cannot fully account for embedded tenses in specificational pseudoclefts.I propose that Topic Time coreference derives puzzling restrictions on embedded tenses in pseudoclefts in languages both with and without sequence of tenses (SOT). 

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

P600 Dominance Predicts Comprehension of Garden-Path Sentences

1. Introduction.  Research using the event-related potential (ERP) technique has provided many important insights into the neural mechanisms associated with language comprehension. The integration of lexico-semantic information is associated with an increased centro-parietal negativity between 300-500 ms known as the N400 (Kutas & Federmeier, 2011; Kutas & Hillyard 1980). Morphosyntactic integration is associated with an early left anterior negativity (LAN) maximal around 200-500 ms, followed by a late posterior positivity (P600) maximal between 500 and 800 ms (see Kutas, Van Petten & Kluender (2005) for review). The P600, in absence of early negativity, is also elicited by well..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Swedish relative clauses as weak islands

Some recent accounts of relative clause extraction (RCE) in Swedish assume that clauses that allow extraction do not themselves involve A-bar dependencies, and that RCE is possible only from subject relatives (e.g. Kush et al. 2013). I present evidence that Swedish allows A-bar movement from non-subject RCs as well. But not just any type of phrase can be extracted. For example, certain non-argument wh-phrases cannot move out. This means that Swedish RCs are weak, rather than strong islands (cf. Szabolcsi 2006). Szabolcsi takes an algebraic approach to weak islands where phrases that denote individuals, which can be collected into sets forming Boolean algebras, can be extracted, whereas phr..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Nasalization as a Repair for Voiced Obstruent Codas in Noon

The Senegalese language Noon exhibits a pattern by which the voiced stop phonemes /b, d, ɟ, g/ surface as nasals [m, n ɲ, ŋ] in coda position, undergoing complete neutralization with /m, n, ɲ, ŋ/. This allophonic alternation can be seen as a repair to the cross-linguistic constraint against voiced obstruents in coda position. However, the only otherwise attested repair to this marked structure is devoicing. Why should devoicing be so overwhelmingly preferred to other logical alternatives such as nasalization or gliding? Steriade (2008) answers this question with reference to her P-Map hypothesis, arguing that a [b~p] alternation is preferred because the perceptual distance between these..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Ideophone-gesture composites: depictive type, sendory class, and modality

Our paper seeks to clarify the interrelations between ideophones and gestures in the Pastaza dialect of Ecuadorian Quichua. We argue that in some instances there is a very straightforward semantic relationship between ideophones and gestures, especially when they depict visually observable motion. In other instances, it’s necessary to consider not only the interrelations between ideophones and gestures, but between ideophones, verbs and gestures, because the ideophone and its gesture are specifying the manner of a verb’s motion, or an image of the verb’s action as ongoing, or accomplished and complete. Gestures, therefore, not only illustrate ideophones’ meanings, but also tie those ..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

The Linguistic Status of Predictions and Feature Ranks from SVM Text Classifiers

Text classification systems are capable of predicting certain characteristics of a text’s author (e.g., gender and age) using only linguistic properties. This paper asks why such predictions are possible and how they can be interpreted. There are three factors: (1) the nature of the features used by the system; (2) the robustness of the predictions across time and genres; (3) the amount of data required for training and testing. Some classification predictions (e.g., gender) are based on non-content linguistic material that generalizes across time and genre. These classifications are characterized by stable performance and feature ranks, and permit linguistic interpretation.

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Adjective Agreement in Noon: Evidence for a Split Theory of Noun-Modifier Concord

I have uploaded my abstract as a pdf.

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Word and syllable constraints in Indonesian adaptation: OT analysis

Using original data of syllabic adaptations of borrowed words produced by 24 native speakers of Indonesian, we find both deletion and epenthesis to resolve word-final clusters, while word-initial clusters sometimes have epenthesis and sometimes are tolerated intact.  We show that the adaptations of Arabic and Dutch loanwords obey an Indonesian limit on complex codas, and furthermore reveal two subtle constraints: bisyllabic minimal word size and falling sonority across syllable boundaries. By showing that distinct adaptations are conditioned by the same markedness constraints, the OT analysis corroborates a view of borrowing as a phonological, rather than purely phonetic, process.

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

Syntactic categories informing variationist analysis: The case of English copy-raising

This paper re-examines variation between the comparative complementizers (AS IF, AS THOUGH, LIKE, THAT, and Ø) that follow verbs denoting ostensibility (SEEM, APPEAR, LOOK, SOUND, and FEEL) in the large city of Toronto, Canada. Given that younger speakers appear to be using more of these structures in the first place, I evaluate the hypothesis that there is a trade-off in apparent time between these finite structures and the non-finite construction of Subject-to-Subject raising. Focusing on the verb SEEM, I find that the non-finite structures are losing ground in apparent time to the finite ones. I subsequently address the issue of how best to divide up the finite tokens as co-variants oppo..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

The spread of the High toned /il/ in Seoul Korean: from ‘one’ to other meanings

Seoul Korean is known to show a LH-LH phrasal tonal pattern in an Accentual Phrase (AP), unless an AP-initial consonant is tensed or aspirated (Jun 1993, 2000). Since an AP shows LHLH unless the phrase-initial segment is tensed or aspirated, a vowel-initial AP is expected to show LHLH. However, Jun & Cha (2011) report that an AP-initial /il/ is sometimes produced with a H tone. Their study finds that i) younger speakers aged less than the mid 40s are more likely to produce /il/ with a H tone; ii) out of three meanings of /il/, ‘one (1)’, ‘day’, and ‘work’, /il/ meaning ‘one’ is most frequently produced with a H tone; iii) the High toned /il/ seems to be a unique feature..

LSA Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts