June 20, 2015

Research Groups: Week of June 22-26

Wednesday, June 24 - 10 AM to 12 PM in SS 2111
Syntax/Semantics Group
Michelle Yuan (MA 2014, now at MIT): "Case and anti-identity in Yimas."

In this talk, I investigate the case and agreement system of Yimas, a Lower Sepik language of Papua New Guinea. I show that the agreement morphemes are doubled clitics, and that only these clitics—but crucially not their associated DPs—make morphological case distinctions. Moreover, the case patterns that surface support the dependent case system of Marantz (1991), in that case is calculated postsyntactically and on the basis of case competition. I argue that Yimas exhibits these unusual properties because of the case-invariance of their doubled arguments. Since doubled clitics are essentially copies of their associates (clearly seen in Yimas), doubling multiple arguments inevitably yields a sequence of clitics that are morphosyntactically identical; this creates a 'morphosyntactic OCP effect' that must be repaired by the grammar. In Yimas, the repair may be, but is not limited to, case marking the clitics; I show that there are additionally certain clitic combinations that require other dissimilatory processes (e.g. impoverishment) to apply instead. More broadly, this talk recasts morphological case as a tool that grammars use in the postsyntax in order to ensure anti-identity.

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