April 29, 2020

New paper: Konnelly and Cowper (2020)

Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.) and Elizabeth Cowper (faculty) have a new paper in Glossa, 5(1): "Gender diversity and morphosyntax: An account of singular they."

As one of the primary means of constructing gendered identities, language is a matter of central concern to transgender people (Zimman 2018). In this paper, we present an analysis of non-binary singular they; that is, they as used to refer to individuals whose gender identity is not, or is not exclusively, masculine or feminine. Despite singular they’s widespread usage and long history in English, not all speakers judge this most recent innovation to be grammatical, even if they do not object to singular they in quantified, generic, or otherwise gender non-specific contexts, and even if they produce the latter sort of examples natively. We argue that resistance to this new use of they can, at least in part, be attributed to speakers’ level of participation in a grammatical change in progress. Further, we propose that this change can be categorized into three distinct stages, with they’s most recent broadening – that is, as a non-binary singular pronoun of reference – dovetailing with wider socio-cultural changes (as well as featural changes beyond the pronominal system) that underscore the difficulty in separating grammatical and social judgements. As we aim to show, linguists from all subdisciplines – both theoretical and applied – are especially well suited to leverage theoretical insights to advocate for trans-affirming language practice.

April 27, 2020

Research Groups: Week of April 27-May 1

Wednesday, April 29, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM, online
Syntax Group
Collective viewing and discussion, hosted by Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty), of GLOW talk by András Bárány (Leiden University): "A typological gap in ditransitive alignment: No secundative case/indirective agreement."

April 24, 2020

Congratulations, Majed!

Majed Al-Solami defended his doctoral dissertation, "Vowel elision, epenthesis, and metrical systems in Bedouin Arabic dialects", on Friday, April 24. The committee consisted of Keren Rice (supervisor), Elan Dresher, Yoonjung Kang, Alexei Kochetov, Abdel-Khalig Ali, and external examiner Stuart Davis (Indiana University). Congratulations, Dr. Al-Solami!

April 11, 2020

New paper: Milway (2020)

Dan Milway (Ph.D. 2019) has a new squib in the Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 65(1): "Modifying Spatial P: A remark on Svenonius (2010)."

April 8, 2020


Generative Linguistics in the Old World (GLOW) 43 is taking place online from April 8th through 20th; Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin is hosting the conference virtually this year. Note that there is no charge to watch any of the talks.

Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.) and Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) are giving a presentation:
"A syntactic repair to a clitic cluster restriction: The case of Laki split agreement."

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011, now at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) is presenting:
"ABA, DOM, and other accusatives."

April 4, 2020

New paper: Han, Kim, Moulton, and Lidz (2020)

Keir Moulton (faculty) and colleagues Chung-hye Han (Simon Fraser University), Kyeong-min Kim (Simon Fraser University), and Jeffrey Lidz (University of Maryland) are coauthors of a new paper in Linguistic Inquiry, 51(2): "Null objects in Korean: Experimental evidence for the argument ellipsis analysis."

Null object (NO) constructions in Korean and Japanese have received different accounts: as (a) argument ellipsis (Oku 1998, S. Kim 1999, Saito 2007, Sakamoto 2015), (b) VP-ellipsis after verb raising (Otani and Whitman 1991, Funakoshi 2016), or (c) instances of base-generated pro (Park 1997, Hoji 1998, 2003). We report results from two experiments supporting the argument ellipsis analysis for Korean. Experiment 1 builds on K.-M. Kim and Han’s (2016) finding of interspeaker variation in whether the pronoun ku can be bound by a quantifier. Results showed that a speaker’s acceptance of quantifier-bound ku positively correlates with acceptance of sloppy readings in NO sentences. We argue that an ellipsis account, in which the NO site contains internal structure hosting the pronoun, accounts for this correlation. Experiment 2, testing the recovery of adverbials in NO sentences, showed that only the object (not the adverb) can be recovered in the NO site, excluding the possibility of VP-ellipsis. Taken together, our findings suggest that NOs result from argument ellipsis in Korean.

April 3, 2020

New book: Massam (2020)

Congratulations to Diane Massam (faculty) on the publication of Niuean: Predicates and Arguments in an Isolating Language, newly available from Oxford University Press! This landmark book, which forms part of the 'Oxford Studies of Endangered Languages' series, represents the culmination of Diane and her consultants' and colleagues' 25 years of work on Niuean.

April 1, 2020

Research Groups: Friday, April 3

Note that this week's meeting of the Fieldwork Group is cancelled.

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, online
Psycholinguistics Group
Presentation by Breanna Pratley (MA).

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, online
Phonetics/Phonology Group
1. Lisa Sullivan (Ph.D.): "Gender-based sound symbolism in Korean given names."
2. Lisa Schlegl (Ph.D.): "Phonetic correlates of performative voicing."