July 12, 2020

MOTH 2020

We are hosting this year's Montréal-Ottawa-Toronto-Hamilton (MOTH) Syntax Workshop, being held online on July 17-18. There is no fee, but please note that anyone interested in participating will need to register to be given access to the Zoom meetings.

Interspersed with colleagues we are (virtually) welcoming from Ontario, Québec, and the world, presenters associated with our department are:

Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.):
"Oblique subject agreement in Persian: Evidence from psych predicates."

Samuel Jambrović (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese):
"A cross-linguistic analysis of DOM with animate indefinite quantifiers."

Gregory Antono (MA):
"You think what we saying ah?: The ah particle in Colloquial Singapore English."

Crystal Chow (MA):
"How the hell do you say it: An analysis of wh-the-hell constructions in English versus Mandarin Chinese."

Nadia Takhtaganova (MA):
"Les titres de civilité en français: Pour une analyse minimaliste du syntagme de déterminant."

Connie Ting (MA 2018, now at McGill University):
"Capturing 'exempt' anaphors with local binding."

July 11, 2020

LabPhon 17

The 17th biennial conference of the Association for Laboratory Phonology was held online from July 6 through 8, hosted by the University of British Columbia.

Keren Rice (faculty) gave an invited talk:
"Languages on the margins: Sounds and the impact of sound-based research for language (re)vitalization."

Elizabeth Johnson (faculty) also gave an invited talk:
"Building a lexicon (on the margins)."

Angelika Kiss (Ph.D.) was part of a talk with colleagues Maxime Tulling (New York University) and Roger Yu-Hsiang Lo (University of British Columbia):
"Individual variation in the prosody of Cantonese rhetorical questions."

Posters that involved current and former departmental members included:

Laura Colantoni (faculty), Alexei Kochetov (faculty), and Jeffrey Steele (faculty, Department of French):
"EPG insights into first-language influence on second language gestural timing."

Philip Monahan (faculty), Rachel Soo (MA 2018, now at the University of British Columbia), Monica Shah (BA 2017) and Abdulwahab Sidiqi (BA 2017):
"Lexical bias in second language sibilant perception: The role of language proficiency and phonotactic context."

Madeleine Yu (BA) and Elizabeth Johnson (faculty):
"Re-evaluating the Other Accent Effect in talker recognition."

Jessamyn Schertz (faculty):
"Imitation and perception of individual accented features."

Avery Ozburn (faculty) with Gunnar Hansson (University of British Columbia) and Kevin McMullin (University of Ottawa):
"Learning vowel harmony with transparency in an artificial language."

Zoe McKenzie (Ph.D.):
"The perceptual basis of length co-occurrence restrictions."

Andrei Munteanu (Ph.D.):
"Using chess metrics to measure the effect of emotion on formants."

Phil Howson (Ph.D. 2018, now at the University of Oregon) and Melissa Redford (University of Oregon):
"Context effects on schwa production in 'gotta' distinguish 'got to' from 'got a'.

Phil Howson (Ph.D. 2018, now at the University of Oregon) and Madathodiyil Irfana (All India Institute of Speech and Hearing):
"What does cross-linguistic perception tell us about phonological categories?"

Richard Compton (Ph.D. 2012, now at l'Université du Québec à Montréal) with Emily Elfner (York University) and Anja Arnhold (University of Alberta):
"Stressless languages on the margins? An acoustic study of Inuktitut."

Rachel Soo (MA 2018, now at the University of British Columbia) and Molly Babel (University of British Columbia):
"Lexical competition affects Cantonese tone mergers in word recognition."

Gloria Mellesmoen (MA 2016, now at the University of British Columbia):
"Modularity and the allophone in the Comox-Sliammon (Salish) vowel system."

July 6, 2020

Research Groups: Week of July 6-10

Wednesday, July 6, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM, online
Syntax Group
Songül Gündoğdu (postdoc), Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty), and Andrew Peters (Ph.D.): "Doubled ezafe in Zazak."

July 3, 2020

New paper: Milway (2020)

Daniel Milway (Ph.D. 2019) has a new paper in the Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 65(2): "The contrastive topic requirement on specificational subjects."

This paper offers a discourse-pragmatic account of the constraint on indefinite DPs as subjects of specificational copular clauses (a doctor is Mary). Building on Mikkelsen's (2004) proposal that specificational subjects are topics, I argue that they must be contrastive topics which properly contain F-marked constituents. I show that this can account for the absolute ban on simple indefinite subjects, and allow for more complex indefinites to be subjects. Finally, I discuss the syntactic analysis that would be predicted given my pragmatic analysis, and the puzzles that arise from it.

July 2, 2020

Sali at ABRALIN (online)

Sali A. Tagliamonte (faculty) is giving a talk as part of the lecture series Abralin ao Vivo – Linguists Online, which is hosted by Abralin (the Brazilian Linguistics Association) and supported by a number of other linguistics organizations. Her talk, "What's sociolinguistics good for?", will be taking place at 1:00 PM Eastern time (i.e. 2:00 PM in eastern Brazil) on Friday, July 3 and can be viewed here. There is no need to register and no cost.

June 30, 2020


The 50th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages, hosted by the University of Texas at Austin, is taking place online from July 1 through 8, with 2.5 hours of content via Zoom every day. Note that registration is free!

We have several alumni involved:

Bethany MacLeod (Ph.D. 2012, now at Carleton University): 
"Phonetic convergence in Mexican Spanish: Combining acoustic and perceptual assessments."

Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2012, now at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia):
"DOM and the PCC: How many types?"

Laura Colantoni (faculty), Ruth Martínez (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese), Natalia Mazzaro (Ph.D. 2011, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, now at the University of Texas at El Paso), Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux (faculty), and Natalia Rinaldi (Ph.D., Spanish and Portuguese):
"Gender marking under disguise: Phonetics and grammar in Spanish-English bilinguals."

Former visiting professor Anne-José Villeneuve (University of Alberta) and Julie Auger (Université de Montréal):
"Assessing change in a Gallo-Romance regional minority language: First plural verbal morphology and semantic reference in Picard."

June 15, 2020

Research Groups: Week of June 15-19

Wednesday, June 17, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM, online
Syntax Group
Bronwyn Bjorkman (former postdoc, now at Queen's University): "Linearizing as best you can."

This talk looks at interactions among linearization, prosody, and vocabulary insertion, focusing on cases of verb doubling that appear to be motivated not by syntactic movement, but by the need for an otherwise-unsupported clitic to have a host.

Drawing on examples of verb doubling in Ingush (Nakh-Dagestanian) and Breton (Celtic), I argue first that the linearization of syntactic structures is accomplished via the interaction of ranked and violable constraints, as in OT, rather than via a deterministic linearization algorithm of the type often assumed in syntax. Second, I argue that linearization and prosodification proceed in parallel, allowing verb doubling as a trade-off between prosodic well-formedness (the need of a clitic for a host) and optimal linearization - but that this evaluation occurs prior to both Vocabulary Insertion and the subsequent competition of segmental phonology.

The final sections of the talk discuss the implications of this model for doubling more generally, and more particularly for our ability to explain the fact that certain movement configurations appear to lead to doubling in some languages but not in others. I discuss verb doubling in predicate focus, clitic doubling, and several other instances of apparent multiple realization.

June 8, 2020

Research Groups: Week of June 8-12

Wednesday, June 10, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM, online
Syntax Group
Paul Poirier (MA): "The spellout of the Japanese copula: Considerations from nominalization."

June 5, 2020

Department of Linguistics statement regarding current events

On behalf of the faculty of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto, Nathan Sanders offers this message to the members of our linguistics community:

We are outraged and saddened by the continuing racist violence and abuses of power against racialized groups in the United States, Canada, and throughout the world, especially the long history of police brutality against Black people and Black communities that has once again gained worldwide attention. The faculty of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto declare our explicit support for the Black Lives Matter movement and other networks that are working to end unjust power structures and the racism that drives them.

We believe it is also important to recognize our department's shortcomings on these issues and the need to redress them. The small number of Black scholars and students in the field of linguistics is a pervasive problem, and we acknowledge that we can do better with Black representation in our department and with fighting anti-Black racism more broadly. We have taken small steps, such as ongoing changes to our curriculum and applying for institutional opportunities such as the Provost Postdoctoral Fellowship for Black and Indigenous scholars, but there is much more uncomfortable work we need to do. As we make plans to put that work into action, we welcome voices from our community and beyond about how we as a department can best enact positive change.

Please consider joining some of the upcoming events sponsored by the Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office to help further much needed discussion and action: https://antiracism.utoronto.ca/reflect-restore-action/

For more information and resources on the important role of linguistics in racial justice, see the following statement from the Linguistic Society of America: https://www.linguisticsociety.org/news/2020/06/03/lsa-issues-statement-racial-justice

June 3, 2020

Congratulations, Erin!

Congratulations to Erin Hall (Ph.D.), who has accepted a tenure-track position in linguistics and speech pathology at California State University, San Bernardino! We will miss Erin and her vibrant, positive presence, but are thrilled for her and CSUSB!

June 2, 2020

Research Groups: Week of June 1-5

Friday, June 5, 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM, online
Language Variation and Change Group
Casual meeting: check-in about what everyone's been up to.

June 1, 2020

Applications now open for LIN398 in 2020-21

Suzi Lima (faculty) is leading a year-long Research Opportunity Program course (LIN398) over the course of the 2020-21 academic year on the topic of 'Internationalized learning at home: Investigating African languages spoken in Toronto'.

Statistics Canada (2019) reports that the Black population is steadily growing in Canada. In Toronto, this population has doubled in the last 20 years. In this population, 56% are first-generation (born outside Canada) and 35% are second-generation (born in Canada but at least one parent was born abroad). Statistics Canada (2019) also reports that the number of immigrants from Africa has increased significantly, making up about 65% of the population of Black immigrants (as opposed to 27.3% of immigrants from the Caribbean and Bermuda). At the University of Toronto the population of undergraduate students from Africa corresponded (in 2017) to 2.6% (415 students) of the international student population (Liang 2017). The official records of the University of Toronto (Liang 2017) also report that Nigeria is the 9th most common country of origin for international students. In this project, our goal is to describe some semantic aspects of African languages while engaging the first- and second-generation communities of speakers of these languages. The goals of this project will advance the description of African languages spoken in Toronto and promote the visibility of these languages and communities of speakers on campus.

Application instructions can be found here. Note that interested undergraduate students are highly encouraged to submit by Friday, June 12, as review of applications will begin very shortly thereafter.

May 27, 2020

CLA-ACL 2020

The annual meeting of the Canadian Linguistic Association/Association canadienne de linguistique normally occurs in conjunction with the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. This year's Congress has been cancelled owing to current events. However, CLA-ACL will be held online from May 30 through June 1. Digital attendance is free.

Presentations from scholars who are associated with our department are:

Nathan Sanders (faculty), Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.), and Lex Konnelly (Ph.D.):
"Methods for increasing equity, diversity, and inclusion in linguistics pedagogy."

Peter Jurgec (faculty):
"Online interactive tools for undergraduate phonology."

Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty) and Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.) with Mansour Shabani (University of Guilan):
"The two faces of a nominal linker: Another look at reverse ezafe in Gilaki."

Cristina Cuervo (faculty) and Alexander Tough (MA, Department of Spanish and Portuguese):
"Not aspect, but tense: A morphological argument for the old analysis of the Spanish imperfect."

Sahar Taghipour (Ph.D.) and Philip Monahan (faculty):
"Paradigmatic gaps impact early morphological decomposition: Evidence from masked priming."

Koorosh Ariyaee (Ph.D.) and Peter Jurgec (faculty):
"Persian elides the second vowel."

Diane Massam (faculty) and Ileana Paul (University of Western Ontario):
"Instructions for nullness."

Michelle Troberg (faculty) and Justin Leung (BA):
"On the uniform loss of Medieval French verb particles."

Julien Carrier (Ph.D.):
"From ergative to accusative in North Baffin Inuktitut."

Jean-François Juneau (Ph.D.) with Gavin Bembridge (York University):
"Root alternations for discourse effects: A challenge for locality?"

Gregory Antono (MA):
"Expressing a multiplicity of events in Macuxi."

Nadia Takhtaganova (MA):
"Les titres de civilité : De l’ancien français jusqu’au français moderne>"

Rosalind Owen (BA):
"Sweet songs and soft hearts: Metaphor in Cuzco Quechua."

Alia Alatassi (Ph.D., Department of French), and Mihaela Pirvulescu (faculty):
"The acquisition of French object clitics by L2 children: Effects of age of onset."

Olga Tararova (Ph.D. 2018, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, now at the University of Western Ontario) with Martha Black (University of Western Ontario):
"Adult acquisition of grammatical gender in instructed L2 Spanish and the role of metacognition."

David Heap (Ph.D. 1997, now at the University of Western Ontario) with Yarubi Diaz Colmenares (University of Western Ontario):
"Variation et changement dans les accords du français inclusif."

Andrew McCandless (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese):
"The influence of phonetic training on production of Spanish rhotics in beginner L2 learners with L1 Canadian English."

Former visiting student Sander Nederveen (Simon Fraser University):
"Discourse novelty, givenness, and EV2 in German."

Posters include those of:

Alana Johns (faculty) and Elan Dresher (faculty):
"Morpheme structure change in Labrador Inuttut."

Elan Dresher (faculty), Daniel Currie Hall (Ph.D. 2007, now at St. Mary's University) and Sara Mackenzie (Ph.D. 2009, now at Memorial University of Newfoundland):
"The status of phoneme inventories: The role of contrastive feature hierarchies."

Songül Gündogdu (postdoc), Arsalan Kahnemuyipour (faculty), and Andrew Peters (Ph.D.):
"Revisiting 'doubled' ezafe in Southern Zazaki."

Mihaela Pirvulescu (faculty) and Elena Valenzuela (University of Ottawa) have a poster:
"Genericity in the grammars of Romanian, French, and English trilinguals."

Elizabeth Johnson (faculty) with Tania Zamuner (University of Ottawa), Amélie Bernard (McGill University), and Félix Desmeules-Trudel (University of Western Ontario):
"The timecourse of toddlers' recognition for native-accented versus non-native-accented speech."

Crystal Chow (MA):
"Expressing paths of motion in Apurimac Quechua."

Samuel Jambrović (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese):
"Regular and irregular inflexion of derived proper nouns: A syntactico-semantic model."

Daniel Milway (Ph.D. 2019):
"The puzzle of irrelevant assertions in alternative semantics."

Michael Iannozzi (BA 2014, now at the University of Western Ontario):
"Variable realization of /v/ as [v] or [w] in a heritage Italian variety."

May 26, 2020

Research Groups: Week of May 25-29

Wednesday, May 27, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM, online
Syntax Group
Practice talk for CLA: Cristina Cuervo (faculty) and Alex Tough (MA, Department of Spanish and Portuguese): "Not aspect, but tense: A morphological argument for the old analysis of the Spanish imperfect."

The Spanish imperfect past was analyzed by grammarian Andrés Bello (1841) as a relative tense, denoting simultaneity of the event or situation with a reference point prior to the utterance time (Juan cantaba el himno/'Juan sang the hymn'). Simply put, the imperfect was analyzed as the present of the past, and aptly named co-preterite. Thus, for Bello, the imperfect contrasted with the simple past or preterite on the temporal dimension, the preterite being an absolute tense encoding direct reference to a time before the utterance time.

The 20th century saw a new analysis of the imperfect-preterite contrast not as a contrast in tense, but a contrast in grammatical aspect (perfective-imperfective), an analysis that became standard in descriptive, theoretical and experimental works alike. More recently, a small number of works have opposed the aspectual analysis from various perspectives (Rojo and Veiga 1999; Cowper 2003, 2005; Soto 2014; Markle LaMontagne and Cuervo 2015), whose arguments we review.

We develop an analysis of the imperfect past in Spanish which reconciles the view of the imperfect as a complex tense expressing two temporal relations—the present of the past—with recent developments in the morphological analysis of simple verbal forms as consisting of a hierarchical structure containing a root and a series of functional heads (as in Distributive Morphology, Hale and Marantz 1993). In particular, we follow Arregi's (2000) and Oltra-Massuet and Arregi’s (2005) analysis of Spanish verbal inflection as the expression of various syntactic heads (e.g., v, Tense, (person & number) Agreement), with a theme vowel position added in the Morphological Component to each functional head.

We propose that simple forms in the Spanish verbal paradigm can hide complex temporal reference and structure (one or two heads expressing a relation of anteriority, posteriority or simultaneity). In parallel to Oltra-Massuet and Arregi’s analysis of the conditional as comprising two temporal nodes, future and past, we propose that the imperfect consists of a present node, a past node, and an agreement node.

In this analysis, present tense is null (or Pres is deleted in the Morphological Component), and the b-a/ø-a morpheme is the spell-out of the (Past) Tense head and its theme vowel. The extra structure in the imperfect is responsible for the fact that the imperfect is longer than the preterite (cant-á-ba-mos; com-í-a-mos vs. cant-a-mos, com-i-mos 'we sang'; 'we ate'), and that in the preterite, the past and agreement morphemes are fused, facts that were left unaccounted for in previous morphological analyses, including Oltra-Massuet and Arregi’s approach.

May 25, 2020

Symposium on Jackman Scholars-in-Residence project

For this year's Jackman Scholars-in-Residence program, Barend Beekhuizen (faculty) has guided a group of outstanding undergraduates - Mah Noor Amir, Maya Blumenthal, Li Jiang, Anna Pyrtchenkov, and Jana Savevska - on an intense 4-week computational project examining cross-linguistic variation in the translations of words such as true, real, actual, and right in a sample of languages (Urdu, Hindi, Hebrew, German, Mandarin, Greek, Russian, Spanish, Macedonian, and Bulgarian). At the conclusion of the project, the students will be presenting their findings on Thursday, May 28, at 11 AM to 12 PM, online. See the email for the Zoom link and come hear about what this powerhouse team of emerging researchers has been up to!

May 18, 2020

Research Groups: Week of May 18-22

Wednesday, May 20, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM, online
Syntax Group
Two practice talks for CLA-ACL 2020:

Samuel Jambrovic (Ph.D., Department of Spanish and Portuguese): "The morphosyntactic behavior of derived proper nouns: A DM account."
Nadia Takhtaganova (MA): "Les titres de civilité : Old French to Modern French honorifics."

May 16, 2020

Congratulations, Suzi!

Congratulations to Suzi Lima (faculty), who has been named this year's recipient of the new Early Career Researcher Award from the Canadian Linguistic Association! Their released statement describes Suzi's accomplishments as follows:

Dr. Suzi Lima is an early career researcher who has contributed substantially to language research, demonstrated innovation in research and dissemination, and engaged in practice and policy development in the broader community. Her theoretical focus is the pragmatics and semantics of number and quantity, and she has made contributions to formal semantics, typology, language acquisition, psychology, language documentation and revitalization, and the study of indigenous languages. She has held several research grants and has presented her work at the world's top conferences. She has published many peer-reviewed research works, and has also prepared, with the indigenous communities, a dictionary of verbs (Yudja) and a co-authored pedagogical grammar (Kawaiwete), to be published. She is also in demand as an invited speaker and as an innovative teacher and mentor. Dr. Lima holds a BA and MA from the University of São Paulo (Brazil), and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts. Since her 2014 graduation she has held a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, and Assistant Professorships at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, and in the Departments of Linguistics, and Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Toronto. In 2019, she began her current position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto. Dr. Lima's research focuses on pragmatics, semantics, typology, language acquisition, and documentation and revitalization. She engages in experimental fieldwork, with a focus on indigenous languages of Brazil, most prominently on Yudja and Kawaiwete. In her dissertation and much of her following work, Dr. Lima has developed ingenious protocols for uncovering the mechanisms by which languages count and measure things and substances, making novel contributions to the semantics and typology of number and quantity. Her work is also innovative in investigating the acquisition of these concepts in under-studied languages, through the study of monolingual and bilingual speakers of indigenous languages and Brazilian Portuguese. She has also collaboratively investigated questions of general cognition, such as how mathematical reasoning relates to cultural practice. Dr. Lima has also been exemplary in the ways she has shared her research with academic and non-academic communities. For example, her collaborative work has resulted in a questionnaire which is a masterpiece in elicitation and experimental design, targeting detailed semantic properties by using methods such as translation, production, comprehension tasks, storyboards, and videos. This questionnaire was applied by specialists who presented their results at a 2017 workshop, now in press as a special volume of Linguistic Variation. One reading book (Kawaiwete songs) was published in 2015 by the Museu do Índio. This ambitious project (coorganized with Susan Rothstein) involved both under-represented scholars and languages, demonstrating Dr. Lima's qualities of leadership. Dr. Lima also reaches out to communities and activists in her work twice funded by United Nations/National Indian Foundation/Indian Museum in Brazil, to document the Kawaiwete language. This work has involved educational workshops for teachers and collaborations with community leaders and researchers, and has resulted in the production of educational materials such as a pedagogical grammar and a dictionary draft. Dr. Lima has also collaborated in creating a database featuring resources for documentation and methods for fieldworkers. Dr. Lima is also an inspiring teacher and mentor, demonstrated in particular by her research excursion program courses where she takes undergraduate students to Brazil for hands-on documentation and fieldwork experience. In summary, Suzi Lima is an extraordinary early career researcher who has already achieved distinction in a range of areas, including theoretical, experimental, and documentation linguistics, while also demonstrating innovation in teaching and community outreach. The Canadian Linguistic Association is delighted to recognize her achievements by awarding Dr. Suzi Lima our inaugural Early Career Researcher Award in 2020.

May 15, 2020

TWPL 42 released

The 42nd volume of Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics (TWPL 42) is now available. It collects a range of recent work in sociolinguistics and language contact, including Faetar, Cree, Farsi, and English. Contributors to this volume come from multiple institutions but include current faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates. Thanks to all those who contributed - and to editor Pocholo Umbal (Ph.D.) and his team.

May 14, 2020

Two new papers: Elango, Coutinho, and Lima (2020); Lima (2020)

The editors of Language Documentation and Conservation have released their 20th special publication, 'Collaborative approaches to the challenges of language documentation and conservation', based on the 2018 Symposium on American Indian languages (SAIL).

Incoming MA student Vidhya Elango (BA 2019), Isabella Coutinho (State University of Roraima), and Suzi Lima (faculty) are the authors of "A language vitality survey of Macuxi, Wapichana and English in Serra da Lua, Roraima (Brazil)."

Serra da Lua is a multilingual region in the state of Roraima (Brazil) where Macuxi (Carib), Wapichana (Arawak), Brazilian Portuguese and Guyanese English are all spoken. Based on a self-reported language survey, we present an assessment of the vitality of the languages spoken in this region and the attitudes of the speakers towards these languages. While previous literature has reported the existence of English speakers in this region, the literature does not provide more details about domains of use or the attitudes towards the English language in contrast with Portuguese and the Indigenous languages. This paper helps to address this gap. In sum, the goals of this paper are twofold: first, in light of the results of the survey, to discuss the vitality of the Macuxi and Wapichana languages in the Serra da Lua communities according to the criteria set out by UNESCO’s 'Nine Factors' for assessing language vitality; and second, to provide insight about the use of English in this region.

Suzi also has a solo paper: "The Kawaiwete pedagogical grammar: Linguistic theory, collaborative language documentation, and the production of pedagogical materials."

This paper describes the intersection between linguistic theory and collaborative language documentation as a fundamental step in developing pedagogical materials for Indigenous communities. More specifically, we discuss the process of writing a mono-lingual pedagogical grammar of the Kawaiwete language (a Brazilian Indigenous language). This material was intended to motivate L1 speakers of Kawaiwete to think about language as researchers: by exploring linguistic datasets through the production and revision of hypotheses, testing predictions empirically and assessing the consistency of hypotheses through logical reasoning. By means of linguistic workshops in Kawaiwete communities, linguistic training of Indigenous researchers and production of pedagogical materials, we intended to motivate younger generations of Kawaiwete speakers to become researchers of their own language.

May 10, 2020

Research Groups: Week of May 11-15

Wednesday, May 13, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM, online
Syntax Group
Guest speaker: Monica Irimia (Ph.D. 2011, now at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia): "Oblique DOM in enriched case hierarchies."

In a cross-linguistically robust type of differential object marking (DOM), specifications at the higher end of animacy/referentiality scales are signalled via oblique morphology (Bossong 1991, 1998, Masica 1993, Torrego 1998, Lazard 2001, López 2012, Manzini and Franco 2016, 2019, Fernández and Rezac 2016, Odria 2017, 2019, a.o.). A well-known example comes from Spanish, illustrated in (1). The definite human DP in (1a) needs a marker which is homophonous with the dative; the same marker is ungrammatical with the inanimate in (1b). One challenge is that despite their oblique appearance, such objects exhibit the syntax of structural accusatives in many languages (Bárány 2018 for recent discussion, a.o). Thus, in numerous descriptive and formal accounts alike, oblique DOM reduces to a matter of allomorphy more generally seen with accusatives (the ‘prepositional accusative’ tradition, Rohlfs 1971, 1973, Roegiest 1979, Halle and Marantz 1993, Keine and Müller 2008, Keine 2010, López 2012, a.o.). However, this raises the question of how to capture the relevant syncretism without incurring an ABA pattern (Johnston 1996, Caha 2009, 2017, Bobaljik 2012, 2015, Harðarson 2016, Starke 2017, McFadden 2018, Smith et. al 2018, Zompì 2019, a.o., for syncretism and *ABA). More simply put, the DOM-oblique syncretism would require the two categories to be adjacent on the case sequence. But as individual languages use various oblique means (dative, locative, genitive, etc.) which can also interact with other licensing strategies, none of the ‘simple’ case hierarchies can derive the facts in a uniform manner. Examining data from a set of language families including Romance, Indo-Aryan, Basque, Slavic, etc., we propose that a solution comes from the use of so-called Enriched Case Hierarchies, which contain more than one accusative category (following observations in Stake 2017). As oblique DOM affects various alignment types, we also illustrate similar problems from ergative-absolutive systems. The logic behind enriched case hierarchies is moreover an opportunity to probe the similarities/differences oblique DOM shows with respect to other structural objects, leading to a better understanding of its nature.

(1) Spanish (Ormazabal and Romero 2013, ex.1 a,b)

a. He encontrado *(a) la niña.   
have.1sg found dat=dom def.f.sg girl
I have found the girl.'

b. He encontrado (*a) el libro.
have1sg found dat=dom def.m.sg book
I have found the book.'