Our department is delighted to welcome Karin Vivanco, a Ph.D. candidate at the Universidade de São Paulo, who works on syntax, psycholinguistics, and indigenous languages of the Amazon. Her talk, "On clausal pied-piping," will be taking place at 10:00 AM in SS 2127.
Since its discovery by Ross (1967), the phenomenon of pied-piping has drawn much attention in the area of syntax. Basically, pied-piping occurs whenever a certain element (usually a WH- phrase) "drags along" additional elements in the presence of some kind of syntactic displacement. Even though it is commonly found with small syntactic constituents such as prepositional and noun phrases, pied-piping may even affect larger constituents such as clauses. This operation, which seems to be rare cross-linguistically, is called clausal piped-piping and has been found in languages like Basque (Urbina 1993, Arregi 2003), Imbabura Quechua (Cole 1982), and Tlingit (Cable 2010). In this talk, I show how a Brazilian language called Karitiana (Tupian family) exploits clausal pied-piping extensively to build long-distance questions like 'What do you think that Mary bought?'. I suggest that rampant nominalization of embedded clauses and a ban against WH- in situ may force widespread clausal pied-piping in Tupian languages. If this proporal is correct, one could explain why some languages resort to clausal-piping while others don't - and this ultimately could shed some light on the nature of pied-piping itself.