Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

QP Fest April 25: Save the date!

Our annual QP Fest will be the afternoon of Friday, April 25. Stay tuned for all the details in an upcoming issue.

Reminder: Melnick at Spoken Syntax Lab meeting today at 1PM

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by coming to hear Robin Melnick talk about his dissertation project at the Spoken Syntax Lab meeting: 2/14, 1PM in Cordura 100 at CSLI. Robin’s overview:

“My thesis project looks at variation within variation, at how the principle of end weight — a factor underlying a number of different syntactic variation phenomena — itself varies by individual speaker. The project also experimentally explores competing accounts that seek to motivate the end-weight principle in individual differences of cognitive resources or experiences.”

Updated department collaboration graphs

The department collaboration graphs have been updated, and are linked at the top of this page.

A Phonetician’s Valentine

Valentine’s Day-themed linguistics jokes make for a pretty specialized genre – but we managed to find one, courtesy of Sofia Kanibolotskaia at U Toronto.

Colloquium Today (Friday, Jan. 31), 3:30 PM: Laura Kalin

Laura Kalin (UCLA) will give a colloquium today (Friday Jan. 31) at 3:30 PM in the Greenberg Room, followed by a departmental social.

Aspect and Argument-Licensing in Neo-Aramaic

Abstract: In this talk, I present two empirical puzzles that involve intriguing interactions between aspect and agreement in Neo-Aramaic languages. Verbs in Neo-Aramaic come in several different ‘base’ forms that are built with root-and-template morphology and encode tense, aspect, or mood. The two verb bases of interest here are the imperfective base, for example, qatl (from the verb root q-t-l, ‘kill’), and the perfective base, for example, qtil. Subject and object agreement appear as suffixes on these bases.

The first puzzle I address is the various aspect-based agreement splits seen across Northeastern Neo-Aramaic: the form and configuration of subject and object agreement reverses depending on the aspect of the verb base, with the subject agreement morpheme of one base looking like the object agreement morpheme of the other, and vice versa. I propose that we can make sense of these aspect splits if we allow imperfective aspect itself to license an argument, with agreement being the overt manifestation of this licensing. The second puzzle is a secondary perfective strategy employed in many of these languages, which makes use of the imperfective verb base with an added prefix (qam-, varying phonologically by language). This secondary perfective verb form takes subject and object agreement as though it were imperfective, rather than perfective. I argue that this data reveals that there are two aspectual projections in the syntax, with only the lower aspectual projection determining the form of the verb base.

Finally, I put the two proposals together: If aspect can license an argument, and there are in fact two aspectual projections in the syntax, then I predict that each aspectual projection should be able to license an argument separately. This is precisely what we find in progressives in the Neo-Aramaic language Senaya. Overall, then, my two proposals (aspect as an argument-licenser and the existence of two aspectual projections) are able to capture a range of empirical phenomena in Neo-Aramaic and add to our understanding of the syntactic options provided by Universal Grammar.

Laura Kalin seminar, Thursday 1/30 at noon

Differential Object Marking: Insight from Neo-Aramaic

Laura Kalin

Thursday, January 30, 12noon
Margaret Jacks Hall, Terrace Room (4th floor)

Differential Object Marking (DOM) is a phenomenon that splits (direct) objects into two classes: in one class are objects that get overtly marked (“prominent”/“non-canonical” objects), and in the other class are ones that do not. On an inclusive conception of DOM, marking may take the form of case, an adposition, agreement, or clitic-doubling. Common factors distinguishing objects are definiteness, specificity, and animacy, with objects ‘high’ on the relevant scale (e.g., more definite) getting marked. Strikingly, DOM tends to be a “parasitic” phenomenon – the overwhelming majority of DOM languages employ a DOM marker that lives a double life, appearing elsewhere without a DOM function (i.e., not appearing based on animacy/definiteness). The most common DOM marker is dative case or a dative adposition, as found in Hindi, Spanish, and certain Neo-Aramaic languages. In the Neo-Aramaic language Telkepe, DOM takes an unusual form: specific objects obligatorily trigger agreement on the verb and are optionally also marked with dative case.

In this talk, I review the different ways that DOM has been accounted for theoretically, and show how some of these accounts fare better (or worse) in Neo-Aramaic; I specifically address how we might account for the tendency for DOM to be parasitic on oblique case. I also propose an account of DOM in the Neo-Aramaic language Telkepe and discuss the obstacles to extending this account to other DOM languages. This is work in progress, and I welcome feedback and suggestions.