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ACTL Summerschool in linguistics, June 24-28, 2013

The courses

Merchant - Linguistic interfaces and the architecture of grammar: Ellipsis and related topics

This course surveys a wide range of phenomena that bear on questions of linguistic structure and how these structures interact, beginning with definitions of a variety of kinds of abstractness that have been posited as necessary to model linguistic knowledge, and an examination of how these definitions lead to differing analyses of elliptical and other constructions, including VP-ellipsis, sluicing, stripping, gapping, fragment answers, null complement anaphora, and pseudogapping. We review recent and ongoing work on the nature of the identity or recoverability constraint that regulates ellipsis, whether this constraint is syntactic or semantic, and whether ellipsis involves unpronounced syntactic structures (including psycholinguistic work on structural priming by ellipsis). We then investigate the properties of clausal, reduced clausal, adpositional and case-marked phrasal comparatives in Greek and other languages. Next we examine in detail a class of nominal ellipses, particularly in languages such as Spanish and Greek, which variably allow feature mismatches between antecedent and elided nominal and consider the implications these variations have for a theory of morphology. Finally, we look at a set of facts from verbal paradigms in Greek and especially British English varieties that inform the patterns of syncretism and portmaneauism that our theory of morphology must capture.

Rough overview:

Day 1: Explanations in linguistics: Evidence for abstract syntactic structures (from ellipsis and elsewhere) - slides
Day 2: "Deep" and "surface" anaphora, diagnostics for the missing, gender mismatches in nominal ellipses - handout
Day 3: Comparatives (phrasal and clausal); semantic variation in the lexicon and in the combinatorics - handout
Day 4: Voice mismatches, diathesis alternations, pronouns, and NPIs under ellipsis - handout
Day 5: Morphological questions: Conditions on contextual allomorphy and Distributed Morphology - handout

Preminger - The syntax of phi

In this course, we will explore the manner in which phi-features (number, person, gender/noun-class) behave within the syntactic component of grammar. Some central themes are given below.
[NOTE: Topics subject to change; what's given below should be taken as the optimistic, “time-permitting” version.]

Lecture notes for the course will be posted here: http://opreming.mysite.syr.edu/site/ACTL-2013.html

Some of the readings for the course, including the hard to get Marantz 1991 can be found here.

  1. The syntax of phi: Just syntax, or something more?
    Are there any properties of the way phi-features behave in syntax that are unique to them, and not shared by other syntactic features? If so, what are these properties, and why might they arise?
  2. The internal organization of phi-features, and their possible values
    The space of possible phi-feature values (or more accurately, the space of possible phi-feature value bundles) has been argued to be a constrained space, with a particular internal structure, otherwise known as a “feature geometry”. We will explore the facts that support these claims, and the geometries proposed to capture those facts.
    Relatedly, we will examine the question of privativity: whether phi-feature values are binary (+/-) or privative (can only be positively specified), a question that boils down to whether or not syntax ever needs to make direct reference to the negatively-specified variant of a given phi-feature.
  3. Phi and case
    A prominent view in generative syntactic literature holds that structural cases (nominative, absolutive, etc.) arise as a by-product of agreement in phi-features between a designated functional head and a given nominal. More recently, however, it has been argued that while phi-feature agreement and case are no doubt interrelated, the aforementioned causal relation might not hold. We will examine the typological facts underlying this argument.
  4. Pushing against the boundaries of syntax
    It is usually taken as a given that interactions among phi-features on different syntactic nodes are the purview of the syntactic component of grammar. But a certain set of phenomena, most of which involve linearity effects on agreement, have prompted some proposals that essentially relegate all such interactions to the post-syntactic, morpho-phonological component of grammar. We will explore the phenomena in question, and discuss whether such relegation is viable, and what are its costs and benefits.

Sudo - The semantics of phi

In this course, we will examine the semantics of phi-features from the viewpoint of formal semantics, and discuss issues arising at the (morpho)syntax-semantics interface. We will first concentrate on phi-features on pronouns, and develop a theoretical analysis. After that, we'll discuss phi-features on verbs, adjectives and nouns in light of our theory of phi-features on pronouns. Some of the main questions we will be concerned with are:
- How are phi-features on pronouns interpreted?
- Are there semantically inactive occurrences of phi-features on pronouns? Is so, which ones?
- Should we say that phi-features on predicates are semantically inactive? What about those appearing within single DPs?
(In this course we will work with Heim & Kratzer-style semantics. Familiarity with it is helpful but not presupposed. The first day is devoted to a (very brief) introduction of the theoreßtical framework.)

(Tentative schedule)
Day 1: Introduction to truth-conditional semantics
Day 2: Phi-features on pronouns and presuppositions
Day 3: Problem of bound pronouns: minimal pronouns or a semantic account?
Day 4: Number features on bound pronouns
Day 5: Phi-features on verbs, adjectives and nouns

 

Loewenstamm - The morpho-phonology of phi

Because the economy of phi-feature systems is mostly managed from within other modules, phonology is probably the area where phi could have been expected to give the least trouble. And yet, some truly vexing challenges arise where regularity and transparency might have been expected to prevail (e.g. why would the realization of Plural have anything to do with Gender, or vice versa ???). We will first critically review relevant features of some prominent theories of the interface between syntax and phonology. Then, we will directly confront a selection of empirical challenges including: the type-ambiguous behavior of some English affixes, the “Perlmutter Plurals” of Yiddish, Germanic Umlaut, Romance and Semitic Gender cum Number.
Warning: after tasting coffee for the first time, Abraham Lincoln said “If this was coffee, please give me some tea; but if this was tea, please bring me some coffee”. Similarly, if your interests lie primarily in Syntax and Semantics, this course might indeed feel like Phonology to you. On the other hand, if you are a phonologist interested in, say, the internal structure of segments, harmonic systems, tone, etc., the course will definitely have a syntactic flavor. Relevant info will be adduced depending on participants' background.

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