Category Archives: Syntax

Kimberly Johnson Accepts Full Time Position at Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program

Please join us in congratulating alum Kimberly Johnson, who has just accepted a full time position as the Lead Transcriptionist for the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program.

Starting this May, Kimberly will be working alongside Dr. Samantha Cornelius and Dr. Juliet Morgan, to advance the documentation of the Chickasaw language, including the development of a searchable database of Chickasaw.

Congratulations, Kimberly!

Mariam Asatryan gives talk at Theoretical Linguistics and Languages of the Caucasus (TLLC), in Istanbul

On June 18th, Mariam Asatryan presented her research in a talk at Theoretical Linguistics and Languages of the Caucasus (TLLC), held at Istanbul Bilgi University.

The talk, titled “Inq: An Uncompetitive Pronoun in Eastern Armenian and Its Challenges to Binding Principles”, is a development of her first Generals Paper. She will also present this work again later this summer, as a flash talk at GLOW in Asia XIII (details to be announced later).

Paper by Kimberly Johnson Published in Natural Language Semantics

Kimberly Johnson’s paper “Time and evidence in the graded tense system of Mvskoke (Creek)”  has just been published in Natural Language Semantics. Based upon portions of her recently defended dissertation, this paper explores the direct and indirect evidence inferences associated with four past tenses in Mvskoke (Creek), an indigenous language spoken in Oklahoma. Access the full text of her article here:

Workshop on modification features UMass linguists

A workshop on modification that took place November 26-27th, was organized by current visitor Camelia Bleotu and faculty member Deborah Foucault. Three of our undergrads were invited to present: Tyler Poisson, Sarah Kim, and Mirella Vladova. The invited speaker was Tom Roeper.

WORKSHOP ON MODIFICATION (organizat de Adina Camelia Bleotu & Deborah Foucault)
Tyler Poisson (UMass Amherst): The Modificational Possessive: natural, intuitional, and experimental evidence for a syntactic analysis of generic possessives.
Sarah Kim (UMass Amherst): Acquisition of Exhaustivity for the English Definite Article in Speakers of Languages with Article Absence
Mirella Vladova (UMass Amherst): A Look Into Children’s Priority in Genitive and Prepositional Recursion.
Ioana-Amalia Luciu (University of Bucharest) & Adina Camelia Bleotu (University of Bucharest, ZAS): How Are Size, Age, Shape and Color Adjectives Ordered in English and Romanian? An Experimental Investigation
Daniela-Gabriela Truşcǎ (University of Bucharest) & Adina Camelia Bleotu (University of Bucharest, ZAS): An Experimental Investigation of the Ordering of Quality, Size and Color Adjectives in English and Romanian
 Vorbitor invitat:Tom Roeper  (UMass Amherst)How to put something inside itself

Akkuș colloquium Friday November 5 at 3:30

Our own Faruk Akkuș will present “Cross-referencing oblique arguments in Kurdish varieties” (joint work with Mohammed Salih and David Embick) in the Linguistics colloquium series at 3:30 Friday November 5, in an unexpected location: ILC S331. That’s neither ILC N400, nor Zoom. An abstract follows. All are welcome!

This study examines the system of argument indexation patterns in various Iranian languages with split-ergativity, focusing on Standard (Sulimaniyah) Sorani (SSK), Garmiani Sorani (GK) and Laki varieties. Our analysis of these patterns identifies a hitherto understudied Oblique/Oblique alignment system in GK, and has a number of implications for how phi-features are realized.

Focusing on the indexing effects shown by a certain type of possessor, along with the prepositional-arguments of ditransitives, we demonstrate that such effects are sensitive to abstract case features, rather than an alignment split per se (or avoidance of clitic-stacking). We also argue that the indexing patterns suggest an indirect relationship between morpho-syntactic operations and morpho-phonological realization, thus Sorani provides arguments against a substantive “clitic versus agreement” dichotomy. “Agreement” forms are sometimes moved clitics, and “clitic” forms are sometimes the result of Agree.

Akkus publishes at Linguistic Inquiry

Faruk Akkus’ paper titled “Evidence from Sason Arabic for Ā-Movement Feeding Case-Licensing Relations” appears at Linguistic Inquiry. The abstract of the squib is as follows:

This squib presents an argument for a locality-based, Case-theoretic licensing approach to configurations in which certain positions cannot be occupied by overt material at Spell-Out. Investigating an indirect causative construction in Sason Arabic, I demonstrate that the embedded agent is separated from its licenser by a phase domain, and as such cannot be Case-licensed. Ā-movement makes licensing possible, placing the embedded agent and its licenser in a local configuration. I also show that this approach fares better than alternative hypotheses such as the Exfoliation account or a PF-based account.

Katia Vostrikova Joins University of Göttingen

We’re delighted to share the news that Ekaterina Vostrikova (PhD, 2019) will be joining the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in July as a DAAD scholar, and will then in September begin a three-year position there as a post-doctoral researcher. Katia’s post-doc position is funded by a DFG project grant titled ‘A Crosslinguistic Investigation Into Phrasal and Clausal Exceptive-Additive Constructions’, and will be supervised by Clemens Steiner-Mayr.

In addition, Katia’s paper “Conditional Analysis of Clausal Exceptives” has just appeared in the newest issue of Natural Langauge Semantics (NaLS 29:2 159-227).

Congratulations, Katia!

Franklin Institute Symposium in Honor of Barbara Partee (April 19th)

We are extremely happy to announce that, in honor of Professor Barbara Partee receiving the 2021 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, the Franklin Institute and the University of Pennsylvania are organizing a special symposium honoring her and her legacy in the field.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this symposium will be held remotely, and can be viewed publicly over Zoom. It will take place on Monday, April 19th, from 9:45AM to 3PM (EST), and will feature presentations by:

  • Barbara Partee (UMass Amherst)
  • Gennaro Chierchia (Harvard University)
  • Pauline Jacobson (Brown University)
  • Florian Schwarz (University of Pennsylvania)
  • Seth Cable (UMass Amherst)
  • Christopher Potts (Stanford University)

The website for the symposium, which includes the full program (with abstracts) as well as the Zoom link for the remote presentations, can be found at the link below:

Again, this event is entirely public, and all are welcome (and encouraged) to attend.

Georgi colloquium March 5

Doreen Georgi, University of Potsdam, presented “How to account for resumptives in movement chains: insights from Igbo” in the Linguistics colloquium series March 5. An abstract follows.

In this talk I will address the general problem of how we can model the pronunciation of lower chain links when the lower copy is realized in a reduced form such as a resumptive pronoun. There are two main approaches in the literature: BigDP/stranding and spell-out approaches. Both approaches have quite general (conceptual as well as empirical) short-comings, and hence none of them can be considered the standard / widely accepted approach. Van Urk (2018) provides new arguments that favor a spell-out approach that makes use of partial copy deletion. His arguments are based on cross-linguistic patterns of phi-mismatches between the pronounced chain links. In the talk, I will present novel data from my recent (co-authored) work on resumption in Igbo (Benue-Kwa, Nigeria). The phi-mismatch pattern in Igbo is more complex than previously described patterns; in fact, it raises new challenges for a spell-out approach (and also for a BigDP approach) to chain link realization.