30 March 2015

Larry Hyman gives department colloq

Larry Hyman will give the department colloquium on Friday, April 3, at 3:30 in N400. The title of his talk is “Multiple argument marking in Bantoid,” and an abstract follows.

Given the typological similarities between the geographically and genetically distant Atlantic, Kordofanian and (Narrow) Bantu languages, it is generally assumed that early Niger-Congo had a synthetic structure with extensive noun class marking and derivational verb extensions (causative, applicative, etc.). However, other Niger-Congo languages show varying degrees of analyticity, some coming close to the endpoint of one morpheme per word. Much of the variation is quite clearly areal. In this paper I am concerned both with the mechanisms of change that lead from syntheticity to analyticity in the Nigeria-Cameroon borderland area, as well as the different strategies that are adopted as these languages lose their verbal extensions. The Bantoid languages I report on are typologically quite diverse. I am particularly concerned with what has replaced dative (recipient, benefactive) and instrumental applicative marking on verbs which historically allowed multiple object noun phrases (send-APPL chief letter, cook-APPL child rice, cut-APPL knife meat). The languages of this area show a remarkable variation: (i) Some languages allow multiple objects (typically with restrictions), while others do not (including some which have relic verb extensions); (ii) some have replaced verb extensions with serial verbs (take knife cut meat give child), others use adpositions (cut meat with knife for child). Still others have adopted multiple strategies for marking such arguments. In this study I sort out these strategies and attempt a micro-mapping of who has developed what where—and grammaticalizing from what (nouns? verbs?)? I will show that even adpositional languages have extensive verb serialization which they exploit for other functions (aspectual, directional, comparatives etc.), thereby raising the question of why only some Bantoid languages use serial verbs for argument marking. Although information is lacking for many languages, there does appear to be a southerly band of languages which mark datives and instruments with serial verbs. Information from Nigeria suggests that a similar distinction separates much of Lower Cross-River from Upper Cross River languages as well.

Psycholing Workshop

Shayne Sloggett writes:

This week we're meeting in the evening to hear from Amanda Rysling and Deniz Ozyildiz, who will be giving practice talks for PhoNE. Amanda will be telling us about "[...] a detection theoretic analysis of sensitivity to lexical restriction", while Deniz will be presenting on "A parallel OT analysis of exceptional stress in Turkish". Each talk should last about 20 minutes, with 10 minutes each for questions and feedback.

We'll meet this Tuesday (March 31) at 7:30pm. As in the past, the meeting will take place in Amanda's and my apartment. Light refreshment will be provided.

Poole and Keine talk on Wednesday

Ethan Poole and Stefan Keine will be giving auditioning their GLOW talk on Wednesday, April Fools Day, from 1:30 to 2:30 in N451. The talk is entitled “Intervention in tough constructions."

Nick LaCara speaks in the syntax workshop

The syntax workshop meets on Thursdays at 10AM in ILC N451. This Thursday, April 2, Nick will narrowly miss giving an April Fool’s presentation of his paper “Ellipsis is not Spell-Out: What Scandinavia tells us about ellipsis and phrases.” 


This paper investigates two contemporary theories of ellipsis licensing from the perspective of the Mainland Scandinavian languages. Scandinavian languages exhibit verb movement in main clauses in the form of verb-second order, but contrary to the predictions of Goldberg (2005) they do not show verb-stranding verb phrase ellipsis in VPE contexts. I argue that phase-based approaches to ellipsis (Gengel 2007, Holmberg 2001, Rouveret 2012, a.o.) cannot adequately capture this fact. Instead, following Sailor (2014), I argue in favor of Aelbrecht’s (2010) derivational approach to ellipsis, which captures the facts in Scandinavian languages straightforwardly.

Ivy Hauser is a Bloch Fellow

Our own Ivy Hauser has been selected as the Bloch Fellow by the Linguistic Society of America. The Bloch Fellowship includes tuition, travel, and subsistence money for the recipient to attend the Linguistics Institute this summer at the University of Chicago. The Bloch Fellow is an important position, since she is an ex-officio member of the Executive Committee of the Society with full voting rights and is the Chair of the LSA’s Committee on Student Issues and Concerns. Thus, the Bloch Fellow represents student members in important ways. Ivy will begin in May by attending a meeting of the Executive Committee, and she will serve for two years in this capacity.  For more information see the LSA web site.

The Lingle

The first general meeting of the undergraduate linguistic majors will take place this Friday, April 3, from 6-7PM in ILC N400.  The purpose of this inaugural Lingle is to review the resources and requirements of the various linguistics majors, get feedback from students about the major, and plan future events. All linguistic majors, actual and prospective, are invited to attend.