Speaker: Heidi Klockmann (Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS)
Title: The syntax of quantificational elements:drawing on insights from the distribution of features in the DP
Date: Thursday April 7
Venue: Van Eyckhof 2/003
Time: 15:15 – 16:30 hrs
In this talk, I focus on the syntax of quantificational elements, e.g. numerals, quantifiers, and quantifying nouns in pseudopartitive constructions, with an emphasis on identifying how the idiosyncrasies of these quantificational items interact with what I take to be uniform processes of case and agreement. In English, for example, quantifying nouns such as bunch or number are not a target of agreement, despite appearing to be the head of the construction and morphologically singular (a bunch / number of students); agreement instead targets the quantified noun, e.g. A bunch / number of students were studying in the library. The puzzle with these is how is it possible for agreement to skip over the quantifying noun in favor of the quantified noun? Numerals in English present similar puzzles, where agreement occurs with the quantified noun as opposed to the numeral, despite the presence of singular indefinite a, e.g. a hundred students were studying and similarly a whopping 75 farms have gone bankrupt. Likewise, in Polish (and a number of other Slavic languages), where there are four morphosyntactic classes of numerals, each showing a varying degree of adjectival and nominal properties, certain numerals consistently trigger default agreement and participate in numeral-specific patterns of case assignment.
Assuming case and agreement to be uniform processes within a language, it follows that it is the quantifying element itself which triggers unusual patterns of case or agreement. I take the perspective that we can understand these patterns by carefully examining the distribution of features in the structure, particularly on the quantifying element. This talk will consist of a number of case studies into quantificational elements, mostly from Polish and English, showing how the distribution of features interacts with case and agreement to produce the patterns that we find. This talk will be an exercise into a view of semi-lexicality (taking many of these quantifying elements to be semi-lexical) as a combination of the structural locus of an element and its feature composition.