Thursday 17 May – Jan-Wouter Zwart

Speaker: Jan-Wouter Zwart (University of Groningen)
Title: Tense in infinitives: a non-cartographic approach
Date: Thursday 17 May
Venue: Van Eyckhof 2/003
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs


The presence or absence of T inside infinitival clauses informs the structural analysis of infinitival complements. On a cartographic approach to syntactic structure, absence of T leads to the hypothesis of a truncated clause structure, where the infinitive fails to grow into a fullsized clause. On this approach, the structure of the clause with its functional projections is universally given, so that absence of a low functional projection necessarily implies absence of all higher projections in the universal structure.
This cartographic approach to infinitival clause structure underlies the analysis of Wurmbrand (2001) (and, to a lesser extent, also Ter Beek 2008), where the projection for licensing objects vP is lower than the projection of the tense operator TP. As we will see, objects in German and Dutch typically cannot be realized internal to an infinitival complement clause, suggesting to Wurmbrand that in those situations the truncation point is below vP, and absence of object licensing and absence of tense go hand in hand. But as we will see, an independent tense operator can be present inside the infinitival complement, even if objects cannot be licensed internal to the infinitival clause, suggesting that the cartographic approach, where size of the infinitival clause is determined by an implicational hierarchy, is unsuccessful in this domain.
This paper proposes an alternative, more dynamic approach to clause structure, capitalizing on the idea, tacitly assumed in most approaches, that a derivation must be a network of derivations (‘layered derivations’, cf. Zwart 2009), with subsidiary derivations feeding into a main derivation at various points. On this approach, infinitival tense points to the construction of a tensed verb cluster in a separate derivation.

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Thursday 7 June – Anikó Lipták and Güliz Günes

Speaker: Anikó Lipták (Leiden University) and Güliz Günes (Leiden University)
(joint work with Jason Merchant)
Title: Dutch P-stranding under sluicing
Date: Thursday 7 June
Venue: Van Eyckhof 2/003
Time: 11.15-12.30 hrs

This talk provides an explanation for the surprising ban on preposition stranding by R-pronominals in sluicing in Dutch. While R-pronouns can strand their preposition in non-elliptical contexts at a distance, they cannot do this when the stranded preposition is contained in an elided clause (Merchant 2001). We show that the observed ban cannot be attributed to a prosodic problem, concerning either the (de)accentuation of the stranded preposition or that of the overt R-pronoun. Pointing out some problems with an existing syntactic account of the data, we propose that the source of ungrammaticality lies entirely in the morphology.

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Wednesday 21 February – Artemis Alexiadou

speaker: Artemis Alexiadou (Humboldt University, Berlin)
Title: Some puzzles about derivational morphology
Date: Wednesday 21 February (NOT THURSDAY!!)
Venue: Van Eyckhof 2/002
Time: 15.45-17.00 hrs

Please notice the change of the time and the place!!!


In this talk, I will address two asymmetries observed in derivational morphology across languages. The first asymmetry, discussed in Baker (2003), is that while nominalization is extensive, verbalization is limited. The second one, discussed in Borer (2013), is that there are no zero-derived verb-noun pairs that involve overt affixes. I will approach these asymmetries by adopting a view on word formation couched within the framework of Distributed Morphology.


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Thursday 15 March – Jenneke van der Wal

Speaker: Jenneke van der Wal (Leiden University)
Title: Topic-based flexible nominal licensing in Bantu
Date: Thursday 15 March
Venue: Van Wijkplaats 2/002
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

Two typical Bantu syntactic characteristics are subject inversion and symmetrical double objects, which are both problematic for current theories of Case and agreement. I propose that both can be captured using a new concept of flexible licensing by low functional heads (Appl and v), connected to topicality.

In subject inversion the logical subject appears postverbally and a preverbal locative/patient/instrument agrees with the verb (-zi- in 1):
(1) Inzogá nti-zi-nywá abáana.
9.alcohol NEG-9SM-drink 2.children
‘It’s the children who do not drink alcohol.’ Kinyarwanda (Ngoboka 2016: 356)

In double object symmetry, either object of a ditransitive (recipient or theme) can be passivised and either can be object-marked (OM) on the verb (2):
(2) a. U-mama u-ba-nik-e in-cwadi (aba-ntwana).
1a-mama 1SM-2OM-give-PFV 9-book 2-children
‘Mama gave them a book (the children).’
b. U-mama u-yi-nik-e aba-ntwana (in-cwadi).
1a-mama 1SM-9OM-give-PFV 2-children 9-book
‘Mama gave the children it (a book).’ Zulu (Adams 2010: 11)

The challenge is how T (for inversion) or v (for object marking) can agree with a lower Goal (theme) across a higher one (subject or benefactive), given standard non-intervention locality restrictions on Agree. I explore the hypothesis that the intervening argument can be licensed by the head that introduces it (v or Appl), if and only if it is non-topical. This allows the higher head to probe past it (assuming no defective intervention).

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Thursday 1 March – Bernat Bardagil-Mas

Speaker: Bernat Bardagil-Mas (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen/UC Berkeley)
Title: Multiple exponence and patchwork paradigms
Date: Thursday 1 March
Venue: Van Wijkplaats 2/002
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs


This talk discusses participant cross-reference in Panará, a Northern Jê language spoken in central Brazil. Previous work on the language (Dourado 2001, 2003) concluded that Panará presents a partial alignment split in the exponence of case. While DPs (both pronominal and lexical) are case-marked in an accusative pattern, the pronominal clitic system works in an alignment split: in realis mood, clitics mirror the case exponed on DPs, but in irrealis mood a different accusative alignment system emerges with the irruption of a different nominative clitic paradigm.

After introducing the existing narrative and comparing the Panará case with the existing claims for other Jê languages, I will challenge the two basic claims in the existing view of Panará alignment: there is no clitic nominative paradigm, and there is no clitic alignment split. I will argue that the illusion of a nominative clitic paradigm results from one of the instances of multiple exponence (Campbell 2012) in the Panará participant cross-reference system, and from a shift in the person features targeted by person exponence in irrealis mood.

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Thursday 15 February – Hans Broekhuis

Speaker: Hans Broekhuis (Meertens Instituut)
Title: Asymmetrical coordination
Date: Thursday 15 February
Venue: Van Wijkplaats 2/002
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

Click here for the abstract 


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Thursday 7 December – Norbert Corver

Speaker: Norbert Corver (UiL-OTS, Utrecht University)
Title: Getting imaginative with a brain full of adverbs
Date: Thursday 7 December
Venue: Van Eyckhof 3/002
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs


Adverbs and adverbial expressions have played a somewhat subordinate role in the history of generative linguistics; see, though, Cinque’s (1999) seminal study on adverbs. Plausibly, this is due to their somewhat “elusive” nature. As has become clear from studies on adverbial syntax, the boundaries of the concept “adverb”, its grammatical characterization and its internal syntax are often unclear and not agreed upon by researchers (see among others Bowers 1975, Jackendoff 1977, Emonds 1985, Travis 1988, Baker 2003, Alexiadou 2013).

Many adverbs and adverbial expressions display “small elements” (functional material) whose status is not always immediately clear. In Dutch, for example, we find the element -s in adverbial expressions such as anders (other-s, ‘differently’) and straks (soon-s, ‘soon’). This -s also shows up in adverbial expressions such as voorzichtigjes (careful-dim-s, ‘carefully’), which features the diminutive morpheme -je besides the “adverbial” morpheme -s. And what about expressions like op z’n Trumps (at his Trump’s, ‘in a Trump-like way’), which display a possessive pronoun in combination with what superficially looks like a possessor noun phrase? Trying to be (as) imaginative (as rapper Eminem), I hope to give some insight into the linguistic nature and behavior of these small functional elements and this way also into the inner structure of adverbs/adverbial expressions.

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Thursday 23 November – Rint Sybesma

Speaker: Rint Sybesma (Leiden University)
Title: VO-OV in Chinese languages and Voice and little v
Date: Thursday 23 November
Venue: Van Eyckhof 3/002
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

In Chinese languages, both SVO and SOV surface orders are common. We see variation both within and between languages. Some languages, like Cantonese opt almost exclusively for SVO, while languages from the Wu and Min families tend to have SOV as soon as either the V or the O is more than just a bare V or a bare O. Mandarin, finally, shows both orders in several contexts. In this talk I try to find out whether we can understand what is going on if our analysis of these patterns involves Voice and little v, which may or may not be split or bundled all the time.

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Thursday 9 November – Norma Schifano

Speaker: Norma Schifano (University of Cambridge)
Title: The expression of progressive aspect in an endangered variety: the case of Grico
Date: Thursday 9 November
Venue: Van Eyckhof 3/002
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

Joint work with Adam Ledgeway and Giuseppina Silvestri (University of Cambridge)

The aim of this talk is to investigates the expression of progressive aspect by means of verbal periphrases in the Italo-Greek variety known as Grico, spoken in Salento (southern Italy). Building on the extremely valuable, yet out-dated, description of Rohlfs (1977), we first present an overview of the array of different patterns brought to light by our recent fieldwork and through a survey of a selection of both early and contemporary sources which include combinations of (non-)inflected STAND with (non-)finite forms of a lexical verb, optionally linked by functional elements. After describing the empirical scenario, we assess the degree of grammaticalization of the patterns which are still productive today, reconstructing their evolution from earlier periphrases and paying particular attention to the grammaticalization of the ambiguous element pu ‘where; from; that’. Finally, we analyse a hybrid structure currently consistently produced by semi-speakers from different villages, which seems to instantiate a new ‘third’ option within the local repertoire. We conclude with of a number of observations about the role of this case study for our knowledge of diatopic morphosyntactic microvariation in Grico and for the nature of language contact and language change.

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Thursday 26 October – Marijana Marelj

Speaker: Marijana Marelj (Utrecht University)
Title: The vagueness of HAVE(ing)
Date: Thursday 26 October
Venue: Eyckhof 3/002
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs


Whether characterized as “semantically impoverished” (Butt 1995), “semi-lexical” (Corver and van Riemsdijk 2001), “vague” (Bruening 2015), or as “having no independent semantic content” (Ritter and Rosen 1997), different researchers seem to agree on the intuitive description of what the notion “light verb” is about. The formalization of what it means to be “light” or “semantically vacuous”, however, seems to elude us.

Taking the empirical domain of HAVE as a testing ground and the work of Ackema and Marelj (2012) as a starting point, I pursue the formalization of thematic lightness while maintaining the lex parsimony, i.e., having one single entry for all the guises of HAVE. This will further lead us to discuss the purported “specialness” of the complements of HAVE and probe into the relation between the Thematic and the Aspectual realms.

The upshots of the talk are the following:

  1. HAVE: <[ ]> , where [ ] is an interface, unvalued feature.
  2. The complements of light verbs are not per se aspectually “special”. It is the aspectual “scaffolding” they are embedded in that makes them look “special”.
  3. Thematic & Aspectual roles cannot and should not be collapsed into each other.

Selected  Bibliography

Ackema, Peter (1999). Issues in Morphosyntax. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Corver, Norbert & Henk van Riemsdijk (2001). Semi-Lexical Categories. The function of Content Words and the Content of Function Words. Berlin/NY: Mouton de Gruyter.
Marelj, Marijana (2004). Middles and Argument Structure across Languages. Ph.D. dissertation, Utrecht University.
Marelj, M. (2012). To have the Empty Theta Role.  The Theta System: Argument Structure at the Interface Oxford: Oxford University Press. Met Martin Everaert en Tal Siloni. Met Peter Ackema.
Pesetsky, David & Esther Torrego (2007). The syntax of valuation and the interpretability of features. In Phrasal and Clausal Architecture: Syntactic derivation and interpretation in honor of Joseph E. Emonds, ed. Simin Karimi et al. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 262-294.
Ritter, Elizabeth and Sara Thomas Rosen (1997). ‘The Function of Have’. Lingua 101, 295-321.

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