Thursday 23 February – Güliz Güneş & Aslı Göksel

Speaker: Güliz Güneş (Leiden University) & Aslı Göksel (Boğaziçi University)

Title: Phonology of Agreement: optional double agreement and optional resizing of phonological words in Turkish

Date: Thursday 23 February

Time: 15.15-16.30

Venue: Lipsius 30


THE ISSUE: Stress in Turkish is typically word-final (1a-b, where prominence is denoted by capital letters). However, certain morphemes trigger stress on the morphemes that immediately precede them (e.g. the copula in 1c). Given the exceptional stress patterns that they create, these so-called pre-stressing morphemes have generated much recent debate.

1. a. [kitAp] b. [gör-dü-lEr] c. [gör-ecEk-i-di-ler]

        book              see-PST-3PL      see-FUT COPPST-3PL

‘book’ ‘They saw (it).’ ‘They were going to see (it).’

2. a. [(gör-ecEk)M/ω -i-di-ler] b. [(gör-dü-lEr)M/ω] c. [(kitAp)M/ω]

The prosodic grouping in (2) hints towards an apparent mismatch of domains, in which a prosodic word may target an entire “word”, i.e. root+its affixes (in 2b and c, the verbal complex and the vowel harmonic word) or only a part of it (2a). In this paper we argue that such morphemes are not problematic after all. We claim that the phenomenon in (1c) arises not from a mismatch of domains, but from a mismatch in the timing and direction of the formation of morphosyntactic and prosodic constituents.

SET I – optional resizing of ωs: Any account that assumes the raising of the participle to a position where agreement resides (cf. Shwayder 2015 and the references in there) cannot foresee the variable prosodic grouping given below. This is because, if each M-word corresponds to an ω, and if an M-word is derived via raising, then any M-word that contains the agreement morpheme must invariably correspond to a single ω. This is not borne out – compare (3a) and (3b).

3. A: Had the visitors seen Bill?

a. B: [((gör-mÜş)ω-NP (-ler-Ø-di)ω)φ]ι-F

            see-PERF– 3PLCOPPST

           Lit: ‘(They) had seen.’

a. B: [((gör-müş -lEr)ω-NP (-Ø-di)ω)φ]ι-F

            see-PERF-3PL COPPST

         Lit: ‘(They) had seen.’

Dissimilar to the previous accounts, we claim that there is no v-to-Asp or v-to-T raising in Turkish. As such, the M-words that host both the verb root and T or Asp are derived via the lowering of T and Asp to v. In the talk, we will show how this twist naturally accounts for the optional resizing of ωs given in (3).

SET II – optional double agreement: Although the agreement morpheme is commonly exponed on the right edge of the verbal complex (as in 1b and c), certain agreement markers may also be realized on the right edge of the verb participle (i.e. in the middle of the vowel harmonic word) (as in 3). Among the two agreement paradigms in Turkish, (i.e. K-paradigm and Z-paradigm), only the exponents of the K-paradigm and the third person plural form of the Z-paradigm seem to be allowed in the verb-medial position (Sezer 1998, Good & Yu 2005). What is more, prosodic grouping indicates that variable ω-formation is possible only with those agreement morphemes that are allowed in medial position.

We present novel data to show that the agreement markers that are allowed in the verb-medial position may also be realized simultaneously in two places, i.e. both verb-finally and verb-medially.

4. gör-müş –ler-Ø-di-ler.


    Lit: ‘(They) had seen.’

In the second half of the talk we will discuss if there is a correlation between the medial (double) vs. final realization of agreement and prosodic resizing. We conclude that these are independent phenomena and however agreement is derived, a strategy such as lowering is necessary to predict variable parses given in (3).

We will also discuss other phonological accounts for double agreement from other languages such as Spanish (Harris & Halle 2005) and Basque (Arregi & Nevins 2012), and conclude that the double realization of agreement in Turkish cannot be accounted for by simply appealing to the phonological reduplication.

SELECTED REFERENCES: Good, J. & Yu, A. 2005. Morphosyntax of two Turkish subject pronominal paradigms. In Clitic and Affix Combinations, eds. L. Heggie, & F. Ordòñez: Amsterdam/ Philadelphia, John Benjamins B. V., 315-342. ■ Newell, H. 2008. Aspects of the morphology and phonology of phases. PhD dissertation, McGillU. ■ Sağ, Y. 2013. Copula in Turkish. In WAFL 8. Ed. U. Özge, 293–299. MIT WPL. ■ Shwayder, K. 2015. Words and subwords: phonology in a piece-based syntactic morphology. PhD dissertation, UPenn.

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Thursday 9 February – Seid Tvica

Speaker: Seid Tvica (UvA)
Title: The Rich Agreement Hypothesis beyond Indo-European
Date: Thursday 9 February
Venue: Lipsius 30
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

It is well-established in the literature that many Germanic and Romance languages differ in the placement of adverbs, appearing either before or after the finite verb. This typological distinction is standardly accounted for via v-to-I0 movement, arguably triggered by the subject agreement features that are assumed to be located at I0 (cf. Roberts 1985; Kosmeijer 1986; Rohrbacher 1994; Vikner 1995; Bobaljik and Thráinsson 1998; Koeneman and Zeijlstra 2014, among many others). The observed correlation between the properties of agreement morphology and verb movement gave rise to the so-called “Rich Agreement Hypothesis” (RAH) which states that in controlled environments the finite verb moves to a vP-external position if and only if the agreement morphology is rich (cf. Koeneman and Zeijlstra 2014).  In this talk, I present the results of a typological investigation of the RAH, showing that the hypothesis holds in all studied  languages outside Indo-European that exhibit environments in which the presence (or absence) of verb movement can be detected. Although a number of languages prima facie appear to challenge the RAH, it turns out that these “counter-examples” arise due to either morphological triggers of verb movement that are not related to agreement, or other types of displacements, such as vP- and vP-remnant movement.

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Wednesday 14 December – Vera Gribanova

Speaker: Vera Gribanova (Stanford University)
Title: On head movement and the verbal identity condition in ellipsis
Date: Wednesday 14 December
Venue: Matthias de Vrieshof 2/001
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

In this talk I present recent developments in our understanding of the mechanisms that yield head movement configurations (Gribanova and Harizanov, in progress) and use these developments to explain otherwise mysterious contrasts involving the verbal identity condition in verb-stranding ellipsis (VSE) across languages. Such configurations involve verb movement out of an ellipsis domain that is TP/AspP/vP sized (depending on the language).

Although constituent ellipsis typically requires identity of the elided constituent with respect to some linguistic antecedent, phrasal extraction is special: when there is phrasal movement out of an ellipsis site (1), the extracted element need not match its antecedent:

1. I know how many cats John owns <how many cats>, but not how many dogs [he owns <how many dogs>].

The usual way of understanding this observation is that the extraction leaves a variable in the base position, and variables are considered identical for the purposes of the licensing condition on ellipsis (Rooth 1992, Heim 1997, Merchant 2001).

Early work on VSE in Irish (McCloskey 2012, 2011) and Hebrew (Goldberg, 2005a,b) demonstrated the verb, when head-moved out of an elided constituent, behaves unlike the phrasal cases in (1), never permitting any sort of mismatch with its antecedent. This gave rise to the Verbal Identity Condition, stated in (2):

2. The Verbal Identity Condition:
The licensing condition on ellipsis requires identity between parts of the morphosyntactic (verbal) complex that originate inside the ellipsis site and the corresponding antecedent parts.

This observation, in turn, has been used to support the idea that head movement is postsyntactic (Schoorlemmer and Temmerman, 2012): if the parts of the verbal complex unify postsyntactically, they will be inside the ellipsis site in the narrow syntax and at the time of ellipsis licensing, necessitating a strict matching between those parts and the antecedent. On this view, as far as the syntax is concerned, there is no movement and therefore no possibility for mismatch, explaining the contrast with genuine syntactic phrasal movement in (1).

The more we learn about VSE crosslinguistically, however, the more it becomes apparent that the VIC is not a universal property of these constructions. In languages like Russian (Gribanova 2013, To appear), Hungarian (Lipták 2013), European Portuguese (Santos 2009), and Swahili (Ngoyani 1996), the stranded verb in VSE need not match its antecedent, if the two involve contrast. A Russian example is provided in (3):

3. Violations of the VIC with contrasting verbs:
a.Našel                li  Paša knigu          v   biblioteke,       i        žurnal                 v   stolovoj?
find.PST.SG.M  Q Paša book.ACC   in library.PREP  and  magazine.ACC   in cafeteria.PREP
‘Did Pasha find a book in the library and magazine in the cafeteria?’

b. Net, ne      našel,                    a      poterjal.
No,  NEG   find.PST.SG.M, but lose.PST.SG.M
No, he didn’t find (…), he lost (…).’

c. Našel,              no   potom poterjal
find.PST.SG.M  but then     lose.PST.SG.M
‘He did (…), but then he lost (…)’

Such patterns lead to a paradox: on the one hand, the absolute application of the VIC in languages like Hebrew and Irish points to a postsyntactic status for head movement. On the other hand, the ability to mismatch verbs under contrast in languages like Russian suggests that head movement in such cases is acting more like the phrasal movement in (1) — suggesting that it takes place in the narrow syntax.

I present a solution to this paradox that relies on a recent set of proposals by Gribanova and Harizanov (in progress). The core idea is that  the phenomena we attribute to ‘head movement’ can be bifurcated into two groups: i) post syntactic amalgamation of heads, which is morphophonologically driven, and ii) genuine syntactic movement, which yields word order permutations but not word formation. This view gives us a point of leverage to start thinking about the paradoxical VIC patterns, the idea being that mismatches in VSE are permitted when ‘head movement’ is syntactic, but not when it is postsyntactic. I present independently motivated analyses of Irish and Russian clause structure which support exactly this conclusion. Verb movement in Irish involves postsyntactic amalgamation only, predicting  that the VIC should always be observed. By contrast, head movement in Russian involves both the syntactic and the postsyntactic types, with the last movement step being syntactic and giving rise to the possibly of verbal mismatches like (3) in VSE.


Goldberg, Lotus. 2005a. On the identity requirement in VP ellipsis. Presented at the Identity in Ellipsis workshop at UC Berkeley.
Goldberg, Lotus. 2005b. Verb-stranding vp ellipsis: A cross-linguistic study. PhD diss, McGill University.
Gribanova, Vera. 2013. Verb-stranding verb phrase ellipsis and the structure of the Russian verbal complex. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 31 (1): 91–136.
Gribanova, Vera. To appear. Head movement and ellipsis in the expression of Russian polarity focus. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.
Gribanova, Vera, and Boris Harizanov. In progress. Whither head movement? Stanford University.
Heim, Irene. 1997. Predicates or formulas? Evidence from ellipsis. In Proceedings from Semantics and Linguistic Theory VII, ed. Aaron Lawson, 197–221. Cornell, Ithaca: CLC Publications.
Lipták, Anikó. 2013. The syntax of emphatic positive polarity in Hungarian: evidence from ellipsis. Lingua 128: 72–92.
McCloskey, James. 2011. The shape of Irish clauses. In Formal approaches to Celtic linguistics, ed. Andrew Carnie, 143–178. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
McCloskey, James. 2012. Polarity, ellipsis and the limits of identity in Irish. Workshop on Ellipsis, Nanzan University.
Merchant, Jason. 2001. The syntax of silence: Sluicing, islands and the theory of ellipsis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ngonyani, Deo. 1996. VP ellipsis in Ndendeule and Swahili applicatives. In Syntax at Sunset, UCLA working papers in syntax and semantics, Number 1, eds. Edward Garrett and Felicia Lee, 109–128. Department of Linguistics, UCLA.
Rooth, Mats. 1992a. Ellipsis redundancy and reduction redundancy. In Proceedings from the Stuttgart Ellipsis Workshop, eds. S. Berman and A. Hestvik. Arbeitspapiere des Sonderforschungsbereichs 340, No. 29.
Schoorlemmer, Erik, and Tanja Temmerman. 2012. Head movement as a PF-phenomenon: evidence from identity under ellipsis. In Proceedings of the 29th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, eds. Jaehoon Choi, E. Alan Hogue, Jeffrey Punske, Deniz Tat, Jessamyn Schertz, and Alex Trueman, 232–240. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

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Thursday 8 December – Metin Bağrıaçık‎

Speaker: Metin Bağrıaçık (Ghent University)
Title: Relative Clauses in Asia Minor Greek
Date: Thursday 8 December
Venue: Matthias de Vrieshof 4/012
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

In this talk I will provide a synchronic and a diachronic account of the micro-variation in headed relative clause (HRC) formation strategies within the Asia Minor Greek dialects (dialects which were spoken in the regions known as Cappadocia, Pharasa and Pontus in modern-day Turkey until 1923, but are now spoken in various locations in Greece). In all the three dialects, HRCs are finite structures. In Cappadocian and (certain sub-varieties of Pontic) HRCs are obligatorily prenominal and are introduced by morphemes identical with the definite neuter singular/plural articles (‘to/ta’– dubbed as relative articles) which agree with the number feature on the head. In Pharasiot today, HRCs, which are –similar to Cappadocian and Pontic – finite, can nevertheless be both prenominal and postnominal without any semantic or pragmatic difference between the two, and the latter has been available only for the last four decades. Moreover, in this variety, both types of HRCs are introduced by a unique morpheme near identical in form to the relative articles of the other two dialects, ‘tu’.

I will first reveal that synchronically there is nothing as ‘relative articles’ in any of the dialects, but HRCs are simply subject to the phenomenon of ‘Obligatory Definiteness Spread’ according to which all (strictly) prenominal adjectival, numeral and relative modifiers have to be marked by overt neuter articles if the head they modify is definite. This is corroborated by the fact that there is a definiteness restriction on the head in HRCs in Cappadocian and Pontic. In Pharasiot, however, the head can be both definite or indefinite, which suggests that ‘tu’ is not an article, nor it is a relative article. Then, I will trace the origins of HRCs in Cappadocian/Pontic and Pharasiot in Early Medieval Greek and reveal that HRCs in Cappadocian/Pontic are successors of an already existing prenominal HRC structure with ‘relative articles’ but are by no means identical to this structure today. In Pharasiot, on the other hand, the ‘tu’ morpheme introducing HRCs is historically bimorphemic, composed of an external determiner from the neuter set (t-) and an invariant complementizer (u) that was employed to introduce HRCs. The morphological merger of these two yielded the prenominal HRCs in Pharasiot, which are by hypothesis of matching type. Tests applied on modern-day Pharasiot HRCs support the idea that these prenominal HRCs are indeed matching HRCs. On the other hand, the newly emerged postnominal HRCs, I argue, emerged due to pattern borrowing from Modern Greek and to identification of ‘tu’ with the Modern Greek invariant relativizer ‘pu’. This is witnessed by the fact that postnominal HRCs in Pharasiot are raising HRCs, precisely as Modern Greek HRCs with the invariant complementizer ‘pu’ (and without resumptives). In effect then, in modern-day Pharasiot, prenominal and postnominal HRCs differ not only in terms of their linear word order but also in terms of their internal structure.

All in all, the study casts serious doubts on the long-standing assumptions that (i) HRCs in the dialects are prenominal (solely) due to the Turkish influence exerted on them fr almost a millennium, and that (ii) Pharasiot is a sub-variety of Pontic or Cappadocian.

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Thursday 10 November – Lieven Danckaert

Speaker: Lieven Danckaert (CNRS/Université de Lille 3)
Title: The syntax-prosody mapping in a dead language, the case of Late Latin BE-periphrases
Date: Thursday 10 November
Venue: Matthias de Vrieshof 4/012
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs

In this talk I will be concerned with certain aspects of Latin word order and in particular the alternation between the word order patterns ‘lexical verb – auxiliary’ and ‘auxiliary – lexical verb’. As is well known, in the present day Romance languages only the latter pattern is available. My starting point is the observation that in the particular case of periphrastic expressions with a BE-auxiliary and a past participle, Late Latin has a remarkably strong and uniform preference for the head-final order ‘PaPa – Aux’. In contrast, in the case of combinations of a modal verb and a dependent infinitive, we do in fact observe the expected rise of the head-initial pattern. In order to explain the unexpected behavior of BE-periphrases, I will develop an account which characterizes the Late Latin BE-auxiliary as a prosodically weak element, which is subject to a specific PF-condition which limits its positional freedom. Crucial evidence to support this analysis comes from prose rhythm, as well as from novel corpus data on the interaction between verb placement and negation.

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Thursday 27 October – Olaf Koeneman

Speaker: Olaf Koeneman (Radboud University)

Joint work with: Hedde Zeijlstra (University of Göttingen)

Title: The Rich Agreement Hypothesis: a language universal?

Date: Thursday 27 October

Venue: Lipsius 235C

Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs




After its initial success, the hypothesis that verb movement to an inflectional position in the clausal structure, I(nfl), correlates with richness of morphology in some sense (Kosmeijer 1986, Rohrbacher 1994, Koeneman 2000, among others), has been criticized to such an extent that it almost became the laughing stock of generative syntax. In this talk, however, we will defend this Rich Agreement Hypothesis in its strongest, bidirectional formulation (V to I movement takes place if and only if agreement is rich) and argue that all prominent counterexamples have been misanalyzed. This puts the hypothesis in the position of a potential universal, and entails that there is something to be explained (which we will do) and something to be explored for the languages that are not part of the Indo-European language group (which Seid Tvica (University of Amsterdam) has done). Apart from discussing these consequences, we will also address some recent criticisms directed against our work.


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Thursday 20 October – Sjef Barbiers

Speaker: Sjef Barbiers (Leiden University)

Title: Restructuring Bridges

Date: Thursday 20 October

Venue: Van Eyckhof 2/005

Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs




In the sentences in (1a,b) the MoodSpeechAct adverb eerlijk gezegd/honestly is surfacing in the embedded clause but must be interpreted in the matrix clause.


(1)         Syntax-semantics mismatch type 1

  1. Ik denk dat ze eerlijk gezegd voor Rooney kiezen.                                   Dutch
  2. I think that they honestly will go for Rooney.                                            English

Both: ‘I honestly think they will go for Rooney.’


The reverse type of syntax-semantics mismatch is found in (2). Here the adverb ook ‘also’ is surfacing in the matrix clause but can be interpreted in the embedded clause.


(2)         Syntax-semantics mismatch type 2

Ze hebben gebeld maar… ‘They have called, but…’                                          Dutch

Ik denk ook dat ze komen.

I think also that they come

‘I think that they will also come.’


The two types of mismatches do not have the properties of speech errors or parentheticals. They are both restricted to bridge verbs. The type of adverbs that can occur in mismatch type 1 depends on the bridge verb, e.g., the bridge verb THINK only allows for MoodSpeechAct adverbs, while the bridge verb WANT only allows for ModVolition adverbs. I argue that these properties follow if we extend Cinque’s (2001) analysis of restructuring to finite complement clauses, such that the “matrix” bridge verb originates in the embedded clause and moves to the position of the matrix verb. It is this movement that distinguishes bridge verbs from other CP-selecting verbs. Only adverbs located in the specifier of the base position of the “matrix” verb in the embedded clause must be interpreted in the matrix clause. Mismatch type 2 is restricted to adverbs that are generated in or can reach a position immediately below the base position of the “matrix” verb in the embedded clause. Movement of the “matrix” bridge verb into the matrix clause makes it possible for them to move into the matrix clause as well. A consequence of this analysis is that the syntactic structure of finite CP complements of bridge verbs depends on the type of bridge verb involved. If time permits, I will also discuss other consequences, such as the analysis of long Wh-extraction, Neg-raising and complementizers.



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Thursday 29 September – Probal Dasgupta

Speaker: Probal Dasgupta (Indian Statistical Institute)

Title:  Arbitrariness at the agreement-classifier boundary

Date: Thursday 29 September

Time: 15.15-16.30

Venue: Lipsius 235C

Abstract: Classifiers may initially strike an agr[eement] language speaker as expressing Number plus obscure content. Once we put Gender in the picture, however, new questions emerge. Gender harbours arbitrariness; classification reflects tau [taxonomic] properties. Gender systems are austere; classifier systems are rich. Just how are we to handle languages like Bangla, Odia, Assamese that mix classifiers and agr? What sense can we make of the interaction of tau properties and phi-features more generally?

In the context of drafting tentative answers to these tough questions, we seem to have to appeal to semiotic principles. To introduce such principles gently, the presentation begins not with these obviously recalcitrant interactions between agr and classification phenomena, but with relatively straightforward, in-your-face facts about ‘titular’ classifiers. Titulars carry meanings like ‘big sister’ or ‘mister’ or ‘(your) excellency’; their properties await cross-linguistic exploration. It turns out that a set of titular facts in Bangla fall out neatly if we combine an unconstrained recursive syntax with sensitive principles of semiotics. These relatively easy-to-defend proposals give us the confidence to open up the much less tractable domain of agr-classifier interaction, where we seem to run into semiotic principles of a different order – at the level of characterizing feature ‘interpretability’ itself.

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Thursday 15 September – Pavel Rudnev

Speaker: Pavel Rudnev (University of Groningen)
Title: PPI-disjunctions in Russian
Date: Thursday 15 September
Time: 15.15-16.30
Venue: Lipsius 235C

Abstract:  We know since at least Szabolcsi (2002) that disjunction markers in certain languages display remarkable similarities with some in English, similarities attributable to both groups of elements’ status as positive polarity items. In the case of disjunction, this translates into the inability of disjunction to scope under a local sentential negation leading to violations of De Morgan’s laws: He doesn’t speak Russian or German in Russian can under certain circumstances be interpreted as a disjunction of negations, the narrow scope reading being unavailable. The current consensus in the literature seems to be that positive polarity is a semantic phenomenon. In this talk I suggest that positive polarity has an important syntactic component, which I show by revisiting the locality of (anti-)licensing, rescuing, the phrasal vs. clausal coordination as well as overt movement and scope in Russian.

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Comparative Syntax Meetings resume!

Our meeting resume after the summer break!

We are happy to announce our preliminary schedule:

15-9 Pavel Rudnev
29-9 Probal Dasgupta
13-10  TBA
27-10 Olaf Koeneman
10-11  TBA
24-11 Alexandra Rehn
(8-12)  (TBA)
14-12 Vera Gribanova
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