Thursday 13 February – Carlos Muñoz Pérez

Speaker: Carlos Muñoz Pérez (PUCC)  Joint work in progress with Matias Verdecchia (UBA)
Title: Predicate doubling in Spanish: On how discourse may mimic syntactic copying

Date: Thursday 13 February
Venue: Wijkplaats 2/005
Time: 15.15 – 16.30 hrs (drinks afterwards at Café de Keyser)

Abstract: 20200213-carlos-abstract

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Monday 16 December – Kyle Johnson

Speaker: Kyle Johnson (UMass)
Title: Rehabilitating Reinhart and Reuland

Date: Monday 16 December
Venue: Lipsius 2.35 (!)
Time: 15.15 – 17.00 hrs (drinks afterwards at Café de Keyser)

Abstract: One of the several innovations to Reinhart and Reuland’s binding theory is the idea that reflexives make the predicate they are an argument of reflexive. This derives some of the core cases of the locality condition that governs how far a reflexive may be from its antecedent. It is known to have counterexamples. This paper attempts to define what a reflexive predicate is so that some of those counterexamples are removed.

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Thursday 5 December – Víctor Acedo-Matellán

Speaker: Víctor Acedo-Matellán (Oxford University)
Title: On verbal elasticity: the stative-eventive alternation in perception verbs in Germanic

Date: Thursday 05 December
Venue: Lipsius 2.28
Time: 15.45 (!)-17.00 hrs (drinks afterwards at Café de Keyser)

Abstract: 20191205-Victor-abstract

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Thursday 21 November – Elisabeth Kerr

Speaker: Elisabeth Kerr (Leiden University)
Title: Clefts in Tunen: A biclausal account
Date: Thursday 21 November
Venue: Lipsius 2.28
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs (drinks afterwards at Café de Keyser)

Abstract here

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Thursday 7 November – András Bárány

Speaker: András Bárány (Leiden University)
Title: Syntactic and typological aspects of a typological gap in ditransitive constructions
Date: Thursday 7 November
Venue: Lipsius 2.28
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs (drinks afterwards at Café de Keyser)


Like (in)transitive constructions, ditransitive constructions can be characterised as showing different alignment types in case and agreement. The English ditransitive alternation, /I give the book to her/ vs. /I give her the book/, represents different types of case-marking alignment that are also found in other languages.

In languages with object agreement, the verb can also show different alignment types: in some languages it is the recipient that controls agreement, while in others it is the theme. Combining case and agreement, it turns out that certain alignment types are unattested: no language allows the verb to only agree with a theme in a double object construction such as /I give her the book/, for example. The recipient must always be available for agreement in such constructions.

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Thursday 24th October – Allen Asiimwe & Jenneke van der Wal

Speaker: Allen Asiimwe (Makerere/Leiden) & Jenneke van der Wal (Leiden)
Title: Rukiga augments are like Greek
Date: Thursday 24 October
Venue: Lipsius 2.28
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs (drinks afterwards at Café de Keyser)


Rukiga, a Bantu language spoken in Uganda, has augments not just on nouns but also on modifiers. Interestingly, on these modifiers, the augment is ‘optional’:

(1)    e-bi-muri          (e)-bi-rungi              (e)-bi-hango          (e)bingi
         AUG-8-flower AUG-8-beautiful    AUG-8-big              AUG-8-many
         ‘many (of the) big beautiful flowers’

Unlike previous accounts claiming a difference in definiteness or specificity, we argue that the presence of the augment on given modifiers brings about a subsective/restrictive reading (‘the big flower, as opposed to the small one’). Furthermore, we propose that they are in close apposition (unlike augmentless modifiers), just as Lekakou & Szendröi (2012) propose for Greek determiner spread, shown in (2).

(2)    to                 kokino          (to)               podilato
         the.N.SG    red.N.SG      the.N.SG     bike.N.SG
         ‘the red bike’                                                                                         Greek (Kolliakou 2004)

In the talk, we highlight the striking structural as well as interpretational parallels between Rukiga augments on modifiers and Greek determiner spread, showing how they should receive the same analysis.

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Thursday 26 September – Astrid van Alem

Speaker: Astrid van Alem (Leiden)
Title: Complementizer agreement is clitic doubling: evidence from intervention effects
Date: Thursday 26 September
Venue: Lipsius 2.28
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs (drinks afterwards at Café de Keyser)


It is well known that many non-standard West-Germanic languages have Complementizer Agreement: not only the verb, but also the complementizer agrees with the subject. This phenomenon has led to a debate in the literature about whether CA is pure syntactic agreement (e.g. Van Koppen 2005) or a PF phenomenon (e.g. Ackema & Neeleman 2004, Fuss 2014). The battleground are cases where an element (usually a focus particle) intervenes between the complementizer and the subject, since this may lead to an anti-agreement effect. In this talk I will discuss variation in the anti-agreement effect under intervention in Frisian, Limburgian, and Bavarian. I argue, based on novel and under-studied data, that neither the syntactic nor the PF approach to CA is correct. Instead, I will argue that the CA morpheme is a doubled clitic, making use of diagnostics from the recent debate about the status of object agreement vs. object clitic doubling.

To account for the anti-agreement effect, I follow Van Craenenbroeck & van Koppen’s (2008) account of clitic doubling in Dutch dialects, combined with Déchaine & Wiltschko’s (2002) decomposition of pronouns. I show that the clitic is of varying structural sizes across the varieties under discussion. This allows us to account of much of the variation with respect to the anti-agreement effect.

The upshots are as follows: first, I show that the question whether something is agreement or clitic doubling is also relevant for cases of (non-canonical) subject agreement. Second, I show that the anti-agreement effect can be reduced to independent properties of the languages under discussion, contra e.g. Baier (2018).

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Thursday 23 May – Isabel Oltra-Massuet

Speaker: Isabel Oltra-Massuet (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)
Title: Theories of argument structure and syntactic priming in comprehension
Date: Thursday 23 May
Venue: Lipsius 2.35(!)
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs (drinks follow at Cafe de Keyzer)


Different theories of argument structure attribute different syntactic configurations to intransitives like (1) and transitive structures like (2-6), so that they make different predictions about the processing of these sentence types and the priming relations between them.

(1) Unergative The dog barked in a quiet park at night.
(2) Cognate The man dozed a restful doze on the train.
(3) Creation The cook baked a carrot cake with spelt flour.
(4) Location/Locatum The girl saddled a wild horse in the farm.
(5) Strong transitives The athlete ignored a slight niggle in his knee.
(6) With-Small Clause The worker loaded a rail wagon with hay.

In this talk, I will first review the syntactic structures attributed to (1)-(6) in two competing theoretical approaches to argument structure, (i) Hale & Keyser’s (1993, 2002) approach as developed in Mateu (2002), Acedo-Matellán (2010) and Acedo-Matellán & Mateu (2011, 2013) [AM&M], and (ii) Marantz’s (2005, 2011) [M], as well as their different claims with respect to syntactic priming. Then, I will report the results of a behavioral experiment, a self-paced reading language comprehension study on structural priming. Finally, I will discuss the development of this experiment into an ongoing MEG experiment.

Both experiments are the result of my collaboration with researchers at the Neuroscience of Language Lab – New York University Abu Dhabi.



Acedo-Matellán, V. 2010. Argument Structure and the Syntax-Morphology Interface. A Case Study in Latin and Other Languages. UB, PhD Thesis. Acedo-Matellán, V. & Mateu, J. 2013. Satellite-framed Latin vs. verb-framed Romance: a syntactic approach. Probus 25, 227-265. Hale, K. & Keyser, S. J. 1993. On argument structure and the lexical expression of syntactic relations. The view from Building, 20, 53-109. Hale, K. & Keyser, S. J. 2002. Prolegomenon to a theory of argument structure. MIT Press. Mateu, J. 2002. Argument Structure. Relational Construal at the Syntax-Semantics Interface. UAB, PhD Thesis. Marantz, A. 2005. Objects out of the lexicon: Objects as events. MIT, Ms. Marantz, A. 2011. Syntactic approaches to argument structure without incorporation. Talk presented at the Workshop Structuring the argument, Structures Formelles du Langage UMR 7023 Paris 8/CNRS, Paris, 5-7 September.

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Thursday 25 April – Loes Koring

Speaker: Loes Koring (Leiden university)
Title: Disjointess in Language Acquisition
Date: Thursday 25 April
Venue: Lipsius 2.35(!)
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs (drinks follow at Cafe de Keyzer)

A word like ‘somebody’ introduces a novel referent to discourse. Adult speakers of English typically accept (1) in a context in which the person who brought wine is different from the one who brought beer.

(1)          Somebody brought wine and somebody brought beer to the party.

The disjointness in reference in (1) does not follow from the semantics of the existentially quantified argument, but rather from an implicature of disjointness. Results from an experiment with 3- to 5-year-old English-speaking children show that children have no difficulty deriving disjointness in sentences like (1). Results from two more experiments demonstrate that children do have difficulty, however, deriving the disjointness implicature when the existentially quantified argument is left implicit. This is the case in short verbal passives as in (2).

(2)          The girl is being painted.

Verbal passives involve existential quantification of the external argument, giving rise to an implicature of disjointness, like in (1). As a result, (2) is not compatible with a reflexive event in which the girl painted herself. In contrast to adults, 3-year-olds accept (2) as a description of a reflexive event. I will discuss these results as well as the implications for the syntax of adjectival passives.

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Thursday 04 April – Jenneke van der Wal

Speaker: Jenneke van der Wal (Leiden university)
Title: Gender on n in Bantu DP structure: from root-derived nominals to locatives (a joint work with Zuzanna Fuchs)
Date: Thursday 04 April
Venue: Van Eyckhof 2/006
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs (drinks follow at Cafe de Keyzer)

Grammatical gender is a noun-categorizing feature that is not interpretable and largely arbitrary. Big questions are where this gender information is stored (in the lexicon, Num, Gen, or n) and whether this varies crosslinguistically. In this talk we test the proposal that gender is universally on n (Kramer 2015, following Kihm 2005 and Ferrari 2005, among others) by establishing the parameters of variation across a range of Bantu languages. We show in a DM account how gender on n can account for the morphosyntactic properties of noun classes, also in derived nominals (deverbal, diminutive, and locative), and how a structural difference between diminutives and locatives has potential consequences for our thinking about the reference.

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