Tag Archives: UICTiL

UIC TiL: Marcel den-Dikken

Greetings everyone!

Next Monday April 23th Marcel den-Dikken from CUNY will be giving a talk at UIC Talks in Linguistics (UIC TiL) entitled ‘Of orphans and twins: Accounting for some peculiar patterns in code-switching’ (see abstract below).

The talk will take place in University Hall 1501 at 3 pm, and as always, light snackswill be provided.

Of orphans and twins: Accounting for some peculiar patterns in code-switching

González-Vilbazo & López (2012) note that in Spanish/German code-switching (CS) a switch at v from a Spanish light verb (inserted in v) to a VP lexified by German vocabulary items leads VO order thanks to the fact that the Spanish v dictates the syntax of the vP (see (1a), analysed as in (1b)). But they also point out that there are speakers for whom the Spanish v=hacer can be followed by a German VP with (German) OV order (as in (2a)). They argue that constructions of the type in (2a) involve what they call an ‘orphan’: a chunk of structure that is not integrated with the rest of the structure of the clause in the regular fashion. The analysis for (2a) that they propose is schematised in (2b), a structure in which there are two vPs, one from Spanish (spelled out as hizo) and the other from German (which is silent); it is the German v that takes the overt VP as its complement, and which causes the VP to be spelled out with (German) OV order.

(1) a.  Juan hizo verkaufen die Bücher Juan did sell the books
‘Juan sold the books’
b. [vP vSp=hizo [VP verkaufen die Bücher]]

(2) a.  Juan hizo die Bücher verkaufen Juan did the books sell
‘Juan sold the books’

       b. [vP vSp=hizo (…)] [vP [VP verkaufen die Bücher] vGe=i]]

González-Vilbazo & López point out that CS constructions with ‘orphans’ such as (2a) behave differently from run-of-the-mill Sp/Ge CS constructions such as (1a) with respect to a number of syntactic properties, including extraction (Worüber has hecho {Tlesen ein Buch/*ein Buch lesen}? ‘about what have you read a book’) and anaphoric dependencies (Juan se ha hecho {Tsehen sich selbst im Spiegel/*sich selbst im Spiegel sehen} ‘Juan saw himself in the mirror’). The ‘orphan’ status of the second vP in (2b) straightfor- wardly explains the fact that nothing can be extracted out of it. But as it stands, the proposal in (2b) leaves two things unexplained: (a) why the object of the OV-VP cannot be anaphorically bound to the subject of the clause, and (b) how the ‘orphan’ relates to the ‘(…)’ in the complement of the non-orphaned v, and what the nature of ‘(…)’ might be.

The problem with (a) is that, since the ‘orphaned’ constituent must be a vP in order for the German v to be able to dictate OV order inside it, and since vP is the locus of base-generation of the external argu- ment, it ought to be possible for the ‘orphaned’ vP in (2b) to have a (null) subject of its own, coreferential with the subject of the clause; an anaphor inside VP should then be able to be locally bound by the null external argument of the ‘orphaned’ vP, and binding should succeed. We will want to make sure that, even though the ‘orphaned’ constituent must indeed be a vP (for word-order purposes), it cannot house an instance of the external argument.

I propose to ensure this by analysing the ‘orphan’ as an asyndetic specifier of the first vP, in a covert coordination structure of the type proposed in work by Koster (2000 et passim). This is a case of asyndetic coordination at the level of vP minus the external argument, which is merged outside the coordinate structure, and introduced by a relator that has the shared external argument as its specifier and the asyndetic coordinat- ion (annotated as ‘:P’, following Koster) as its complement, as in (3).

(3) [RP Juan [RELATOR [:P [vP1 vSp=hizo [VP ec]] [: [vP2 [VP die Bücher verkaufen] vGe=i]]]]]

Coordination/asyndetic specification must be at the level of vP because coordination of acategorial constituents (‘VP’) is impossible; moreover, vP must be present in the second conjunct in order to case- license the object of the German verb. But there is no need to introduce the external argument inside the individual conjuncts: having it be introduced by a relator outside the coordination is derivationally simpler because it involves fewer instances of External Merge (the external argument is merged just once, not twice) and it avoids Across-the-Board extraction of the external argument from the two conjuncts in parallel. (3) is thus the most economical structure for the ‘orphan’ construction — and moreover, it gives the ‘orphan’ an important function: it serves to specify the contents of the empty VP in the first conjunct.

An elliptical VP in the first conjunct thus fills in the ‘(…)’ in the structure in (2b). It must be an empty category because a multi-dominance approach to ‘orphan’ constructions is impossible: having the VP dominating die Bücher verkaufen attached simultaneously to the empty German v and to the Spanish v spelled out as hizo would impose irresolvably conflicting word-order demands upon the VP: since VP would serve simultaneously as the complement of a German and a Spanish v, the object inside VP would have to simul- taneously precede and follow the verb, which is of course impossible. For this kind of Right Node Raising, therefore, an analysis in terms of multi-dominance is out of the question.

Represented this way, the ‘orphan’ construction becomes an instance of a much broader pattern observed in CS constructions: so-called doubling. (2a) is in effectively a doubling construction: the v+VP part of the structure occurs twice, and v is spelled out in both conjuncts — albeit as a null morpheme in the second conjunct, which makes (2a) hard to recognise as a doubling construction. More readily recognisable doubling constructions are utterances such as those in (4), from English/Tamil CS (taken from Sankoff et al. 1990:93).

(4) a.  verb doubling
they gave me a research grant ko`utaa
they gave me a research grant gave.3.PL.PAST ‘they gave me a research grant’

       b.  auxiliary+verb doubling
            I was talking to oru orutanoo`a peesin`u iruntein
            I was talking to one person talk.CONT be.1.SG.PAST ‘I was talking to a person’

       c.  complementiser doubling
just because avaa innoru colour and race engindratunaale just because they different colour and race of-because
‘just because they are of a different colour and race’

I analyse all cases of doubling in CS as involving asyndetic specification, with the ‘shared’ constituent sandwiched between the doublets being the asyndetic specifier of an elliptical constituent in the first conjunct (as in (3)).

Doubling is by no means confined to CS — hence is not a ‘CS-specific’ phenomenon that would justify a separate ‘grammar of CS’. Doubling is found in utterances of monolingual speakers as well. An example occasionally discussed in the literature is complementiser doubling in sentences of the type in (5a) (from Spanish) and (5b) (from Dutch). These constructions are sometimes treated as cases of CP recursion or CP–TopP structures (the latter with a Top-head spelled out as a complementiser) in a strictly right- branching structure. I will present evidence, however, for the conclusion that these are, just like the construc- tions reviewed above, instances of asyndetic specification, with an elliptical TP in the first conjunct. Spanish and Dutch complementiser doubling in addition makes a case for the conclusion that the elliptical TP is a base-generated empty category (ec in (3)), not a PF-deleted full-fledged TP: the sandwiched topic must be base-generated in situ, and can never be followed (in a non-doubling construction) by a non-elliptical TP.

 (5) a.  dice que dinero que no tenía
            says that money that not had
            ‘(s)he says that (s)he didn’t have money’
        b. ik denk dat van brood alleen dat je daarvan niet kunt leven I think that of bread alone that you thereof not can live ‘I think that one can’t live on bread alone’
For more information, contact: Daniel Vergara, Sergio Ramos, or Bernie Issa. Feel free to keep up with past and present talks via the UIC TiL website.

UIC TiL: Brady Clark

UIC Talks in Linguistics invite you to the next TiL this Friday the 13th.

Brady Clark from Northwester will be leading the talk entitled ‘Syntactic theory and the evolution of syntax’

As always, the talk will take place at UH 1750 at 3pm.

Again, this Friday April 13 at 3pm.

Here is an abstract of the talk,

Brady Clark
Northwestern University

Contemporary work on the evolution of syntax can be roughly divided into
two perspectives, the incremental view and the saltational view. The
incremental view claims that the evolution of syntax involved multiple
stages between the noncombinatorial communication system of our last
common ancestor with chimpanzees and full-blown modern human syntax. The
saltational view claims that syntax was the result of just a single
evolutionary development. What is the relationship between contemporary
theories of syntax and these two perspectives on the evolution of syntax?
Jackendoff (2010) argues that there is a dependency between theories of
language and theories of language evolution: “Your theory of language
evolution depends on your theory of language.” For example, he claims that
most work within the Minimalist Program (for background, Chomsky 1995) is
forced to the saltational view. My focus in this talk is the evolution of
syntax, and, in particular, the relation between syntactic theory and
perspectives on the evolution of syntax. I argue that there is not a
simple dependency relation between theories of syntax and theories of
syntactic evolution. The parallel architecture (Jackendoff 2002) is
consistent with a saltational theory of syntactic evolution. The
architecture assumed in most minimalist work is compatible with an
incremental theory.

See you there!

UIC TiL: Harriet Wood Bowden

Greetings everyone!

Dr. Harriet Wood Bowden from the University of
Tennessee will be giving a talk entitled “Native-like brain processing of
L2 in college learners: Evidence from event-related potentials (ERPs)”.
See abstract below.

The talk will take place in University Hall 1750 at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday April 4th, 2012.

We hope to see everyone there!


Is it possible to attain native-like brain processing of a late-learned
second language (L2) as a typical college-level language learner? What is
the trajectory of lexical and grammatical neurocognitive processing in
such learners? I will present results from a study designed to shed light
on these questions. This study used event-related potentials (ERPs) to
examine the neurocognition of lexical and grammatical processing of L2
Spanish in two groups of college-level learners, as compared to native
(L1) Spanish speakers. The two L2 groups represented the beginning and
end-points of college-level learners. Results suggest that not only
experience and proficiency but also the type of grammatical structure in
question influence the attainment of native-like processing.Native-like
brain processing of L2 in college learners: Evidence from event-related
potentials (ERPs)

For more information, contact: Daniel Vergara (dverga3@uic.edu), Sergio
Ramos (sramos@uic.edu) or Bernie Issa (issa2@uic.edu).

UIC TiL: Ji Young Shim

Join us at our next Talks in Linguistics (TiL)!

This Friday March 30th Ji Young Shim from the CUNY graduate center will be giving a talk entitled ‘A Minimalist Account of Word Order Variation in Code-switching’.

When: Friday March 30th at 3pm

Where: University Hall (601 S. Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607) 1750

We hope to see you there!

For more information, contact: Daniel Vergara (dverga3@uic.edu), Sergio
Ramos (sramos@uic.edu) or Bernie Issa (issa2@uic.edu).

Here is an abstract from his work.

A Minimalist Account of Word Order Variation in Code-switching
Ji Young Shim; CUNY Graduate Center

Under the assumption that monolingual and bilingual grammars are subject
to the same principles, the present study aims to provide a principled
account of word order variation in code-switching (CS). Cross-linguistic
CS data show that not only can a switch occur between languages with
different canonical word orders, such as an OV language (e.g., Japanese,
Korean) and a VO language (e.g., English), but the internal order of a
code-switched constituent may also vary, exhibiting either order of the
two languages involved in CS. One immediate question arises as to how
these different word orders are distributed and derived. The present study
employs three different experimental tasks, which are tested against
Korean-English and Japanese-English bilingual speakers’ introspective
judgments of the CS patterns that are presented to them in the form of a
The statistical results from 34 Korean-English bilinguals show that both
the distinction between light and heavy verbs within a code-switched
constituent and the difference between literal and non-literal/idiomatic
meaning of the phrase play a role to derive different word orders in CS,
which reveals that syntax alone cannot account for the various word order
patterns in CS, but both syntax (particularly, the syntax of light verbs,
which differs from language to language) and meaning (the semantic
compositionality of a phrase) contribute to OV-VO variation in CS. We also
found that there is a correlation between the preferred word order and the
syntactic flexibility of a code-switched constituent.
Based on the findings of the tests, the study proposes a syntactic account
of OV and VO derivation in Korean-English and Japanese-English CS in the
framework of Minimalism. The present talk focuses on Korean-English CS
data, and the findings from a small set of Japanese-English CS tests will
be also discussed for the purpose of comparison.

UIC TiL: Kim Potowski

This Friday, April 9th, UIC’s very own Kim Potowski will be presenting a talk entitled, “Intrafamilial dialect contact: The Spanish of MexiRicans in Chicago.”

Join us at 3 PM in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60607) for the talk and as usual light refreshments will be provided.

Kim Potowski (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Intrafamilial dialect contact: The Spanish of MexiRicans in Chicago

When speakers of different dialects share social space, interact frequently, and wish to gain each other’s approval or show solidarity, there exists the very strong possibility that they will adopt features from each other’s dialect. This process is known as accommodation, and when individual accommodations spread through a speech community over a long term, a common result is dialect mixing. Dialect mixing has received considerable attention in English (Trudgill 1986; Schneider 2003; Bauer 1994; Kerswill 2002) and in some parts of the Spanish-speaking world. However, there is a gap in our knowledge of Spanish dialect contact in the United States, which at approximately 30 million speakers is the fifth largest Spanish-speaking nation and the most dialectally diverse.

In addition, there is an increasingly common and particularly interesting case of Spanish dialect contact in the U.S.: What does a child’s Spanish look like when members of two different ethnolinguistic groups – a Mexican and a Puerto Rican, for example – marry and each speak their own Spanish dialect in the home? This situation, referred to as intrafamilial dialect contact, falls within Hazen’s (2002) call for research on the family as an intermediate grouping between the individual and the speech community. I will present a brief summary of general principles of dialect contact before examining studies of Spanish dialect contact in the U.S. and then focusing on cases of intrafamilial dialect contact in Chicago.

UIC TiL: Bryan Koronkiewicz & Tara Toscano

This Friday, March 19th, we’ll be having our semesterly student session of UIC Talks in Linguistics. Bryan Koronkiewicz will present a talk entitled, “Exceptional Hiatuses in Spanish: An Extension of Cabré & Prieto (2006)” and Tara Toscano will be presenting a talk entitled, “The Strandability of Prepositions in Spanish-English Code-switching”

Join us at 3 PM in 1650 University Hall (601 S. Morgan St. Chicago, IL 60607) for some talks and refreshments.

Bryan Koronkiewicz (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Exceptional Hiatuses in Spanish: An Extension of Cabré & Prieto (2006)

In Spanish phonology, the syllabification of rising sonority vocoids predicts diphthongization. Yet in various dialects, with a variety of words, speakers favor the creation of a hiatus in such a context. For example, the word *piano* can be realized by Spanish-speakers either as the expected form [‘pja.no] or alternatively as [pi.’a.no]. The work of Hualde (1999, 2002) and Colina (1999) attests that word initiality, distance to stress, and morpheme boundaries all have strong effects on the realization of these so-called exceptional hiatuses. However, more recently these effects have been reexamined by Cabré & Prieto (2006) with dissimilar results, arguing that they are not as strong.

In this talk I will continue to explore the potential explanations for exceptional hiatuses. This current study recreates and expands the work of Cabré & Prieto (2006). Continuing their approach, Peninsular Spanish-speakers are tested on their tendency toward exceptional hiatuses, examining the specific parameters that may be influential. Furthermore, Mexican-Spanish-speakers are also tested to see if the effects are similar cross-dialectally.

Tara Toscano (University of Illinois at Chicago)
The Strandability of Prepositions in Spanish-English Code-switching

I have tested the acceptability of Preposition stranding in English-Spanish code- switching contexts by having sequential bilinguals perform a sentence judgment task. The term Preposition stranding (P-stranding) refers to an instance where the object of the preposition is extracted and the preposition is not pied-piped as shown in (1):

(1) Who did John talk [PP to[ t]]?

While P-stranding is found in some languages, it does not appear in others. P-stranding is quite common in English as shown in example (1). But in Spanish there is a lack of P-stranding:

(2) *Quién habló Juan  [PP con [ t]]?
Who   spoke John        with

Code-switching allows insights into the two grammars that are otherwise opaque in monolingual utterances. I hypothesized that the language of the preposition in code-switching would determine the acceptability of P-stranding regardless of the language of the DP or NP. I explored 2 hypotheses:

1. Spanish prepositions will not allow P-stranding in a code-switching context, as in (3c) and (3d), and English prepositions will, as in (3a) and (3b).

(3) a. Quién salió John with?
b. Quién did John leave with?
c. Who did John leave con?
d. Who salió John con?

2. The language of Tense (T), or more specifically little v, will determine the acceptability of P-stranding. English T will trigger P-stranding (see (3b) and (3c)) while Spanish T will prohibit it (see (3a) and (3d)).

No conclusions can be made regarding the element or layer of the structure that sanctions P-stranding because this phenomenon occurs in the Spanish dialect of the participants.

UIC TiL: David Pesetsky

This week we’re honored to have MIT’s David Pesetsky at UIC’s Talks in Linguistics.  His talk, entitled, “Islands, case and licensing: the neglected role of the attractor,” will take place at 3 PM on Friday, March 5th.  Please note that the location is in Grant Hall 304 (703 S. Morgan Street 60607).

David Pesetsky (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Islands, case and licensing: the neglected role of the attractor

In this talk, I focus on two justly celebrated syntactic proposals that nonetheless fall short of solving the full range of problems that one might expect them to:  (1) Case Theory as an explanation for the surface distribution of arguments; and (2) Phase theory as an explanation for island constraints on movement.  I argue that the right supplement to Case Theory simultaneously explains certain islands — so that Phase theory, at least, turns out to need neither supplement nor revision once Case Theory is properly supplemented and revised.

Case Theory has accounted successfully for a range of restrictions on nominal arguments not found with non-nominals, but fails to predict an array of restrictions with a similar flavor that make distinctions among the non-nominals.  In response to this observation, Pesetsky & Torrego (2006) have argued that case theory interacts with a distinct but closely related requirement that I will call here “Extended Licensing” — which restricts certain possibilities for clausal complementation that would otherwise be allowed by standard Case Theory.

The theory of Phases (Spellout Domains) — when embedded in a theory in which movement is motivated by the featural properties of an attractor — accounts for the necessity of successive-cyclicity. and predicts those island effects that can be attributed to the blocking of the phase-peripheral escape hatch by other material.  Nonetheless, at least two types of islands, clausal complements to N (one case of Ross’s CNPC) and subject position (Chomsky’s 1973 “Subject Condition”), have received no explanation in these terms, since normal escape routes through phase-edges appear to be available in both configurations.

I will argue that given the need for successive cyclicity imposed by Phase theory and the hypothesis that movement requires a featurally appropriate attractor, the CNPC and the Subject Condition turn out to reflect independently detectable constraints imposed by Extended Licensing theory on the distribution of the attractor itself.  One key argument for this proposal will come from hitherto unnoticed parallels between the distribution of phases whose head hosts successive-cyclic A-bar movement and phases that host A-bar movement that does not proceed further (such as embedded questions).

UIC TiL: Luis López

Join us tomorrow, February 19th, for another installment of UIC Talks in Linguistics.  Our own Luis López will be presenting a talk entitled, “Indefinite objects: Differential object marking, scrambling and choice functions.”

The talk will take place different time than usual, starting at 2pm in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan Street, Chicago, IL 60607).  Join us there for the talk and as always, light refreshments are provided.

Luis López (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Indefinite objects: Differential object marking, scrambling and choice functions

The polyvalent behavior of indefinites has always been a matter of curiosity among linguists. For instance, in (1), the indefinite object ‘a philosopher’ takes scope outside the conditional, suggesting that the scope of indefinites depends on a semantic operation rather than QR (Reinhart 1997, among many others). In (2) we do not know if Mary is looking for any individual that has the properties of being a secretary and speaking German or whether Mary is looking for a specific individual – known to Mary or to the speaker – who we happen to identify by using these properties:

(1) If Bert invites a philosopher, Lud will be angry.
(2) Mary is looking for a secretary that speaks German.

There have been three traditions that have approached the grammar of indefinites. The scholars working in Differential Object Marking (henceforth DOM, see Bossong 1985, Aissen 2003) have connected a piece of morphology
with a specific interpretation. Other linguists (Diesing 1992 in particular) have linked specificity with scrambling. Finally, Reinhart (1997) and many others have argued that indefinite DPs obtain wide scope by means of choice
functions, implicitly denying any role for syntax. Of particular interest for our purposes are the proposals in Chung and Ladusaw (2004), according to which indefinite nominal phrases may combine by means of Restrict (simple
conjunction) or Satisfy (an operation that turns an indefinite object into a choice function variable.). Restrict leads to narrow scope while Satisfy allows a variety of scopes dependent on where the function variable is existentially closed.

In this paper I synthesize the three traditions. The gist of my proposal is shown as follows:

(3)  [vP EA v [aP Obj.dom a [VP V Obj]]]
Satisfy             Restrict

That is, DOM and wide scope of indefinites entail scrambling. The paper will substantiate this claim using data from Spanish, Hindi-Urdu and Persian (Farsi).

The main theoretical contribution of this research project is that it allows us to develop a more nuanced view of the syntax-semantics interface. Diesing and many others argued that syntactic positions are linked to semantic interpretations. I argue that syntactic configuration limits the range of possible modes of semantic composition, which eventually limits the range of possible semantic representations.

UIC TiL: Kenneth Konopka

Tomorrow, February 5th, we will have another session of UIC Talks in Linguistics from 3 PM to 5 PM in 1750 University Hall (601 S. Morgan Street 60607). This week we will have a talk from Kenneth Konopka of Northwestern University. As always, light refreshments will be served. The talk is entitled, “Vowels of Mexican Heritage English: Beyond the static.”

Kenneth Konnopka (Northwestern University)
Vowels of Mexican Heritage English: Beyond the static

Mexican Heritage English (MHE) speakers are first generation Mexican-Americans who are native speakers of English living in communities characterized by the general presence of the Spanish language. In this talk I compare the vowel structure of MHE to that of the regional Anglo dialect in the Albany Park community of Chicago. Analyses of vowel formant trajectories and durations provide evidence for a Spanish influence that is not captured in traditional static vowel plots.

The participants in the study comprise four groups: Anglo speakers of the regional dialect characterized by the Northern Cities Vowels (N=12F); MHE speakers who are life-long community residents with varying Spanish proficiency (N=14F); late learners of English (L2E) who are native Mexican Spanish speakers (N=12F); and native Mexican Spanish speakers (N=7F). Speakers from the first three groups were recorded responding in English to a variety of materials. From CVC wordlist productions eleven English vowels were analyzed. These vowels, from a range of consonantal contexts, were analyzed for duration and first and second formant values at .20, .50 and .80 of the duration. Mexican Spanish speakers were also recorded reading tokens from a Spanish wordlist for a corresponding analysis.

In this talk I will show how temporal cues reveal clear distinctions between the vowels of the regional dialect, MHE, and L2E. In addition, I will provide evidence from Spanish for the origins of these cues. I will discuss the resultant vowel structure of MHE and how it provides insight into the interaction of the two disparate vowel systems. In addition to their relevance for the study of language contact, we will see how features normally considered secondary in vowel production may provide a basis for systematically evaluating vowel structure resulting from language contact.

UIC TiL: Marina Teroukafi

Join us this Friday, January 22nd for TiL’s first talk of the semester: a talk by Marina Terkourafi from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Her talk is entitled, “What is said from different points of view” and will take place in 1750 University Hall (601 South Morgan Street 60607) at 3 PM.

Marina Terkourafi (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
What is said from different points of view

What is said as a theoretical notion was first proposed by Paul Grice in his William James lectures as a way of drawing the line between what a hearer would know upon hearing an utterance based on her knowledge of the language, and what she could further infer based on the fact that an utterance had been uttered in context. Understood as a distinction between truth-conditional and non truth-conditional content, the distinction between ‘what is said’ and ‘what is implicated’ has met with increasing skepticism over the years and with reactions ranging from reformulation (Bach 2001, Camp 2006) to rejection (Carston 1999, Jaszczolt 2005). In this talk, I go over theoretical and empirical arguments that support the need for a neo-Gricean, minimal notion of ‘what is said’.