Colloquium Spring 2018


University of Arizona

LING 495A/ 595A – Linguistics Department Colloquium

Spring 2018

Organizer:      Masha Fedzechkina & Andy Wedel

Schedule:      Fridays, 3:00pm – 4:30pm in Communication 311


January 12 Joseph Edmonds (Palacky University)

TITLE: The historical source of the English voiced sibilant plural -z


Very early in Middle English, texts especially in the North and East tend to use an orthographic suffix –(e)s for noun plurals, In Southern and Western texts the plural suffix -(e)n of Old English weak declension at first spreads, but then eventually also yields to –(e)s. It is shown here that on phonological and phonetic grounds this –(e)s, which remains the productive plural suffix in Modern English, must, as a vocabulary item, be lexically specified as +VOICE; it is not voiced by any progressive assimilation process. Rather, its devoicing is due to a cross-linguistic phonetic principle that not specified for direction.

The source of this underlying voiced sibilant –z, completely absent in Old English, is to be found in the genealogical ancestor of Middle English, Proto-Scandinavian, whose plural in non-neuter declensions is precisely this segment (Haugen 1982). The present essay argues that this form was an integral part of the Norse brought to England by the earliest Scandinavian settlers in the 9th c. and is unambiguously reflected in the runic evidence in that language. In all likelihood, the later change of this –z to palatalized –ř and later –r, completed in the 12th c. on the Mainland, failed to spread to the Anglicized Norse of England due to sociolinguistic factors akin to those set out in the classic paper of Labov (1963).


January 12  SPECIAL TALK (9:30, Room TBD) Ludmila Veselovska (Department of English and American Studies, Palacky University)

TITLE: Subject Predicate Agreement in Czech


In my talk I will introduce data from the Czech subject-predicate agreement system, concentrating on examples of apparent mismatches. I show that even the more complex feature mismatches are not random but follow a rather clear pattern. To explain those patterns I propose that the morphology of subject predicate agreement is to be described as the result of an "analytic" syntactic process, i.e. as reflecting not one but multiple (minimally two) local relations. To argue for such an analysis, I will show that there are plausibly at least two domains inside the subject DP (at the same time I provide a summary of arguments from Czech in favor of the Universal DP Hypothesis). Then I will contrast quite distinct characteristics of two Czech verbal forms and claim that the distinctions reflect their distinct positions in the verbal projection. Conflating the analysis of a multi-layered DP/NP with the multi-layered TP/VP I will demonstrate that the subject predicate agreement systematically reflects (i) a separate lower level agreement in the domains of NP - VP and (ii) a higher level (functional) agreement in the domain of DP - TP. The talk will illustrate and analyze a large amount of Czech data using standard categorial labels. Apart from short discussion of several competing analyses, the discussion will not depend on any more specific theoretical framework.




January 26 Melissa Baese-Berk (Department of Linguistics, University of Oregon)








February 16 NO COLLOQUIUM 


March 2 Iva Ivanova (Department of Psychology, University of Texas at El Paso)

TITLE: What it takes to speak two languages

ABSTRACT: Speaking seems effortless to most, yet is extremely complex. Even the simplest utterance involves compiling a message to communicate, computing a grammatical structure, selecting the words that best express the message, and retrieving the sounds that make those words up. Bilingual speakers face additional complexities: they have more words to select from (across their two languages), they need more effort to retrieve non-dominant language words, and they need to avoid wrong-language slips of the tongue, or else they may not be understood. In this talk, I will discuss findings relevant to how bilingual speakers select the words they need, and what help they get in the process: Language control mechanisms help prioritize non-dominant-language production, internal monitoring mechanisms help detect wrong-language intrusions, and reusing the words of one’s conversational partner (a phenomenon known as alignment) eases the complexity of word choice.




March 23 Stephanie Shi (Department of Cognitive & Information Sciences, University of California, Merced)




March 30 Daniel Gutzmann (Institute of Germanic Language & Literature, University of Cologne)

TITLE: The dog peed on the damn couch! On the syntax and semantics of expressive adjectives.

ABSTRACT: Expressive adjectives(EAs) received a lot of attention in the semantic literature, which however treated their syntax mostly just like that of ordinary descriptive adjective. However, as I show in this talk, EAs differ in many and sometime puzzling aspects from descriptive ones. They cannot be modified or carry degree morphology, for instance. Most crucially, they exhibit interesting compositional behavior since they can be interpreted in a position different then they appear. Arguing against a purely pragmatic approach, both experimentally and conceptually, I propose a syntactic solution for the constraints in the semantic interpretation of EAs that builds on the assumption that expressivity is a syntactic feature, on par with features like tense or number. I develop an (upwards) agreement-based analysis according to which the expressive content of an EAs is introduced by an uninterpretable expressivity feature which agrees with a corresponding interpretable feature at some higher node. This not only gets the restrictions about where EAs can be interpreted right, but can also derive a lot of their special behavior and leads to direct mapping between syntactic structure and semantic interpretation.




April 13 Daphna Heller (Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto)