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About the Department of Linguistics:

Founded in the mid-1930's, the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago is the oldest linguistics department in the United States.

We are theory-oriented with a deep empirical interest in languages. One of the outstanding characteristics of this department is our commitment to a wide range of approaches to the study of language. Interdisciplinary, interdepartmental study is encouraged, and students regularly work with faculty in several other departments.

Graduate students are expected to become active researchers as soon as possible after their arrival here. Many students come with strong undergraduate training in linguistics, or with a Master's degree; others come with strong training in fields such as philosophy, mathematics, or a particular language or language group.

The faculty are involved in synchronic and diachronic research on languages from around the world. These varied interests are reflected in the range of topics of the dissertations that have been written in the Department.



Congratulations to Katie Franich who has accepted a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware! She will be joining them this coming Fall.

Congratulations to Emily Hanink who has just accepted a position as postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Manchester!

Lenore Grenoble has been awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for the project, Living the Good Life? Language Vitality, Urbanization, and Well-Being in the Arctic. Congratulations, Lenore!



Syntax Job Talk:

Please join us for Erik Zyman's job talk tomorrow, Tuesday June 5 at 3:30pm in Harper 130. There will be a reception in the department after the talk.


On the Timing of Adjunction
Erik Zyman · UC Santa Cruz

A crucial task for syntactic theory is to determine what syntactic operations are made available by the human capacity for language, what their properties are, and why they have the properties they do. This talk aims to bring us closer to that goal by pushing forward our understanding of adjunction. Lebeaux (1991) and others argue (controversially) that adjuncts can merge into syntactic structures late. Here, I provide a new argument for, as well as a new analysis of, late adjunction. The English adverb exactly (or precisely) can adjoin to a wh-phrase, and wh-movement can affect either the whole adjunction structure (What exactly is it for?) or only the host (What is it for exactly?) (cf. Urban 1999). This type of adjunction structure (WH + exactly) can be generated VP-internally, but surprisingly—and despite surface appearances—exactly cannot be stranded VP-internally (by movement of the adjunction host alone). I argue that the seemingly strange and intricate restrictions on exactly-stranding receive a principled explanation if adjuncts merge late (Lebeaux 1991), obligatorily (Stepanov 2001), in every phase. More specifically, all adjunction within a phase immediately precedes spellout of the phase head's complement. A surprisingly wide array of predictions of this analysis are argued to be correct.

The larger picture that emerges is one in which the syntax fundamentally prioritizes satisfying featural requirements imposed by lexical items, and it is for this reason that it waits until the last possible moment (within each phasal subderivation) to merge in the "peripheral" or "inessential" elements (adjuncts).