WhenNovember 02, 2018 11:30 AM - 01:20 PM
WhereHarper Memorial Library, Room 141
Event Websitehttps://voices.uchicago.edu/morphologyandsyntax/
Contact InformationLinguistics Department
DescriptionMichelle Yuan (UChicago)

Some new insights into Inuktitut morphosyntax, as revealed through a particular existential construction

This talk provides a preliminary investigation of the morphosyntax of an under-studied type of existential in Inuktitut:

pingasu-nik anguti-nik tikit-tu-qaq-tuq
three-MOD.PL man-MOD.PL arrive-PTCP-have-3SG.S
'Three men arrived.' / 'There arrived three men.'

In this construction, the pivot "three men" is marked with MOD ("modalis" ~ oblique) case, phi-agreement is invariant 3SG (i.e. does not cross-reference the plural NP), and the verbal predicate is a participle that is incorporated into the verb -qaq 'have.'

I provide an analysis of this construction, and show that the components of the analysis have deeper ramifications for various aspects of Inuktitut morphosyntax, ranging from case and nominal licensing to polysynthetic word formation. In particular:

1. The pivot and the participle comprise a pseudo-relative in the sense of Cinque (1995), a.o., i.e. a subject and small clause predicate. Evidence that the participle is not a modifier or adjunct comes from the broader profile of noun incorporation in Inuktitut, which systematically excludes the incorporation of modifiers/adjuncts (Yuan 2018).

2. 3SG subject agreement is not default agreement, but rather cross-references an expletive pro. This both reveals an EPP condition in Inuktitut, and defends the existence of null expletive elements (contra e.g. Holmberg 2005).

3. Building on 2., MOD case is assigned to the pivot via a countercyclic Last Resort Case-insertion process, revealing Case Filter-esque licensing conditions on nouns. Evidence for this comes from hitherto unnoticed case/agreement alternations on the pivot, which I argue to reflect optionality between Merge vs. Move to the EPP position (cf. McCloskey 2014): Merge of the expletive or Move of the pivot itself.

The Morphology & Syntax Workshop at the University of Chicago facilitates the dissertation-writing process and creates opportunities for students, faculty, and visitors to debate cutting-edge research relevant to a significant number of people in the Linguistics Department, as well as others whose research and interest involve the morphological and syntactic structure of languages. The Workshop continues discussions on the variety of work that has been previously presented in the Morphology Reading Group and the Syntax Reading Group, which has included contemporary theoretical work, novel fieldwork data collected by researchers in the Linguistics Department, digital archives and computational tools, and experimental research in progress; it also aims to further the professional development and research of graduate students by advancing their exposure to and experience in these core areas of linguistics.

If you’d like to present work at a meeting, or have other questions, please contact the student coordinator: Laura Stigliano.
CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Workshops
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