LING 46000 Seminar: Syntax

This seminar will deal with cross-linguistic variation in agreement phenomena, where the features of an argument are tracked by some other element(s) in the clause (e.g. the verb). In particular, we will focus on the kind of factors that shape agreement patterns across languages. We will also consider more typologically unusual agreement phenomena such as hierarchy effects, closest conjunct agreement, non-canonical agreement targets and switch reference. The central goal is to understand how variation in the realization of agreement can shape our assumptions about the core syntactic operation, Agree.


Andrew Murphy -- Autumn 2020



This course is an advanced graduate seminar in theoretical syntax. Through readings from the primary research literature, we will investigate the nature and properties of the elementary syntactic operation Merge, as well as the related question of precisely how it should be formalized. We will also explore some pre-Merge approaches to phrase structure, with the aim of determining how the insights emerging from them should be understood in today’s theoretical context.


Erik Zyman -- Winter 2021


Word order and the syntax-semantics/pragmatics interface: A comparative analysis of Basque, Spanish, and English

The goal of this course is two-fold. On the one hand, it is designed to offer a complete picture of some of the major grammatical properties of Basque, a non Indo-European minority (and typologically isolated) language (around 750 thousand speakers) which is spoken in a small territory, split on both sides of the western border between France and Spain. On the other hand, we will discuss and offer an analysis of a set of specific properties of Basque related to word order and the syntax semantics/pragmatics interface and put them into a broader perspective on the basis of a comparative analysis with other languages, especially Spanish and English. We will focus on three major theoretical issues — focalization, interrogative sentences and negation— as well as the interactions between them. We will present the major phonological, morphosyntactic and semantic/pragmatic properties exhibited by the structures under analysis, discuss previous approaches in the literature, and offer new alternative analyses.


Myriam Uribe-Etxebarria -- Spring 2021