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Brown bag lunch (Nov 2012)

When Nov 21, 2012
from 01:15 PM to 02:15 PM
Where Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, Room 7
Contact Name
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Would you like an opportunity to network and to present your research informally to colleagues in other departments? This is the first of a series of "brown bag" lunches and poster sessions for language scientists at Mill Lane Lecture Rooms. Tea and coffee provided, but please bring your lunch.brown bag


The rise and fall of agreement in the Welsh pronominal system David Willis (DTAL)

This poster reports on the work of the Syntactic Atlas of Welsh Dialects, a project which establishes the current geographical and social distributions of syntactic variants in present-day Welsh, and uses this information to investigate the mechanisms by which new syntactic forms are innovated and diffuse. As a case study, it focuses on the interaction between pronouns and agreement. A new second-person pronoun 'you' (chdi for earlier/southern ti) arose in the northwest of Wales in the nineteenth century. Initially it appeared only in 'strong' positions not associated with an agreeing verb or preposition (e.g. sentence-initial focus position). Correspondingly, this is the position where the Atlas has found it to be geographically most widespread today. It has been spreading to new environments over the past hundred years or so, but has reached a smaller geographical extent in each of these environments. I argue that, initially, this pronoun spread to new environments because new verbal forms which agreed with it were created by speakers analogically; however, more recently, the spread has been due to a reorganisation of the agreement system, such that verbs and prepositions no longer show full agreement and are therefore defined as 'strong' environments.

Click here to download the poster.


Contextually conditioned zero spell-out of the Basque locative Georg Höhn (DTAL)

Basque, a non-Indoeuropean language spoken in southwestern Europe, has an extensive case system (around 12 cases) involving various so called "adverbial cases" (e.g. etxe-an HOUSE-LOC "in the house") in addition to the grammatical cases (absolutive, ergative, dative, genitive). Traditionally, these cases are organised in two separate paradigms to capture differences in the morphosyntactic behaviour of two classes of word forms.

I suggest treating these paradigms as artifacts of the idiosyncratic behaviour of two morphemes (the locative and the definite article) - when they are sufficiently "close" to each other, they can prevent each other's realisation. This analysis is based on a specific theory about the size of the pieces of syntactic structure within which morphosyntactic units can influence each other (Embick 2010). Furthermore, it supports the hypothesis that human grammar does not need to make use of paradigms (lists of related word forms), and lends credence to the idea that they are not stored as such in the brain.

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