Proceedings of the 35th Annual Penn Linguistics Colloquium

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 23
  • Publication
    The Information Structure of Subject Extraposition in Early New High German
    (2012-05-01) Light, Caitlin; Light, Caitlin
    This paper investigates the information-structural characteristics of extraposed subjects in Early New High German (ENHG). Based on new quantitative data from a parsed corpus of ENHG, I will argue that unlike objects, subjects in ENHG have two motivations for extraposing. First, subjects may extrapose in order to receive narrow focus, which is the pattern Bies (1996) has shown for object extraposition in ENHG. Secondly, however, subjects may extrapose in order to receive a default sentence accent, which is most visible in the case of presentational constructions. This motivation does not affect objects, which may achieve the same prosodic goal without having to extrapose.
  • Publication
    Redevelopment of a Morphological Class
    (2012-05-01) Fruehwald, Josef T; Fruehwald, Josef T
    Coronal stop deletion (or‚`TD Deletion‚`) is the paradigm sociolinguistic variable. It was first described in African American English (Labov et al., 1968) as a rule whereby word final /Ct/ and /Cd/ clusters simplify by deleting the coronal stop. It has since been found in many dialects and varieties of English. Aside from the very regular phonological and phonetic factors which condition whether TD Deletion applies, morphological structure also appears to have an effect. The three morphological categories of primary interest are (i) monomorphemes}, (ii) regular past tense verbs and (iii) semiweak past tense verbs. In almost every dialect studied, the order of morphological classes from least favoring deletion to most favoring deletion is as given in (1). (1) monomorphemes > semiweak > regular past tense In this paper, I will be focusing on the difference between semiweak and regular past tense. I will pursue a revised version of the analysis in Guy & Boyd (1990), casting it in terms of Competing Grammars and Distributed Morphology. Specifically, I will propose that the rate of phonological TD Deletion is the same for the regular past and the semiweak. What leads to higher TD Absence in the semiweak verbs is variable morphological absence of /t/, i.e., there is a competing morphological analysis where the past tense of keep is simply "kep", instead of "kept".
  • Publication
    Change in Prosody as an Alternative: Evidence from Acquisition
    (2012-05-01) Mykhaylyk, Roksolana; Mykhaylyk, Roksolana
    This study contributes to the issue of syntax-prosody-semantics interaction in child speech. It focuses on the prosodic realization of contextually-defined direct objects in a language allowing object scrambling. The empirical data are collected from 3-4-year-old children acquiring Ukrainian. The children’s speech samples were analyzed in order to find contrast between the prosody of sentences with various syntactic and semantic properties. The results show that child intonation is variable, but mostly predictable. The most evident contrast was detected for the structures with pronouns: when children failed to scramble pronouns, they still marked them prosodically by destressing. It can be concluded, then, that 3-4-year-old children are able to establish context relatedness for pronouns, and in order to mark their special status they can use one of two ‘options’ available in the grammar: syntactic movement or prosodic recontouring.
  • Publication
    Syntactic Positions of Bare NPs in Turkish: Some Implications from Aspect and Prosody
    (2012-05-01) Nagai, Miho; Özçelik, Öner; Nagai, Miho; Özçelik, Öner
    This paper proposes that internal arguments of verbs in Turkish do not uniformly occur in the complement position of the verb (contra e.g. Perlmutter 1978, 1989). We focus on syntactic positions of bare arguments in Turkish on the basis of aspectual (Aktionsart) properties of VPs (e.g. Vendler 1967) and prosodic structure. Looking at syntactic locations of low adverbs, we argue that bare internal arguments of Turkish achievements occur in SpecVP while those of accomplishments occur in the complement position of V.
  • Publication
    Semantic Effects on Pronouns and Reflexives in Picture-NPs: Similarities and Differences
    (2012-05-01) Kaiser, Elsi; Do, Monica; Kaiser, Elsi; Do, Monica
    Research on Binding Theory shows that the syntactically-conditioned complementarity normally exhibited by pronouns and reflexives breaks down in certain syntactic environments, including possessorless picture-NPs (e.g. picture of {her/herself}). We report two psycholinguistic experiments which investigate what kinds of factors influence how pronouns and reflexives in picture-NPs are interpreted, given that their antecedents are not determined by Binding Theory. The results show that the interpretation of pronouns and reflexives in picture-NPs is governed by multiple factors. On the one hand, we corroborated the results of prior work which found that pronouns and reflexives are subject to opposing syntactic and semantic biases (Kaiser et al. 2009). However, on other hand, we provide evidence of shared biases: Both pronouns and reflexives dislike referentially underspecified antecedents, namely the indefinite existential ‘someone’ and wh-expressions. This pattern seems to fit well with claims that both forms prefer to pick out the antecedent whose point-of-view is being represented (Kuno 1987, Tenny 2003), assuming that referentially underspecified antecedents are not good point-of-view anchors
  • Publication
    Using salience and hypothesis evaluation to learn object names in real time
    (2012-05-01) Stevens, Jon; Stevens, Jon
    This paper presents a computational model of word learning that has roots in experimental literature and learns in real time with high precision from a small amount of data. In addition to incorporating external cues a la Yu & Ballard 2007, we give the learner the ability to test specific highly probable semantic hypotheses against new data. Performance is comparable to that of a more complex model (Frank et al. 2009) and better than that of a similar model (Fazly et al. 2010) that does not utilize hypothesis evaluation.
  • Publication
    Ellipsis as Movement and Silence: Evidence from French
    (2012-05-01) Authier, Marc; Authier, Marc
    French allows ellipsis after a number of verbs that express priority or dynamic modality. This phenomenon is known as ‘modal ellipsis’ and, in the past ten years, its syntactic status has been hotly debated in the literature on Romance syntax in ways reminiscent of the controversy surrounding the proper syntactic treatment of English VP ellipsis and Sluicing that started with the early works of Ross (1967) and Sag (1976). What has been established so far with some degree of certainty is that unlike English VP-ellipsis, French modal ellipsis is ellipsis of a TP (Dagnac, 2010). Also established by Busquets and Denis (2001) is the fact that modal ellipsis allow syntactic extraction out of the elision site. This weighs heavily in favor of a PF-deletion approach because it suggests that the ellipsis site has inner structure and therefore provides an extraction site that would remain unavailable under a pro-form approach. In this paper, I explore a novel formulation of the licensing conditions on modal ellipsis that takes as a point of departure a suggestion by Johnson (2001) that English VP-Ellipsis should be derived by way of movement and that elided VPs stand in a topic position though they are not spelled out at PF. I argue that adopting a similar approach to French modal ellipsis correctly predicts (a) the class of French verbs that license modal ellipsis, (b) some novel grammaticality contrasts involving infinitival forms of these verbs, and (c) the fact that French does not have VP-Ellipsis and that English does not have modal ellipsis.
  • Publication
    Is There a Difference between ‘You’ and ‘I’? A Psycholinguistic Investigation of the Chinese Reflexive Ziji
    (2012-05-01) He, Xiao; Kaiser, Elsi; He, Xiao; Kaiser, Elsi
    We report two experiments examining first/second-person blocking effects on the Chinese long-distance reflexive ziji during on-line processing. Participants read sentences with varying matrix and embedded subjects (Exp1: 1st-person pronoun/3rd-person name; Exp2: 2nd-person pronoun/3rd-person name) and answered comprehension questions probing their interpretations of ziji. Work on English found that structurally inaccessible referents can cause competition at the reflexive, indicated by reading-time slowdowns (Badecker and Straub 2002). In Exp1, the 1st-person blocking condition (3rd-person matrix/1st-person embedded) exhibited slowdowns and a higher-than-expected rate of matrix-subject-interpretations, suggesting 1st-person blocking is not consistently effective. However, the subset of trials with effective blocking (local-antecedent interpretations) revealed no slowdowns. In Exp2, the 2nd-person blocking condition (3rd-person matrix/2nd-person embedded) showed consistent blocking and no significant slowdowns. Our results suggest that referents’ ability to compete depends not only on prominence (Badecker and Straub 2002) but also how it is blocked (person-feature vs. syntactic barrier). Building upon Brunyé et al.’s (2009) finding that 2nd-person pronouns are more effective at triggering perspective-taking than 1st-person pronouns, we suggest that the difference between first- and second- person blocking may be attributable to perspective taking: Identifying with the 2nd-person addressee leads comprehenders to more consistently interpret the reflexive as referring to the local 2nd-person subject, resulting in a consistent blocking effect.
  • Publication
    Syntax and Prosody in Kashaya Phrasal Accent
    (2012-05-01) Buckley, Eugene; Gluckman, John; Buckley, Eugene; Gluckman, John
    This paper explores the nature of prosodic phrasing in Kashaya, an endangered language of northern California, as diagnosed by the location of accent. Previous work has reported that iambic feet are constructed across prosodic phrases that can consist of multiple words, but there has been little research into how these p-phrases interact with syntactic constituency. We propose an alignment analysis in which the right edge of XP usually corresponds to the end of a p-phrase. But prosodic considerations, in particular an avoidance of phrase-final accent and a preference for a right-branching intonational phrase, can override the alignment of prosodic and syntactic constituency and sometimes leads to mismatches. An examination of a text corpus reveals general pressures against final accent, which can be avoided by accent suppression and leftward retraction as well as the choice of prosodic phrasing. Syllabification across a word boundary also encourages certain groupings in order to satisfy crisp edge-alignment of prosodic categories, showing a further influence of pure prosody rather than alignment with the syntactic edges.
  • Publication
    The Role of Negative and Positive Evidence in Adult Phonological Learning
    (2012-05-01) Finley, Sara; Finley, Sara
    One of the great mysteries of language development is how children acquire language so efficiently while adults are never able to reach the same level of proficiency. Adding to this mystery is that child learners rarely receive negative evidence regarding the nature of the grammatical structure of their language, but adults are more likely to receive and use such evidence (in classes, corrections, etc.) (Baker, 1979). The present study tests the role of negative evidence in adult language learners, who were exposed to an artificial grammar characterized by round vowel harmony, a phonological process whereby vowels agree in the feature round. Participants were exposed to either positive evidence only (Positive Evidence Condition), or both negative and positive evidence (Positive Evidence Condition). In two experiments, participants in the Positive Evidence Condition outperformed participants in the Negative Evidence Condition, specifically for test items tat measured extension of learned items to novel items. These results suggest that negative evidence may hinder adult grammatical rule learning.