Masha at Georgetown Morphosyntax Workshop

April 21, Maria Polinsky asks "How do I know I am in the right field?" at the GU Morphosyntax Workshop.

Masha's paper starts by examining the relationship between two verb-initial orders, VSO and VOS, in the Polynesian language Tongan. In comparing two possible derivations of VOS, it shows that the analysis of VOS as derived from VSO via A-scrambling is untenable. Instead, it argues for an alternative analysis according to which Tongan VOS is a structure with a base-generated righthand topic. In principle such a derivation can be achieved by different mechanisms; the paper compares several analyses leading to the appearance of a righthand topic and demonstrates that the analysis in terms of distributed (scattered) deletion is best in capturing the facts of Tongan. On a theoretical level, Masha offers new arguments against rightward movement as possible operations in syntax, thus arguing for a more austere syntactic model. On a methodological level, she proposes to rely on the combination of segmental and prosodic evidence in support of a particular account and considers new ways of adducing prosodic facts in support of syntactic analyses.