Publications

Causal VVs in Mandarin

Alexander Williams

Many verbal predicates in Mandarin, called VVs, have two parts that can be separated by at most the markers of the positive and negative potential form, de and bu. This chapter surveys the interpretation and syntax of causal VVs, which imply a causal relation between the events of the first and second verb.

 

The role of morphology in phoneme prediction: Evidence from MEG

Allyson Ettinger, Tal Linzen, Alec Marantz

There is substantial neural evidence for the role of morphology (word-internal structure) in visual word recognition. We extend this work to auditory word recognition, drawing on recent evidence that phoneme prediction is central to this process. In a magnetoencephalography (MEG) study, we crossed morphological complexity (bruis-er vs. bourbon) with the predictability of the word ending (bourbon vs. burble). High prediction error (surprisal) led to increased auditory cortex activity. This effect was enhanced for morphologically complex words. Additionally, we calculated for each timepoint the surprisal corresponding to the phoneme perceived at that timepoint, as well as the cohort entropy, which quantifies ...

 

This paper examines the acquisition of noun classes in Tsez, looking in particular at the role of noun-internal distributional cues to class. We present a new corpus of child-directed Tsez speech, analyzing it to determine the proportion of nouns that children hear with this predictive information and how often this is heard in conjunction with overt noun class agreement information. Additionally we present an elicited production experiment that uncovers asymmetries in the classification of nouns with predictive features in the corpus and by children and adults. We show that children use noun-internal distributional information as a cue to noun class ...

 

On Recursion

Jeffrey Watumull, Marc D. Hauser, Ian G. Roberts, Norbert Hornstein

It is a truism that conceptual understanding of a hypothesis is required for its empirical investigation. However, the concept of recursion as articulated in the context of linguistic analysis has been perennially confused. Nowhere has this been more evident than in attempts to critique and extend Hauser et al.'s. (2002) articulation. These authors put forward the hypothesis that what is uniquely human and unique to the faculty of language—the faculty of language in the narrow sense (FLN)—is a recursive system that generates and maps syntactic objects to conceptual-intentional and sensory-motor systems. This thesis was based on the ...

 

Is she patting Katie? Constraints on pronominal reference in 30-month olds

Cynthia Lukyanenko, Anastacia Conroy, Jeffrey Lidz

In this study we investigate young children’s knowledge of syntactic constraints on noun phrase reference, by testing 30-month-olds’ interpretation of two types of transitive sentences. In a preferential looking task, we find that children prefer different interpretations for transitive sentences whose object NP is a name (e.g., She’s patting Katie) as compared with those whose object NP is a reflexive pronoun (e.g., She’s patting herself). They map the former onto an other- directed event (one girl patting another) and the latter onto a self-directed event (one girl patting her own head). These preferences are carried ...

 

No Fear of Commitment: Children’s Incremental Interpretation in English and Japanese Wh-Questions

Akira Omaki, Imogen Davidson-White, Takuya Goro, Jeffrey Lidz, Colin Phillips

Much work on child sentence processing has demonstrated that children are able to use various linguistic cues to incrementally resolve temporary syntactic ambiguities, but they fail to use syntactic or interpretability cues that arrive later in the sentence. The present study explores whether children incrementally resolve filler-gap dependencies, using Japanese and English ambiguous wh-questions of the form "Where did Lizzie tell someone that she was gonna catch butterflies?", in which one could answer either the telling location (main clause interpretation) or the butterfly– catching location (embedded clause interpretation). Three story-based experiments demonstrate two novel findings on children’s incremental interpretation ...

 

A role for the developing lexicon in phonetic category acquisition

Naomi Feldman, Thomas Griffiths, Sharon Goldwater, James Morgan

Infants segment words from fluent speech during the same period when they are learning phonetic categories, yet accounts of phonetic category acquisition typically ignore information about the words in which sounds appear. We use a Bayesian model to illustrate how feedback from segmented words might constrain phonetic category learning by providing information about which sounds occur together in words. Simulations demonstrate that word-level information can successfully disambiguate overlapping English vowel categories. Learning patterns in the model are shown to parallel human behavior from artificial language learning tasks. These findings point to a central role for the developing lexicon in phonetic ...

 
 

The psycholinguistics of ellipsis

Colin Phillips and Dan Parker

This article reviews studies that have used experimental methods from psycholinguistics to address questions about the representation of sentences involving ellipsis. Accounts of the structure of ellipsis can be classified based on three choice points in a decision tree. First: does the identity constraint between antecedents and ellipsis sites apply to syntactic or semantic representations? Second: does the ellipsis site contain a phonologically null copy of the structure of the antecedent, or does it contain a pronoun or pointer that lacks internal structure? Third: if there is unpronounced structure at the ellipsis site, does that structure participate in all syntactic ...

 

Epistemics and Attitudes

Pranav Anand, Valentine Hacquard

This paper investigates the distribution of epistemic modals in attitude contexts in three Romance languages, as well as their potential interaction with mood selection. We show that epistemics can appear in complements of attitudes of acceptance (Stalnaker 1984), but not desideratives or directives; in addition, emotive doxastics (hope, fear) and dubitatives (doubt) permit epistemic possibility modals, but not their necessity counterparts. We argue that the embedding differences across attitudes indicate that epistemics are sensitive to the type of attitude an attitude predicate reports. We show that this sensitivity can be derived by adopting two types of proposals from the literature ...

 

This paper argues that bare determiners, as in the sentence Many sat down, should be analyzed as involving the elision of a partitive phrase, as opposed to a noun phrase, as is commonly assumed (Lobeck 1991, 1995; Bernstein 1993; Panagiotidis 2003; Alexiadou & Gengel 2011; Corver and van Koppen 2009, 2011). This analysis is supported by: (i) the anaphoric interpretation of the bare determiners in context; (ii) the syntax of bare determiners; and (iii) deep event anaphora. Further, the adoption of partitive ellipsis comes with the suggestion that partitive DPs do not involve null intermediary noun phrases (cf. Jackendoff 1977, Sauerland ...

 

Three types of nominal anaphors are investigated: (i) pronouns, (ii) partitive ellipsis and (iii) the contrastive anaphor 'one'. I argue that in each case, the representational basis for anaphora is the same, a semantic variable ranging over singular or plural entities, rather than syntactic as previous approaches have suggested. In the case of pronouns, I argue against syntactic D-type approaches (Elbourne 2005) and semantic D-type approaches (Cooper 1979). Instead, I present arguments in favor of the set variable representation assumed under Nouwen (2003)’s approach. Following this, I consider a number of cases usually taken to involve the elision of ...

 

The goal of language comprehension for humans is not just to decode the semantic content of sentences, but rather to grasp what speakers intend to communicate. To infer speaker meaning, listeners must at minimum assess whether and how the literal meaning of an utterance addresses a question under discussion in the conversation. In cases of implicature, where the speaker intends to communicate more than just the literal meaning, listeners must access additional relevant information in order to understand the intended contribution of the utterance. I argue that the primary challenge for inferring speaker meaning is in identifying and accessing this ...

 

This dissertation deals with the theory of the phonetic component of grammar in a formal probabilistic inference framework: (1) it has been recognized since the beginning of generative phonology that some language-specific phonetic implementation is actually context-dependent, and thus it can be said that there are gradient “phonetic processes” in grammar in addition to categorical “phonological processes.” However, no explicit theory has been developed to characterize these processes. Meanwhile, (2) it is understood that language acquisition and perception are both really informed guesswork: the result of both types of inference can be reasonably thought to be a less-than-perfect committment, with ...

 

In this dissertation I explore the nature of interpretive dependencies in human language. In particular I investigate the limits of syntactically mediated interpretive dependencies as well as non-syntactic ones. Broadly speaking I investigate the limits of grammatical dependencies and note that current theory cannot possibly handle certain dependencies. That certain dependencies evade grammatical explanation requires a rethinking of the representations of those dependencies. The results of this investigation concern the primacy and the purview of the syntax component of the grammar. In short, the purview of syntactic relations is limited to c-command and if a c-command relation holds between two ...

 

This thesis explores how predictions about upcoming language inputs are computed during real-time language comprehension. Previous research has demonstrated humans’ ability to use rich contextual information to compute linguistic prediction during real-time language comprehension, and it has been widely assumed that contextual information can impact linguistic prediction as soon as it arises in the input. This thesis questions this key assumption and explores how linguistic predictions develop in real- time. I provide event-related potential (ERP) and reading eye-movement (EM) evidence from studies in Mandarin Chinese and English that even prominent and unambiguous information about preverbal arguments’ structural roles cannot immediately ...

 

This thesis examines reflexive pronouns, such as Icelandic sig (Cf. Thráinsson 2007), which may be bound from outside of an infinitive clause (which I call MD “medium distance” binding) in addition to being bound locally. I propose that such reflexives are linked to their antecedents via sisterhood followed by movement: the reflexive and antecedent are first merged together as sisters, and the antecedent subsequently moves to receive its first theta-role, as schematized below:

  1. He ordered Harold to shave he+sig

This links the properties of bound simplex reflexives to the properties of movement. I argue that reflexives such as sig ...

 

Boskovic 2005, 2008 outlines a phase-based analysis of adjunct extraction in determinerless languages like Serbo-Croation (SC). The analysis is modeled on recent phase based analyses of P-stranding (cf. Abels 2003, 2012) wherein the richness of the functional structure of the PP determines whether extraction is possible. This squib identifies a problem for a unified analysis of these two phenomena. Prohibitions of adjunct extraction are obviated under sluicing while prohibitions of p-stranding are not.

 

Comparative correlatives, like the longer you stay out in the rain, the colder you’ll get, are prolific in the world’s languages (i.e., there is no evidence of a language that lacks comparative correlatives). Despite this observation, the data do not present a readily apparent syntax. What is the relationship between the two clauses? What is the main verb? What is English’s the which obligatorily appears at the start of each clause?

This thesis reviews prior analyses of comparative correlatives, both syntactic and semantic (Fillmore, 1987; McCawley, 1988; McCawley, 1998; Beck, 1997; Culicover & Jackendoff, 1999; Borsley, 2003 ...

 

Word-level information influences phonetic learning in adults and infants

Naomi Feldman, Emily Myers, Katherine White, Thomas Griffiths, James Morgan

Infants begin to segment words from fluent speech during the same time period that they learn phonetic categories. Segmented words can provide a potentially useful cue for phonetic learning, yet accounts of phonetic category acquisition typically ignore the contexts in which sounds appear. We present two experiments to show that, contrary to the assumption that phonetic learning occurs in isolation, learners are sensitive to the words in which sounds appear and can use this information to constrain their interpretation of phonetic variability. Experiment 1 shows that adults use word-level information in a phonetic category learning task, assigning acoustically similar vowels ...

 

Recent observations of unexpected ERP responses to grammatically well-formed role reversed sentences (the “Semantic P600” phenomenon) have been taken to bear directly on questions about the architecture of the language processing system. This paper evaluates two central pieces of evidence for accounts that propose a syntax-independent semantic composition mechanism, namely, the presence of P600 effects and the absence of N400 effects in role reversed sentences. Experiment 1 examined the relative contribution of the presence of an animacy violation and the semantic relations between words (‘combinability’) to the ERP responses to role-reversed sentences. Experiment 2 examined the ERP responses to role-reversed ...

 

An important distinction between phonology and syntax has been overlooked. All phonological patterns belong to the regular region of the Chomsky Hierarchy, but not all syntactic patterns do. We argue that the hypothesis that humans employ distinct learning mechanisms for phonology and syntax currently offers the best explanation for this difference.

 

In some Arabic dialects pre-verbal coordinated subjects cause plural agreement on the verb while post-verbal ones cause either plural agreement or singular agreement. This paradigm has been addressed by Aoun, Benmamoun, and Sportiche (1994, 1999) and Munn (1999) to varying degrees of success. This reply offers an improvement on the previous analyses by utilizing the concept of decomposed merge (Hornstein 2009) whereby merge is reanalyzed as two suboperations. Previously unexplained cases that flaunt the paradigm are explained here by a decomposition of the extension condition (Chomsky 1995) and a derivational account of pronoun binding across coordination.

 

When a word is preceded by a supportive context such as a semantically associated word or a strongly constraining sentence frame, the N400 component of the ERP is reduced in amplitude. An ongoing debate is the degree to which this reduction reflects a passive spread of activation across long-term semantic memory representations as opposed to specific predictions about upcoming input. We addressed this question by embedding semantically associated prime-target pairs within an experimental context that encouraged prediction to a greater or lesser degree. The proportion of related items was used to manipulate the predictive validity of the prime for the ...

 

The semantics and pragmatics of belief reports in preschoolers

Shevaun Lewis, Valentine Hacquard, Jeffrey Lidz

Children under 4 years have been claimed to lack adult-­like semantic representations of belief verbs like think. Based on two experiments involving a truth-­value judgment task, we argue that 4-­year olds' apparently deviant interpretations arise from pragmatic difficulty understanding the relevance of belief, rather than from conceptual or semantic immaturity.  

 

We argue that there is an implicit view in psycholinguistics that phonological acquisition is a 'two-stage' process: phonetic categories are first acquired, and then subsequently mapped onto abstract phoneme categories. We present simulations that suggest two problems with this view: first, the learner might mistake the phoneme-level categories for phonetic-level categories and thus be unable to learn the relationships between phonetic-level categories; on the other hand, the learner might construct inaccurate phonetic-level representations that prevent it from finding regular relations among them. We suggest an alternative conception of the phonological acquisition problem that sidesteps this apparent inevitability, and present a ...

 

I make two proposals in this article: (a) an economy condition on the operation Copy, which states that Copy should apply to as small an element as possible, and (b) the “two types of head movement” hypothesis, which states that Universal Grammar allows head movement via substitution as well as head movement via adjunction. I argue that with these proposals, we can not only explain two generalizations about what I call headless XPs, but also attribute crosslinguistic variation in the applicability of these generalizations to parameters that are responsible for the availability of multiple specifiers.

 

This paper develops the observation that, for many predicates, Null Complement Anaphora (NCA) is like anaphora with a descriptively empty definite description (Condoravdi & Gawron 1996, Gauker 2012). I consider how to distinguish this sort of NCA from pronouns theoretically, and then observe an unnoticed exception to the pattern. For verbs like notice, NCA is neither like a definite description nor like a pronoun, raising a new puzzle of how to represent it.

 

This paper investigates the syntax of Japanese restructuring verbs and makes two major claims: (i) there are (at least) three types of restructuring infinitives in Japanese, which is consistent with Wurmbrand's (2001) approach to restructuring infinitives and (ii) there is a general ban on adjunction to complements of lexical restructuring verbs, which is best explained by an interaction of spell-out domains and Case-valuation. It is also shown that this ban regulates adverb insertion, adjective insertion, and quantifier raising.

 

A striking cross-linguistic generalization about the semantics of determiners is that they never express non-conservative relations. To account for this one might hypothesize that the mechanisms underlying human language acquisition are unsuited to non-conservative determiner meanings. We present experimental evidence that 4- and 5-year-olds fail to learn a novel non-conservative determiner but succeed in learning a comparable conservative determiner, consistent with the learnability hypothesis.

 

The question of whether epistemic modals contribute to the truth conditions of the sentences they appear in is a matter of active debate in the literature. Fueling this debate is the lack of consensus about the extent to which epistemics can appear in the scope of other operators. This corpus study investigates the distribution of epistemics in naturalistic data. Our results indicate that they do embed, supporting the view that they contribute semantic content. However, their distribution is limited, compared to that of other modals. This limited distribution seems to call for a nuanced account: while epistemics are semantically contentful ...

 

Young Children's Understanding of "more" and Discrimination of Number and Surface Area

Darko Odic, Paul Pietroski, Tim Hunter, Jeffrey Lidz, Justin Halberda

The psychology supporting the use of quantifier words (e.g., “some,” “most,” “more”) is of interest to both scientists studying quantity representation (e.g., number, area) and to scientists and linguists studying the syntax and semantics of these terms. Understanding quantifiers requires both a mastery of the linguistic representations and a connection with cognitive representations of quantity. Some words (e.g., “many”) refer to only a single dimension, whereas others, like the comparative “more,” refer to comparison by numeric (“more dots”) or nonnumeric dimensions (“more goo”). In the present work, we ask 2 questions. First, when do children begin to ...

 

This dissertation presents an approach for a productive way forward in the study of language acquisition, sealing the rift between claims of an innate linguistic hypothesis space and powerful domain general statistical inference. This approach breaks language acquisition into its component parts, distinguishing the input in the environment from the intake encoded by the learner, and looking at how a statistical inference mechanism, coupled with a well de ned linguistic hypothesis space could lead a learn to infer the native grammar of their native language. This work draws on experimental work, corpus analyses and computational models of Tsez, Norwegian and ...

 

Standard
 generative
 grammars
 describe
 language
 in
 terms
 that
 appear
 distant
 from
 considerations
 of
 everyday,
 real‐time
 language
 processes.
 To
 some
 this
 is
 a
 critical
 flaw,
 while
 to
 others 
this 
is 
a 
clear 
virtue.
 One
 type 
of 
generative 
grammar 
defines 
a 
well‐formed
 sentence
 as 
a 
static, 
structured
 representation 
that 
simultaneously
 satisfies 
all 
relevant 
constraints 
of 
the
 language,
 with 
no 
regard 
to 
how
 the 
representation 
is 
assembled 
(e.g., 
Sag,
 Wasow, 
& 
Bender,
 2003).
 Another
 type
 of
 generative
 grammar
 defines
 a
 well‐formed
 sentence
 as
 a
 derivation,
 or
 sequence
 of
 representations,
 that
 describes
 how
 the
 sentence
 is
 gradually
 assembled,
 often
 including 
various ...

 

This dissertation attempts to unify two reductionist hypotheses: that there is no relational difference between specifiers and complements, and that verbs do not have thematic arguments. I argue that these two hypotheses actually bear on each other and that we get a better theory if we pursue both of them.

The thesis is centered around the following hypothesis: Each application of Spell-Out corresponds to a conjunct at logical form. In order to create such a system, it is necessary to provide a syntax that is designed such that each Spell-Out domain is mapped into a conjunct. This is done by ...

 

The source of syntactic island effects has been a topic of considerable debate within linguistics and psycholinguistics. Explanations fall into three basic categories: grammatical theories, which posit specific grammatical constraints that exclude extraction from islands; grounded theories, which posit grammaticized constraints that have arisen to adapt to constraints on learning or parsing; and reductionist theories, which analyze island effects as emergent consequences of non-grammatical constraints on the sentence parser, such as limited processing resources. In this article we present two studies designed to test a fundamental prediction of one of the most prominent reductionist theories: that the strength of island ...

 

There is a dilemma in current studies of right-node raising (RNR): The main approaches to the construction make fundamentally contradictory predictions that account for overlapping sets of data points. In this paper I argue that no single current analysis can account for the range of data and argue against the possibility that the analyses work in concert to account for the data. That is, given that current analyses each account for some but not the entirety of the documented data, there are two logical possibilities: 1) None of the analyses are correct. 2) More than one analysis is correct in ...

 

Bengali/Bangla is unusual among South Asian languages in that it uses numerical classifiers. In this paper, I propose a new analysis of the DP structure in Bangla motivated by data previously unac- counted for and typological concerns. Specifically, I propose that Bangla has DP-internal NP movement to Spec,DP to mark definiteness, that the numeral and classifier form separate heads in the syntax, and that there is noun to classifier movement when there is no overt classifier. I propose a feature for each of these phenomena, and attempt to explain the ungrammatical examples using principled reasons de- rived from ...

 

In this paper I pursue the idea that a modal's flavor is determined by its attachment height. The various interpretations of the Hindi future marker gaa, which is taken to be a modal, are discussed. The idea put forth is that modal flavor is indirectly constrained by the semantic type of the modal’s prejacent instead of being solely determined via contextual assignment. Modal Bases are re-envisioned as being comprised of different types of alternatives (worlds, world-time pairs, etc.), rather than just sets of worlds determined by different accessibility relations. The correlation between height and attachment site falls out ...

 

Seeing what you mean, mostly

Paul Pietroski, Jeffrey Lidz, Tim Hunter, Darko Odic, Justin Halberda

Idealizing, a speaker endorses or rejects a (declarative) sentence S in a situation s based on how she understands S and represents s. But relatively little is known about how speakers represent situations. Linguists can construct and test initial models of semantic competence, by supposing that sentences have representation-neutral truth conditions, which speakers represent somehow; cf. Marr's (1982) Level One description of a function computed, as opposed to a Level Two description of an algorithm that computes outputs given inputs. But this leaves interesting questions unsettled. One would like to find cases in which S can be held fixed ...

 

This paper discusses whether or not verbs have thematic arguments or whether they just have an event variable. The paper discusses some evidence in favor of the Neo-Davidsonian position that verbs only have an event variable. Based on this evidence, the paper develops a transparent mapping hypothesis from syntax to logical form where each Spell-Out domain corresponds to a conjunct at logical form. The paper closes by discussing the nature of compositionality for a Conjunctivist semantics.

 

It is often said that the meaning of an interrogative sentence is a set of answers. This raises questions about how the meaning of an interrogative is compositionally determined, especially if one adopts an I-language perspective. By contrast, we argue that I-languages generate semantic instructions (SEMs) for how to assemble concepts of a special sort and then prepare these concepts for various uses - e.g., in declaring, querying, or assembling concepts of still further complexity. We connect this abstract conception of meaning to a specific (minimalist) conception of complementizer phrase edges, with special attention to wh-questions and their relative clause ...

 

Basquing in Minimalism

Alex Drummond, Norbert Hornstein

A review of Minds and Language: A dialogue with Noam Chomsky in the Basque Country, edited by Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, Juan Uriagereka, and Pello Salaburu, Oxford University Press, 2010.

 

Measuring and comparing individuals and events

Alexis Wellwood, Valentine Hacquard and Roumyana Pancheva

This squib investigates parallels between nominal and verbal comparatives. Building on key insights of Hackl (2000) and Bale & Barner (2009), we show that more behaves uniformly when it combines with nominal and verbal predicates: (i) it cannot combine with singular count NPs or perfective telic VPs; (ii) grammatical properties of the predicates determine the scale of comparison—plural marked NPs and habitual VPs are compared on a scale of cardinality, whereas mass NPs and perfective (atelic) VPs are (often) compared along non-cardinal, though monotonic, scales. Taken together, our findings confirm and strengthen parallels that have independently been drawn between the ...

 

Von Fintel and Iatridou (2003) observed a striking pattern of scopal non-interaction between phrases headed by strong quantifiers like every and epistemically interpreted modal auxiliaries. Tancredi (2007) and Huitink (2008) observed that von Fintel and Iatridou’s proposed constraint, the Epistemic Containment Principle (ECP), does not apply uniformly: it does not apply to strong quantifiers headed by each. We consider the ECP effect in light of the differential behavior of each and every in the environment of wh-, negative, and generic operators as described by Beghelli and Stowell (1997). Assuming that epistemic and root modals merge at two different syntactic ...

 

Poverty of the Stimulus Revisited

Robert Berwick, Paul Pietroski, Beracah Yankama, Noam Chomsky

A central goal of modern generative grammar has been to discover invariant properties of human languages that reflect 'the innate schematism of mind that is applied to the data of experience' and that 'might reasonably be attributed to the organism itself as its contribution to the task of the acquisition of knowledge'. Candidates for such invariances include the structure dependence of grammatical rules, and in particular, certain constraints on question formation. Various 'poverty of stimulus' (POS) arguments suggest that these invariances reflect an innate human endowment, as opposed to common experience: Such experience warrants selection of the grammars acquired only ...

 

In this paper we bring evidence from language acquisition to bear on the debate over the relative abstractness of children’s grammatical knowledge. We first identify one aspect of syntactic representation that exhibits a range of syntactic, morphological and semantic consequences both within and across languages, namely the hierarchical structure of ditransitive verb phrases. While the semantic consequences of this structure are parallel in English, Kannada, and Spanish, the word order and morphological reflexes of this structure diverge. Next we demonstrate that children learning Kannada have command of the relation between morphological form and semantic interpretation in ditransitives with respect ...

 

This thesis is concerned with the nature of memory access during the construction of long-distance dependencies in online sentence comprehension. In recent years, an intense focus on the computational challenges posed by long-distance dependencies has proven to be illuminating with respect to the characteristics of the architecture of the human sentence processor, suggesting a tight link between general memory access procedures and sentence processing routines (Lewis & Vasishth 2005; Lewis, Vasishth, & Van Dyke 2006; Wagers, Lau & Phillips 2009). The present thesis builds upon this line of research, and its primary aim is to motivate and defend the hypothesis that the parser ...

 

Syntactic and Semantic Predictors of Tense in Hindi: An ERP Investigation

Brian Dillon, Andrew Nevins, Alison C. Austin, Colin Phillips

Although there is broad agreement that many ERP components reflect error signals generated during an unexpected linguistic event, there are least two distinct aspects of the process that the ERP signals may reflect. The first is the content of an error, which is the local discrepancy between an observed form and any expectations about upcoming forms, without any reference to why those expectations were held. The second aspect is the cause of an error, which is a context-aware analysis of why the error arose. The current study examines the processes involved in prediction of past tense marking on verbal morphology ...

 

Many syntactic phenomena have received competing accounts, either in terms of formal grammatical mechanisms, or in terms of independently motivated properties of language processing mechanisms (“reductionist” accounts). A variety of different types of argument have been put forward in efforts to distinguish these competing accounts. This article critically examines a number of arguments that have been offered as evidence in favour of formal or reductionist analyses, and concludes that some types of argument are more decisive than others. It argues that evidence from graded acceptability effects and from isomorphism between acceptability judgements and on-line comprehension profiles are less decisive. In ...

 

Sentence and Word Complexity

Jeffrey Heinz, William Idsardi

Our understanding of human learning is increasingly informed by findings from multiple fields—psychology, neuroscience, computer science, linguistics, and education. A convergence of insights is forging a “new science of learning” within cognitive science, which promises to play a key role in developing intelligent machines (1, 2). A long-standing fundamental issue in theories of human learning is whether there are specialized learning mechanisms for certain tasks or spheres of activity (domains). For example, is learning how to open a door (turning the handle before pulling) the same kind of “learning” as putting up and taking down scaffolding (where disassembly must ...

 

The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the nature of intervention effects seen in various constructions like Wh-scope marking, raising and passivization. In particular, this dissertation argues in favor of a movement account for all these cases and supports the idea that (syntactic) movement is inevitable and sufficient enough to provide a unified account of various structural relations (Hornstein, 2009). It further argues that movement always happens in narrow syntax, even when it isn’t visible. For some of these invisible cases, this dissertation suggests head movement as an alternative to LF movement and Agree.

The second aim of ...

 

This thesis investigates the implications of binding phenomena for the development of a reductionist theory of grammatical dependencies. The starting point isthe analysis of binding and control in Hornstein (2001, 2009). A number of revisions are made to this framework in order to develop a simpler and empirically more successful account of binding phenomena.

The major development is the rejection of economy-based accounts of Condition B effects. It is argued that Condition B effects derive directly from an anti-locality constraint on A-movement. Competition between different dependencytypes is crucial to the analysis, but is formulated in terms of a heavily revisedversion ...

 

The precise contribution and mechanism of sensory feedback (particularly auditory feedback) in successful speech production is unclear. Some models of speech production, such as DIVA, assert that speech production is based on attempting to produce auditory (and/or somatosensory targets; e.g. Guenther et al. 2006), and thus assign a central role to sensory feedback for successful speech motor control. These models make explicit predictions about the neural basis of speech production and the integration of auditory and somatosensory feedback and predict predict basal ganglia involvement in speech motor control. In order to test the implications of models depending on ...

 

This study investigates properties of adjunct control with a particular focus on Turkish providing an analysis for different types of adjunct control structures such as temporal adjunct clauses and purpose clauses, which have been understudied in Turkish linguistics. In analyzing adjunct control structures, I use Agree-based Theory of Control (ATC) (Landau 2000 and 2004) as a theoretical basis. I introduce a new interarboreal operation that I call Interarboreal Agree which draws upon the intuitions of Nunes (1995) that syntactic relations can be established between two unconnected trees. This analysis refines ATC in that ATC in its current form fails to ...

 

That we perceive our environment as a unified scene rather than individual streams ofauditory, visual, and other sensory information has recently provided motivation tomove past the long-held tradition of studying these systems separately. Although theyare each unique in their transduction organs, neural pathways, and cortical primaryareas, the senses are ultimately merged in a meaningful way which allows us tonavigate the multisensory world. Investigating how the senses are merged has becomean increasingly wide field of research in recent decades, with the introduction andincreased availability of neuroimaging techniques. Areas of study range frommultisensory object perception to cross-modal attention, multisensory interactions,and integration ...

 

This dissertation explores the hypothesis that language processing proceeds in “windows” that correspond to representational units, where sensory signals are integrated according to time-scales that correspond to the rate of the input. To investigate universal mechanisms, a comparison of signed and spoken languages is necessary. Underlying the seemingly effortless process of language comprehension is the perceiver’s knowledge about the rate at which linguistic form and meaning unfold in time and the ability to adapt to variations in the input.

The vast body of work in this area has focused on speech perception, where the goal is to determine how ...

 

Reflexives in Japanese

Maki Kishida

The purpose of this dissertation is to reconsider reflexives in Japanese through thefollowing three steps: (a) separation of genuine reflexive elements from elements that areconfounded as reflexives, (b) classification of reflexive anaphors into subtypes based ontheir semantic difference, and (c) classification of predicates that occur with anaphors.Many researchers have worked on the reflexive element zibun ‘self,’ but Japanesehas other reflexive elements as well. These elements including zibun have not onlythe reflexive anaphor usage but also other ones. All the instances are, however, oftenlumped together under the category ‘reflexives.’ I distinguish genuine reflexive anaphorsin Japanese from elements that are confounded ...

 

A Comprehensive Three-dimensional Cortical Map of Vowel Space

Mathias Scharinger, William Idsardi, Samantha Poe

Mammalian cortex is known to contain various kinds of spatial encoding schemes for sensory information including retinotopic, somatosensory, and tonotopic maps. Tonotopic maps are especially interesting for human speech sound processing because they encode linguistically salient acoustic properties. In this study, we mapped the entire vowel space of a language (Turkish) onto cortical locations by using the magnetic N1 (M100), an auditory-evoked component that peaks approximately 100 msec after auditory stimulus onset. We found that dipole locations could be structured into two distinct maps, one for vowels produced with the tongue positioned toward the front of the mouth (front vowels ...

 

Recent ERP findings challenge the widespread assumption that syntactic and semantic processes are tightly coupled. Syntactically well-formed sentences that are semantically anomalous due to thematic mismatches elicit a P600, the component standardly associated with syntactic anomaly. This ‘thematic P600’ effect has been attributed to detection of semantically plausible thematic relations that conflict with the surface syntactic structure of the sentence, implying a processing architecture with an independent semantic analyzer. A key finding is that the P600 is selectively sensitive to the presence of plausible verb-argument relations, and that otherwise an N400 is elicited (The hearty meal was devouring ... vs. The ...

 

MonoTrans2: A New Human Computation System to Support Monolingual Translation

Chang Hu, Benjamin Bedersen, Philip Resnik, Yakov Kronrod

 

This paper explores two possible connections between the diagnostics for morphological and semantic markedness. One possibility, a positive correlation, predicts that if a grammatical feature is diagnosed as being morphologically marked then it should also be semantically marked. This possibility follows as a consequence of the assumption that features are interpreted as restrictions on denotations. The second possibility, a negative correlation, predicts that if a grammatical feature is diagnosed as being morphologically marked then it should be semantically unmarked. This systematic inconsistency follows from the assumption that features are interpreted as augmenting functions. In our exploration of number marking, we ...

 

We revisit the purported locality constraint of Quantifier Raising (QR) by investigating children's and adults' interpretation of ACD sentences, where the interpretation depends on the landing site targeted by QR out of an embedded clause. When ACD is embedded in a nonfinite clause, 4-year-old children and adults access the embedded and matrix interpretations. When ACD is embedded in a finite clause, and the matrix interpretation is generally believed to be ungrammatical, children and even some adults access both readings. This set of findings allows for the possibility that the source of QR's reputed locality constraint may instead be ...

 

Interface Transparency and the Psychosemantics of Most

Jeffrey Lidz, Paul Pietroski, Tim Hunter, Justin Halberda

This paper proposes an Interface Transparency Thesis concerning how linguistic meanings are related to the cognitive systems that are used to evaluate sentences for truth/falsity: a declarative sentence S is semantically associated with a canonical procedure for determining whether S is true; while this procedure need not be used as a verification strategy, competent speakers are biased towards strategies that directly reflect canonical specifications of truth conditions. Evidence in favor of this hypothesis comes from a psycholinguistic experiment examining adult judgments concerning ‘Most of the dots are blue’. This sentence is true if and only if the number of ...

 

You had me at "Hello": Rapid extraction of dialect information from spoken words

Mathias Scharinger, Philip Monahan, William Idsardi

Research on the neuronal underpinnings of speaker identity recognition has identified voice-selective areas in the human brain with evolutionary homologues in non-human primates who have comparable areas for processing species-specific calls. Most studies have focused on estimating the extent and location of these areas. In contrast, relatively few experiments have investigated the time-course of speaker identity, and in particular, dialect processing and identification by electro- or neuromagnetic means. We show here that dialect extraction occurs speaker-independently, pre-attentively and categorically. We used Standard American English and African-American English exemplars of ‘Hello’ in a magnetoencephalographic (MEG) Mismatch Negativity (MMN) experiment. The MMN ...

 

Sabbagh (2008) makes an empirical argument concerning the derivation of right node raising (RNR) sentences in Tagalog. He notes that all and only the syntactic constituents that can undergo typical leftward wh-movement can serve as the shared element, or target, of a RNR sentence. Therefore, he argues, a movement analysis would be the most plausible for Tagalog RNR. However, when investigated further, the parallelism does not hold. A greater variety of elements can serve as the RNR target than can be wh-moved, contrary to what Sabbagh claims. The fact that elements that cannot undergo A-bar movement can still act as ...

 

This paper is an investigation of freezing properties related to subjects and objects. Starting out by giving an account of the most prominent Norwegian properties, it then turns to a comparative study between primarily English and Norwegian indirect objects. This comparative study will be shown to have important consequences for the approach to indirect objects. It will be argued that although recent studies are able to capture central aspects of indirect objects, they are inadequate when it comes to accounting for freezing properties. In the present paper, freezing effects are understood in terms of agreement properties, most notably Case agreement ...

 

Minimalist Construal: Two Approaches to A and B

Alex Drummond, Dave Kush, Norbert Hornstein

 

A puzzle about P-stranding and a possible solution

Alex Drummond, Howard Lasnik, Norbert Hornstein

 

This paper extends Fox & Sauerland’s (1996) analysis of scope illusions and argues that what looks like inverse scope readings in clefts with indefinite NP pivots are really illusory cases of scope inversion. Instead, inverse scope comes about due to generic quantification over situations. Furthermore, the present paper adds to Fox and Sauerland by observing differences between "a" and "some" indefinites, where only the former yields illusory scope.

 
 
 

Systems that process natural language must cope with and resolve ambiguity. In this dissertation, a model of language processing is advocated in which multiple inputs and multiple analyses of inputs are considered concurrently and a single analysis is only a last resort. Compared to conventional models, this approach can be understood as replacing single-element inputs and outputs with weighted sets of inputs and outputs. Although processing components must deal with sets (rather than individual elements), constraints are imposed on the elements of these sets, and the representations from existing models may be reused. However, to deal efficiently with large (or ...

 

This dissertation revisits subject island effects (Ross 1967, Chomsky 1973) cross-linguistically. Controlled acceptability judgment studies in German, English, Japanese and Serbian suggest that extraction out of specifiers is consistently degraded compared to extraction out of complements, indicating that the Condition on Extraction domains (CED, Huang 1982) is still empirically viable, contrary to recent claims (Stepanov 2007). As a consequence, recent treatments of the CED in terms of Multiple Spell-Out (Uriagereka 1999) are still tenable. First, a series of NP-subextraction experiments in German using 'was für'-split is discussed. The results indicate that subject island effects cannot be reduced to freezing ...

 

This dissertation investigates adults and children's sentence processing mechanisms, with a special focus on how multiple levels of linguistic representation are incrementally computed in real time, and how this process affects the parser's ability to later revise its early commitments. Using cross-methodological and cross-linguistic investigations of long-distance dependency processing, this dissertation demonstrates how paying explicit attention to the procedures by which linguistic representations are computed is vital to understanding both adults' real time linguistic computation and children's reanalysis mechanisms. The first part of the dissertation uses time course evidence from self-paced reading and eye tracking studies (reading ...

 

Control as Movement

Cedric Boeckx, Norbert Hornstein, Jairo Nunes

The Movement Theory of Control (MTC) makes one major claim: that control relations in sentences like 'John wants to leave' are grammatically mediated by movement. This goes against the traditional view that such sentences involve not movement, but binding, and analogizes control to raising, albeit with one important distinction: whereas the target of movement in control structures is a theta position, in raising it is a non-theta position; however the grammatical procedures underlying the two constructions are the same. This book presents the main arguments for MTC and shows it to have many theoretical advantages, the biggest being that it ...

 

This paper explores the role of learning in generative grammar, highlighting interactions between distributional patterns in the environment and the innate structure of the language faculty. Reviewing three case studies, it is shown how learners use their language faculties to leverage the environment, making inferences from distributions to grammars that would not be licensed in the absence of a richly structured hypothesis space.

 

Restrictions on the Meaning of Determiners: Typological Generalisations and Learnability

Tim Hunter, Jeffrey Lidz, Alexis Wellwood, Anastasia Conroy

 

Cross-linguistic representations of numerals and number marking

Alan Bale, Michaël Gagnon, Hrayr Khanjian

Inspired by Partee (2010), this paper defends a broad thesis that all modifiers, including numeral modifiers, are restrictive in the sense that they can only restrict the denotation of the NP or VP they modify. However, the paper concentrates more narrowly on numeral modification, demonstrating that the evidence that motivated Ionin & Matushansky (2006) to assign non-restrictive, privative interpretations to numerals – assigning them functions that map singular sets to sets containing groups – is in fact consistent with restrictive modification. Ionin & Matushansky (2006)’s argument for this type of interpretation is partly based on the distribution of Turkish numerals which exclusively combine ...

 

This article is concerned with how to characterize and constrain the typology of reduplication and affixation, given Raimy’s (1999 et seq.) precedence-based theory of phonological representations as directed graphs. First, we establish a typology of attested reduplication and infixation anchor points based on an empirical survey. We then extend the SEARCH and COPY algorithms proposed by Mailhot & Reiss (2007) for long-distance assimilation (harmony) processes to the morphological domain, proposing modifications to reconcile this formalism with Raimy’s. Finally, we argue for an amended version of a proposal by Idsardi & Shorey (2007) regarding the process by which ‘looped’ representations created ...

 

In this thesis I explore the syntactic and semantic properties of movement and adjunction in natural language, and suggest that these two phenomena are related in a novel way. In a precise sense, the basic pieces of grammatical machinery that give rise to movement, also give rise to adjunction. In the system I propose, there is no atomic movement operation and no atomic adjunction operation; the terms "movement" and "adjunction" serve only as convenient labels for certain combinations of other, primitive operations. As a result the system makes non-trivial predictions about how movement and adjunction should interact, since we do ...

 

Priming of abstract logical representations in 4-year-olds

Joshua Viau, Jeffrey Lidz and Julien Musolino

Though preschoolers in certain experimental contexts strongly prefer to interpret ambiguous sentences containing quantified NPs and negation on the basis of surface syntax (e.g., Musolino’s (1998) “observation of isomorphism”), contextual manipulations can lead to more adult-like behavior. But is isomorphism a purely pragmatic phenomenon, as recently proposed? In Experiment 1, we begin by isolating the contextual factor responsible for children’s improvement in Musolino and Lidz (2006). We then demonstrate in Experiment 2 that this factor can be used to prime inverse scope interpretations. To remove pragmatics from the equation altogether, we show in Experiment 3 that the ...

 

Crosslinguistically, the same modal words can be used to express a wide range of interpretations. This crosslinguistic trend supports a Kratzerian analysis, where each modal has a core lexical entry and where the difference between an epistemic and a root interpretation is contextually determined. A long standing problem for such a unified account is the equally robust crosslinguistic correlation between a modal’s interpretation and its syntactic behavior: epistemics scope high (in particular higher than tense and aspect) and roots low, a fact which has led to proposals that hardwire different syntactic positions for epistemics and roots (cf. Cinque’s ...

 
 

This thesis proposes a synthesis and generalization of local exponential translation models, the subclass of feature-rich translation models which associate probability distributions with individual rewrite rules used by the translation system, such as synchronous context-free rules, or with other individual aspects of translation hypotheses such as word pairs or reordering events. Unlike other authors we use these estimates to replace the traditional phrase models and lexical scores, rather than in addition to them, thereby demonstrating that the local exponential phrase models can be regarded as a generalization of standard methods not only in theoretical but also in practical terms. We ...

 

A lexical basis for N400 context effects: Evidence from MEG

Ellen Lau, Diogo Almeida, Paul Hines, David Poeppel

The electrophysiological response to words during the ‘N400’ time window (approximately 300–500 ms post-onset) is affected by the context in which the word is presented, but whether this effect reflects the impact of context on access of the stored lexical information itself or, alternatively, post-access integration processes is still an open question with substantive theoretical consequences. One challenge for integration accounts is that contexts that seem to require different levels of integration for incoming words (i.e., sentence frames vs. prime words) have similar effects on the N400 component measured in ERP. In this study we compare the effects ...

 

According to Kratzer (2003), the thematic relation Theme, construed very generally, is not a ‘‘natural relation.’’ She says that the ‘‘natural relations’’ are ‘‘cumulative’’ and argues that Theme is not cumulative, in contrast to Agent. It is therefore best, she concludes, to remove Theme from the palette of semantic analysis. Here I oppose the premises of Kratzer’s argument and then introduce a new challenge to her conclusion, based on the resultative construction in Mandarin. The facts show that Theme and Agent are on equal footing, insofar as neither has the property that Kratzer’s conjecture requires of a natural ...

 

This paper discusses the interaction of aspect and modality, and focuses on the puzzling implicative effect that arises when perfective aspect appears on certain modals: perfective somehow seems to force the proposition expressed by the complement of the modal to hold in the actual world, and not merely in some possible world. I show that this puzzling behavior, originally discussed in Bhatt (1999) for the ability modal, extends to all modal auxiliaries with a circumstantial modal base (i.e., root modals), while epistemic interpretations of the same modals are immune to the effect. I propose that implicative readings are contingent ...

 

We identify three components of any learning theory: the representations, the learner’s data intake, and the learning algorithm. With these in mind, we model the acquisition of the English anaphoric pronoun one in order to identify necessary constraints for successful acquisition, and the nature of those constraints. Whereas previous modeling efforts have succeeded by using a domain-general learning algorithm that implicitly restricts the data intake to be a subset of the input, we show that the same kind of domain-general learning algorithm fails when it does not restrict the data intake. We argue that the necessary data intake restrictions ...

 

The notion that children use statistical distributions present in the input to acquire various aspects of linguistic knowledge has received considerable recent attention. But the roles of learner's initial state have been largely ignored in those studies. What remains unclear is the nature of learner's contribution. At least two possibilities exist. One is that all that learners do is to collect and compile accurately predictive statistics from the data, and they do not have antecedently specified set of possible structures (Elman, et al. 1996; Tomasello 2000). On this view, outcome of the learning is solely based on the ...

 

The goal of this dissertation is to show that even at the earliest (non-invasive) recordable stages of auditory cortical processing, we find evidence that cortex is calculating abstract representations from the acoustic signal. Looking across two distinct domains (inferential pitch perception and vowel normalization), I present evidence demonstrating that the M100, an automatic evoked neuromagnetic component that localizes to primary auditory cortex is sensitive to abstract computations. The M100 typically responds to physical properties of the stimulus in auditory and speech perception and integrates only over the first 25 to 40 ms of stimulus onset, providing a reliable dependent measure ...

 

This dissertation examines the elliptical structures of (a) sluicing (John called someone, but I don't know who!), (b) fragment answers (A: Who did John call?, B: Mary!), (c) gapping (John is eating ice-cream, and Mary apple pie!), and (d) Right Node Raising (John cooked and Mary ate the apple pie!) in Turkish and gives a PF-deletion-based analysis of all these elliptical structures. As to sluicing and fragment answers, evidence in support of PF-deletion comes from P-(non-)stranding and Case Matching, respectively. Further, these elliptical structures are island-insensitive in Turkish. As to gapping, this study gives a movement + deletion ...

 

This dissertation focuses on effective combination of data-driven natural language processing (NLP) approaches with linguistic knowledge sources that are based on manual text annotation or word grouping according to semantic commonalities. I gainfully apply fine-grained linguistic soft constraints -- of syntactic or semantic nature -- on statistical NLP models, evaluated in end-to-end state-of-the-art statistical machine translation (SMT) systems. The introduction of semantic soft constraints involves intrinsic evaluation on word-pair similarity ranking tasks, extension from words to phrases, application in a novel distributional paraphrase generation technique, and an introduction of a generalized framework of which these soft semantic and syntactic constraints can be ...

 

This dissertation explores the hypothesis that predictive processing—the access and construction of internal representations in advance of the external input that supports them—plays a central role in language comprehension. Linguistic input is frequently noisy, variable, and rapid, but it is also subject to numerous constraints. Predictive processing could be a particularly useful approach in language comprehension, as predictions based on the constraints imposed by the prior context could allow computation to be speeded and noisy input to be disambiguated. Decades of previous research have demonstrated that the broader sentence context has an effect on how new input is ...

 
 

A variety of studies have demonstrated that organizing stimuli into categories can affect the way the stimuli are perceived. We explore the influence of categories on perception through one such phenomenon, the perceptual magnet effect, in which discriminability between vowels is reduced near prototypical vowel sounds. We present a Bayesian model to explain why this reduced discriminability might occur: It arises as a consequence of optimally solving the statistical problem of perception in noise. In the optimal solution to this problem, listeners’ perception is biased toward phonetic category means because they use knowledge of these categories to guide their inferences ...

 

Since Ross (1967), it has been observed that there are configurations from which otherwise unbounded movement operations cannot occur, and they are called islands. Ellipsis and resumption are known to have a peculiar property to 'repair' island violations. Each chapter of this thesis discusses a case of ellipsis/resumption to examine in what cases movement out of an island becomes licit by those strategies. Chapter 2 discusses the elliptical construction called sluicing, and argues for the PF-deletion analysis of sluicing (Merchant 2001, originated from Ross 1969). I will show that ECP violations made by adjunct sluicing cannot be repaired by ...

 

One of the main challenges in the study of cognition is how to connect brain activity to cognitive processes. In the domain of language, this requires coordination between two different lines of research: theoretical models of linguistic knowledge and language processing on the one side and brain sciences on the other. The work reported in this dissertation attempts to link these two lines of research by focusing on one particular aspect of linguistic processing, namely lexical access. The rationale for this focus is that access to the lexicon is a mandatory step in any theory of linguistic computation, and therefore ...

 

Agreement attraction in comprehension: Representations and process

Matthew Wagers, Ellen Lau, Colin Phillips

Much work has demonstrated so-called attraction errors in the production of subject–verb agreement (e.g., ‘The key to the cabinets are on the table’, [Bock, J. K., & Miller, C. A. (1991). Broken agreement. Cognitive Psychology, 23, 45–93]), in which a verb erroneously agrees with an intervening noun. Six self-paced reading experiments examined the online mechanisms underlying the analogous attraction effects that have been shown in comprehension; namely reduced disruption for subject–verb agreement violations when these ‘attractor’ nouns intervene. One class of theories suggests that these effects are rooted in faulty representation of the number of the subject ...

 

Constructions on Holiday

Jeffrey Lidz, Alexander Williams

"Constructions at Work" provides many new empirical observations and sound criticisms of other work. These fail, however, to support Goldberg’s two main arguments. They do not undermine the need for innate linguistic structure; nor do they decide for Construction Grammar in particular.

 

The decisions of the United States Supreme Court have far-reaching implications in American life. Using transcripts of Supreme Court oral arguments this work looks at the conversational dynamics of Supreme Court justices and links their conversational interaction with the decisions of the Court and individual justices. While several studies have looked at the relationship between oral arguments and case variables, to our knowledge, none have looked at the relationship between conversational dynamics and case outcomes. Working from this view, we show that the conversation of Supreme Court justices is both predictable and predictive. We aim to show that conversation during ...

 

The meaning of 'most': Semantics, numerosity, and psychology

Paul Pietroski, Jeffrey Lidz, Tim Hunter, Justin Halberda

The meaning of ‘most’ can be described in many ways. We offer a framework for distinguishing semantic descriptions, interpreted as psychological hypotheses that go beyond claims about sentential truth conditions, and an experiment that tells against an attractive idea: ‘most’ is understood in terms of one-to-one correspondence. Adults evaluated ‘Most of the dots are yellow’, as true or false, on many trials in which yellow dots and blue dots were displayed for 200ms. Displays manipulated the ease of using a “one-to-one with remainder” strategy, and a strategy of using the Approximate Number System to compare of (approximations of) cardinalities. Interpreting ...

 

A cortical network for semantics: (de)constructing the N400

Ellen Lau, Colin Phillips, David Poeppel

Measuring event-related potentials (ERPs) has been fundamental to our understanding of how language is encoded in the brain. One particular ERP response, the N400 response, has been especially influential as an index of lexical and semantic processing. However, there remains a lack of consensus on the interpretation of this component. Resolving this issue has important consequences for neural models of language comprehension. Here we show that evidence bearing on where the N400 response is generated provides key insights into what it reflects. A neuroanatomical model of semantic processing is used as a guide to interpret the pattern of activated regions ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with whether the sentence processor can compute plausible relations among a cluster of neighboring open class words without taking into account the relationships between these words as dictated by the structure of the sentence. It has been widely assumed that compositional semantics is built on top of syntactic structures (Heim & Kratzer, 1998; Pollard & Sag, 1994). This view has been challenged by recent electrophysiological findings (Kim and Osterhout, 2005; Kuperberg, 2007; van Herten et al., 2005, 2006) that appear to show that semantic composition can proceed independently of syntactic structure. This dissertation investigates whether the evidence for ...

 

This dissertation discusses how pragmatic factors contribute to children's behavior in interpreting scopally ambiguous forms. In particular, we look at children's interpretation of negated sentences involving disjunction in the object (NegDisjunction). Languages like English and Chinese allow scope interaction between negation and disjunction of this kind of strings and thus two corresponding interpretations: the narrow scope disjunction interpretation (the NSD, meaning "neither"), thus the wide scope disjunction interpretation (the WSD, meaning "not this or not that"); but languages like Japanese only allow the WSD. Previous studies found out that children of different languages accessed the NSD instead of ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with the problem of how structured linguistic representations interact with the architecture of human memory. Much recent work has attempted to unify real-time linguistic memory with a general content-addressable architecture (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005; McElree, 2006). Because grammatical principles and constraints are strongly relational in nature, and linguistic representation hierarchical, this kind of architecture is not well suited to restricting the search of memory to grammatically-licensed constituents alone. This dissertation investigates under what conditions real-time language comprehension is grammatically accurate. Two kinds of grammatical dependencies were examined in reading time and speeded grammaticality experiments: subject-verb agreement licensing ...

 

Patients in Igbo and Mandarin

Alexander Williams

 
 

This dissertation investigates the contributions of the parser and extra-linguistic information in the selection of a final interpretation of scopally ambiguous strings, integrating data from both children and adults into our understanding of language processing. Previous research has found an advantage for surface scope interpretations in adult sentence processing (Tunstall,1998 & Anderson,2003) and in children's interpretive preferences (Musolino and Lidz, 2006). In light of these findings, we investigate two central questions. One, what is the source of the advantage for surface scope interpretations in adults? Two, what factors contribute to children's ultimate adherence to surface scope interpretations ...

 

The focus of this dissertation is syntactic movement and its relationship to surface semantics, morphology, and licensing relations in syntax, with an emphasis on Spanish and English. Chapter 2 argues that Herburger's (2000) Neo-Davidsonian approach to the semantics of focus, as syntactically implemented by Uriagereka (2005), allows for a unified treatment of new information focus and contrastive focus (focus movement to the left periphery and in situ focus) in Spanish. The diverse positions that the focused element can take in the sentence are claimed to be determined by contextual anchoring mechanisms of Raposo and Uriagereka (1995). This entails a ...

 
The best systems for machine translation of natural language are based on statistical models learned from data. Conventional representation of a statistical translation model requires substantial offline computation and representation in main memory. Therefore, the principal bottlenecks to the amount of data we can exploit and the complexity of models we can use are available memory and CPU time, and current state of the art already pushes these limits. With data size and model complexity continually increasing, a scalable solution to this problem is central to future improvement. Callison-Burch et al. (2005) and Zhang and Vogel (2005) proposed a solution ...
 

Effect of syntactic constraints on long-distance dependency formation in backwards anaphora processing

Nina Kazanina, Ellen Lau, Moti Lieberman, Colin Phillips, Masaya Yoshida

This article presents three studies that investigate when syntactic constraints become available during the processing of long-distance backwards pronominal dependencies (backwards anaphora or cataphora). Earlier work demonstrated that in such structures the parser initiates an active search for an antecedent for a pronoun, leading to gender mismatch effects in cases where a noun phrase in a potential antecedent position mismatches the gender of the pronoun [Van Gompel, R. P. G. & Liversedge, S. P. (2003). The influence of morphological information on cataphoric pronoun assignment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29, 128–139]. Results from three self-paced reading studies ...

 

This dissertation investigates a set of phenomena in Standard Arabic at the syntax-morphology interface, providing an analysis for each within the assumptions of the minimalist program, particularly those related to mechanisms of formal feature licensing. Among the issues discussed are the subject-verb agreement asymmetry, case-assignment, default agreement, nominative Themes, as well as interactions between tense, negation, and modality heads. In this regard, I provide an analysis for word order alternation in the language in terms of left dislocation rather than via movement, showing that the language does not show A-movement effects in SVO orders, passives, raising constructions, or object shift ...

 

This dissertation investigates the acquisition of language-specific constraints on scope interpretation by Japanese preschool children. Several constructions in Japanese do not allow scope interpretations that the corresponding English sentences do allow. First, in Japanese transitive sentences with multiple quantificational arguments, an inverse scope interpretation is disallowed, due to the Rigid Scope Constraint. Second, Japanese logical connectives cannot be interpreted under the scope of local negation, due to their Positive Polarity. Thirdly, in Japanese infinitival complement constructions with implicative matrix verbs like wasureru ("forget") the inverse scope interpretation is required, due to the Anti-Reconstruction Constraint. The main goal of this research ...

 

Current interest in automatic sentiment analysis is motivated by a variety of information requirements. The vast majority of work in sentiment analysis has been specifically targeted at detecting subjective statements and mining opinions. This dissertation focuses on a different but related problem that to date has received relatively little attention in NLP research: detecting implicit sentiment, or spin, in text. This text classification task is distinguished from other sentiment analysis work in that there is no assumption that the documents to be classified with respect to sentiment are necessarily overt expressions of opinion. They rather are documents that might reveal ...

 

There has always been interest in the methodology of acceptability judgment collection, as well as the reliability of the results. It seems, though, that the past several years have seen an increase in the number of studies employing formal experimental techniques for the collection of acceptability judgments, so much so that the term experimental syntax has come to be applied to the use of those techniques. The question this dissertation asks is whether the extent of the utility of experimental syntax is to find areas in which informal judgment collection was insufficient, or whether there is a complementary research program ...

 
 

This dissertation investigates the mechanism of language acquisition given the boundary conditions provided by linguistic representation and the time course of acquisition. Exploration of the mechanism is vital once we consider the complexity of the system to be learned and the non-transparent relationship between the observable data and the underlying system. It is not enough to restrict the potential systems the learner could acquire, which can be done by defining a finite set of parameters the learner must set. Even supposing that the system is defined by n binary parameters, we must still explain how the learner converges on the ...

 

This dissertation examines Agree, a narrow syntactic, long-distance operation underlying phi-agreement in the grammar. Taking the strong minimalist thesis (cf. Chomsky 2000) as my point of departure, I question Agree on both conceptual and empirical grounds. On the conceptual side, the operation is suspect first for its language-specific character. Second, it also fails to be justified on the grounds of general architectural constraints and legibility requirements. Further, evidences of various long-distance agreement from across languages examined here question the empirical basis for Agree built throughout the previous literature. As far as this is true, I contend that the faculty of ...

 

Both the external world and our internal world are full of changing activities , and the question of how these two dynamic systems are linked constitutes the most intriguing and fundamental question in neuroscience and cognitive science. This study specifically investigates the processing and representation of sound dynamic information in human auditory cortex using magnetoencephalography (MEG), a non-invasive brain imaging technique whose high temporal resolution (on the order of ~1ms) makes it an appropriate tool for studying the neural correlates of dynamic auditory information. The other goal of this study is to understand the essence of the macroscopic activities reflected in ...

 

This paper presents three experiments which examine the effect of lexical surface frequency on sentence processing and the interaction between surface frequency and syntactic prediction. The first two experiments make use of the self-paced reading paradigm to show that processing time differences due to surface frequency (e.g., the frequency of cats not including occurrences of cat), which have previously been demonstrated in isolated word tasks like lexical decision, also give rise to reaction time differences in sentence processing tasks, in this case for singular and plural English nouns. The second experiment investigates whether a prediction for the number morpheme ...

 

The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the understanding of the nature of finiteness and A-movement by looking at control phenomena in Japanese, where verbal morphology sometimes does not help to identify finiteness of clauses. In so doing, the thesis addresses empirical and theoretical questions that arise from analyses of Japanese control and attempts to resolve them. The first part of the thesis, chapter 2, investigates obligatory control (OC) into tensed clauses, where embedded predicates are morphosyntactically marked for tense. Recent findings about the obligatory control/non-obligatory control dichotomy leads to the observation that tensed subordinate clauses that ...

 

This thesis aims to reveal the mechanisms and constraints involving in long-distance dependency formation in the static knowledge of language and in real-time sentence processing. Special attention is paid to the grammar and processing of island constraints. Several experiments show that in a head-final language like Japanese global constraints like island constraints are applied long before decisive information such as verb heads and relative heads, are encountered. Based on this observation, the thesis argues that there is a powerful predictive mechanism at work behind real time sentence processing. A model of this predictive mechanism is proposed. This thesis examines the ...

 

In parasitic-gap constructions an illicit gap inside a syntactic island becomes acceptable in combination with an additional licit gap, a result that has interesting implications for theories of grammar. Such constructions hold even greater interest for the question of the relation between grammatical knowledge and real-time language processing. This article presents results from two experiments on parasitic-gap constructions in English in which the parasitic gap appears inside a subject island, before the licensing gap. An offline study confirms that parasitic gaps are acceptable when they occur inside theinfinitival complement of a subject NP, but not when they occur inside a ...

 

This dissertation is a case study of the syntax of the left periphery, using exclamatives in English and Japanese. In the first part, I discuss exclamatives in Japanese in detail by focusing on the properties of the exclamative wh-phrases and particles that function as licensors for wh-phrases in exclamatives. We argue that licensing exclamatives involves at least three functional heads: Finite, Focus, and Mood. Especially, the necessity of the Mood head differentiates exclamatives from interrogatives. On the other hand, we claim that having these three functional projections does not type the clause as exclamative, and show that the presence of ...

 

This dissertation explores the syntax and semantics of positive and comparative gradable adjectives. A detailed study of intransitive (tall) and transitive (patient with Mary) adjectives is provided with special emphasis on phrases that express the standard of comparison, such as tall for a jockey, tall compared to Bill, and taller than Bill. It is shown that standard expressions, surprisingly, behave differently both syntactically and semantically. There are four main conclusions. First, a syntactic analysis is provided in which all standard expressions are introduced by unique degree morphemes in the extended projection of the adjective. Each morpheme and the standard expression ...

 

This dissertation addresses a foundational debate regarding the role of structure and abstraction in linguistic representation, focusing on representations at the lexical level. Under one set of views, positing abstract morphologically-structured representations, words are decomposable into morpheme-level basic units; however, alternative views now challenge the need for abstract structured representation in lexical representation, claiming non-morphological whole-word storage and processing either across-the-board or depending on factors like transparency/productivity/surface form. Our cross-method/cross-linguistic results regarding morphological-level decomposition argue for initial, automatic decomposition, regardless of factors like semantic transparency, surface formal overlap, word frequency, and productivity, contrary to alternative views of ...

 

The dissertation consists of theoretical and experimental studies of multiple interrogatives (i.e., sentences containing more than one wh-phrase, like Who bought what?). First, I examine the status of Superiority effects in contexts with and without subject-aux(iliary) inversion cross-linguistically. The relevant contrast from English is between Who bought what?, ??What did who buy?, and I wonder what who bought., where () indicates a greater degree of unacceptability by native speakers than (??). I argue that the presence of subject-aux inversion in main clauses in English is responsible for the given asymmetry, and I attribute the degraded status of ??What did who ...

 

The main goal of the work in this dissertation is to investigate pre-verbal structure building effects in languages with different configurations such as Spanish, Galician and Basque, by means of using different pre-verbal cues in order to show that syntactic structure can be both interpreted and anticipated before the verbal head. I examine the syntax of Clitic-Left Dislocations (CLLDs) and other kinds of left-dislocations in Spanish and then analyze their processing. I concentrate on the use of clitic pronouns in Spanish and Galician in CLLD constructions that require the presence of the clitic pronoun to interpret the left-dislocated phrase and ...

 

This dissertation discusses children's understanding of semantic contribution of the universal quantifier every and its interactions with negation from a logico-semantic perspective. The universal quantifier every evokes an asymmetric entailment pattern in its first and second arguments (e.g., Ladusaw, 1979), which influences both sentential meanings and inferential relations among them. Whereas several studies have revealed children's sophisticated ability to compose the meanings of sentences containing every (e.g., Gualmini 2005), far less is known about whether children's knowledge about every can be extended to the level of meaning comparison, i.e., to the computation of the ...

 

This dissertation investigates aspects of auditory scene analysis such as the detection of a new object in the environment. Specifically I try to learn about these processes by studying the temporal dynamics of magnetic signals recorded from outside the scalp of human listeners, and comparing these dynamics with psychophysical measures. In total nine behavioral and Magneto-encephalography (MEG) brain-imaging experiments are reported. These studies relate to the extraction of tonal targets from background noise and the detection of change within ongoing sounds. The MEG deflections we observe between 50-200 ms post transition reflect the first stages of perceptual organization. I interpret ...

 

The present thesis is concerned with the syntax of constructions variously referred to as 'applicative', 'ditransitive', or 'multiple object' constructions: constructions that contain arguments that transcend the traditional subject-object characterization. The present thesis is also concerned with how the syntax of such constructions yields the interpretive effects that previous research has identified. In this thesis I try to remedy the inadequacies and limitations of previous accounts. As far as the syntax of applicatives is concerned, my analysis necessitates the rejection of phase-based derivation, and requires an emphasis on anti-locality, a rethinking of the phenomenon of successive cyclicity, and a renewed ...

 

The role of prediction in rapid syntactic analysis

Ellen Lau, Clare Stroud, Silke Plesch, Colin Phillips

A number of recent electrophysiological studies of sentence processing have shown that a subclass of syntactic violations elicits very rapid ERP responses, occurring within around 200 ms of the onset of the violation. Such findings raise the question of how it is possible to diagnose violations so quickly. This paper suggests that very rapid diagnosis of errors is possible specifically in situations where the diagnosis problem is tightly constrained by specific expectations generated before the critical word is presented. In an event-related potentials (ERP) study of visual sentence reading participants encountered violations of a word order constraint (...Max’s of ...

 

In this thesis, I propose a syntactic structure for verbs which directly encodes their event complexities. I present a model that is 'internalist' in the Chomskyan sense: Aktionsart properties of predicates are not a real-world affair, but the interpretation of a mind structure. For this purpose, I base my proposal on the Dimensional Theory of Uriagereka (2005, forthcoming). Syntactic constructs are in this view the results of operations that create increasingly complex objects, based on an algorithm that is homo-morphic with the structure of numerical categories. First, I propose that Aktionsart can be read off from structural complexities of syntactic ...

 

Turkish relative clauses display a subject/non-subject asymmetry. The subject relative (SR) is licensed for relativization from [Spec, TP]. Whereas the non-subject relative (NSR) is never acceptable for subject relativization, the SR is licensed in clauses where there is no external argument, and when relativizing a non-subject in clauses where the subject is non-specific. Within the framework of the Minimalist Program, Turkish RCs are explained in terms of satisfaction of the EPP of T by a D feature and Minimality effects. As long as no nominal expression intervenes between the relative head and [Spec, TP], the SR is licensed. The ...

 

Until recently the focus of the Natural Language Processing (NLP) community has been on a handful of mostly European languages. However, the rapid changes taking place in the economic and political climate of the world precipitate a similar change to the relative importance given to various languages. The importance of rapidly acquiring NLP resources and computational capabilities in new languages is widely accepted. Statistical NLP models have a distinct advantage over rule-based methods in achieving this goal since they require far less manual labor. However, statistical methods require two fundamental resources for training: (1) online corpora (2) manual annotations. Creating ...

 

In this thesis, I present evidence that structural Case in Korean is not absolutely semantically inert. It can have a focus flavor in some contexts, for example, stacked Case and Case attached to an adverb/adverbial and a verb. This sort of Case feature may not be an embarrassment for the good design of language. I discuss the Resultative Construction in a derivational approach. We compare the Resultative Construction between English and Korean in pursuit of finding out the underlying cause for differences between the two languages.

 

This dissertation investigates long-distance backwards pronominal dependencies (backwards anaphora or cataphora) and constraints on such dependencies from the viewpoint of language development and real-time language processing. Based on the findings from a comprehension experiment with Russian-speaking children and on real-time sentence processing data from English and Russian adults I argue for a position that distinguishes structural and non-structural constraints on backwards anaphora. I show that unlike their non-syntactic counterparts, structural constraints on coreference, in particular Principle C of the Binding Theory (Chomsky 1981), are active at the earliest stage of language development and of real-time processing. In language acquisition, the ...

 

Meaning before truth

Paul Pietroski

 

This dissertation develops novel derivational mechanics for characterizing the syntactic component of human language -- Tree Contraction Grammar (TCG). TCG falls within a general class of derivationally-oriented minimalist approaches, constituting a version of a Multiple Spell Out (MSO-)system (Chomsky 1999, Uriagereka 1999, 2002). TCG posits a derivational WORKSPACE restricting the size of structures that can be active at a given stage of derivation. As structures are expanded, workspace limitations periodically force contractions of the span of structure visible to operations. These expansion-contraction dynamics are shown to have implications for our understanding of locality of dependencies, specifically regarding successive cyclic movement ...

 

The aim of the present study is to revisit the old debate between rationalists and empiricists in relation to language development with new longitudinal data in hand. I show that when it comes to the development of a specific piece of linguistic knowledge, namely the distribution of the third person singular morpheme -s in child English, the generativist approach can satisfactorily account for the quirks observed in the longitudinal data presented herein. First, I argue that children are not conservative learners in the sense of Tomasello (2003), but they set parameters in the sense of Crain (1991). That is to ...

 

Studies of adult sentence processing have established that the referential context in which sentences are presented plays an immediate role in their interpretation, such that features of the referential context mitigate, and even eliminate, so-called 'garden-path' effects. The finding that the context ordinarily obviates garden path effects is compelling evidence for the Referential Theory, advanced originally by Crain and Steedman, (1985) and extended in Altmann and Steedman (1988). Recent work by Trueswell, Sekerina, Hill and Logrip (1999) suggests, however, that children may not be as sensitive as adults to contextual factors in resolving structural ambiguities. This conclusion is not anticipated ...

 

In two experiments, we tested for lingering effects of verb replacement disfluencies on the processing of garden path sentences that exhibit the main verb/reduced relative (MV/RR) ambiguity. Participants heard sentences with revisions like The little girl chosen, uh, selected for the role celebrated with her parents and friends. We found that the syntactic ambiguity associated with the reparandum verb involved in the disfluency (here chosen) had an influence on later parsing: Garden path sentences that included such revisions were more likely to be judged grammatical if the reparandum verb was structurally unambiguous. Conversely, ambiguous non-garden path sentences were ...

 

In noisy settings, seeing the interlocutor's face helps to disambiguate what is being said. For this to happen, the brain must integrate auditory and visual information. Three major problems are (1) bringing together separate sensory streams of information, (2) extracting auditory and visual speech information, and (3) identifying this information as a unified auditory-visual percept. In this dissertation, a new representational framework for auditory visual (AV) speech integration is offered. The experimental work (psychophysics and electrophysiology (EEG)) suggests specific neural mechanisms for solving problems (1), (2), and (3) that are consistent with a (forward) 'analysis-by-synthesis' view of AV speech ...

 

This dissertation suggests that referential 3rdP null subjects in Modern Brazilian Portuguese (BP) and Finnish are residues of A-movement, rather than null pronouns. These grammars exhibit weak 3rdP verbal and possessive agreement morphology, and do not obey the Avoid Pronoun Principle, allowing non-emphatic overt pronouns in subject position. This state of affairs has affected the licensing of referential null subjects, which are licensed only within embedded domains. I correlate the loss of agreement with this peculiar behavior of null subjects and advance the hypothesis that BP and Finnish are not pro-drop grammars, arguing on empirical grounds that in BP and ...

 

This dissertation consists of an investigation of Syntactic Amalgamation (cf. Lakoff 1974): the phenomenon of combination of sentences that yields parenthetic-like constructions like (01). (01) John invited God only knows how many people to you can imagine what kind of a party. The theoretical framework adopted is the Generative-Transformational Grammar (Chomsky 1957, 1965, 1975, 1981, 1986b, 2000b), following (and elaborating on) the recent developments known as the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995, 2000a, 2001a, 2001b; Martin & Uriagereka 2000; Uriagereka 1998, 1999, 2002). As far as the representation of syntactic amalgams is concerned, the main claim made in this dissertation is that ...

 

This dissertation presents a Minimalist Theory of Control. As for the distribution of PRO, it provides evidence that PRO appears in a configuration of regular Structural Case assignment. This suggests that the complementary distribution between PRO and lexical subjects is not related to Case. It also provides empirical evidence against the Movement analysis of Control, which subsumes Control under Raising, and is compatible with the theoretical view that Theta Roles are configurational, rather than Features. It also renders the so-called Null Case unnecessary. The interpretation of PRO is the result of the need of the Chain of PRO to collapse ...

 

This dissertation investigates the topic of verbal ellipsis in English. Two main issues are addressed in this work: (i) the identity condition that restricts the application of ellipsis and (ii) the different locality restrictions that apply to elliptical constructions. The identity condition is examined from the point of view of competence, while the locality condition is given a natural answer from the processing domain. Furthermore, a parsing algorithm based on minimalist grammars is defined. Chapter 1 introduces the topic. Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 deal with the syntactic identity condition. Chapter 2 reviews some proposals in the literature, namely, Lasnik ...

 

The general aim of this thesis is to provide support for the claim that movement can be driven by theta-features, advanced by Bokovič (1994), Hornstein (1999, 2001), Manzini and Russo (2000), and O'Neil (1997) among others, through a study of Japanese Psych Verb constructions that exhibit interesting peculiarities. In some psych verb constructions, theta-roles are projected in an order that diverges from the canonical order found in other dyadic constructions. The theme role of Object Experiencer (OE) verbs is realized in the subject position of the sentence, while the experiencer role is linked to the object position. On ...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A single segment representation with dynamic features (Oneseg) explains differences between the phonologies of spoken words and signs better than current multiple segments phonological representations of signs (Multiseg). A segment is defined as the largest phonological unit where combinations of features are contrastive, but permutations and repetitions aren’t. Hayes (1993) distinguishes between static features (place, handshape) which don't reference motion, and dynamic features (direction, repetition) which do. Dynamic features are the only way that a single segment representation can sequence motion. Oneseg correctly predicts that number of repetitions is not contrastive in signs, because repetition is the result ...

 

Syntax unchained

Hirohisa Kiguchi

 
 

Thematic Relations between Nouns

Juan Carlos Castillo

This dissertation explores some of the traditionally labeled possessive relations, and proposes a basic syntactic structure that underlies them. The two nouns act as subject and predicate in a small clause, dominated by two functional projections, where reference/agreement and contextual restrictions are checked. Looking first at container-content relations, we propose that the container is always a predicate for the content. Because in our system selection is determined in the small clause and agreement is checked in an AgrP, selection and agreement need not be determined by the same noun. Selection also distinguishes between a container and a content reading ...

 

This dissertation investigated the way in which English-speaking and Chinese- speaking children interpret ‘a’ and ‘yi-ge’ respectively in sentences containing the universal quantifier or negation. Three series of experiments were conducted, using a truth value judgement task. The first experiment examined how children interpreted unambiguous double object sentences like “Snow White gave a lady every flower” and ambiguous to-dative sentences like “The teacher gave every ball to a girl” in English and Chinese. The results showed that English-speaking children assigned a non-adult universal wide scope reading to the double object sentences, and their pattern of preference for to-dative sentences was ...

 
 
 

This dissertation concentrates on movement dependencies under minimalist assumptions and suggests that the opposite of moving too far (standard locality) exists also, namely moving too closely: anti-locality. A theory of anti-locality will be developed that incorporates a tripartition of clause structure into Prolific Domains, areas of the clause that share a common “super-feature” or context value. The lowest Prolific Domain is responsible for thematic relations (θ-domain), the next one for agreement relations (φ- domain), and the highest one for discourse relations (ω-domain). Under this approach, anti-locality is expressed in terms of the Condition on Domain Exclusivity which simply bans Domain-internal ...

 
 
 
 
 
 

Following the spirit of Hornstein (1995), this thesis explores the possibility of eliminating entire LF A’-movement. The standard LF-movement analysis of wh-in-situ is shown to be neither conceptually desirable nor empirically adequate. Wh-in-situ are bound in situ by the abstract Q-operator via unselective quantification. A wh-adverb like weishenme (why) is subject to Q-licensing because it denotes a set of proposition and, therefore, cannot be unselectively bound. Its island effects result from the fact that this licensing must be clause-bounded. Rhetorical wh-questions (RWQ) in a wh-in-situ language are subject to unselective quantification of the same sort, but with their whs ...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Studies in coreference and binding

Frederick C. Savarese

 

(Anti-)Connectivity

Kwang-Sup Kim

 
 
 

This dissertation explores the way in which English-speaking children acquire the meaning of sentences containing negation and quantified noun phrases (QNPs). This investigation is based on a series of psycholinguistic experiments designed to assess children’s comprehension of sentences like ‘Every horse didn’t jump over the fence’ or ‘Cookie Monster didn’t eat two slices of pizza’ among others. The major finding is that children around the age of 5 do not interpret these sentences the way adult speakers of English do. This finding raises the following questions (a) How and why do children’s interpretations of sentences containing ...

 
 
 

Parametric Change in French

Catherine Cravero-Dolan

 
 

Mantuan vowel alternations

Viola Giulia Miglio

 
 
 
 
 

This dissertation shows that there are syntactic constraints involved in the aspectual interpretation of the VP that involve the internal structure of the verbal complements. Although a simple compositional semantics would predict certain interpretations, the syntactic computational system has its own mechanisms, and the relevant configurations do not always obtain. Consequently, certain readings end up being blocked. Chapter 1 defines the relevant output conditions for aspectual interpretation based on the semantic work of Verkuyl (1995) and Krifka (1989), and proposes a syntactic configuration within the Minimalist Program for Linguistic Theory (Chomsky 1993) at which aspect is calculated. Chapter 2 shows ...

 

Two topics in Brazilian Portuguese

Marcia Corteletti Loureiro

 

The syntax of tense

Ellen Thompson

 
 
 
 

This dissertation is concerned with movement operations within the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995). Exploring the copy theory of movement, it focusses on two issues: (i) why can traces not be phonetically realized?; and (ii) what is the theoretical status of the operation Move in a system where syntactic objects are derivationally assembled? I propose that a chain cannot surface with more than one link phonetically realized because it cannot be linearized in accordance with Kayne's (1994) Linear Correspondence Axiom. Assuming that the head of a chain and its trace(s) are nondistinct copies, they induce violations of the irreflexivity ...

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This thesis is concerned with developing a syntax for coordinate structures which is compatible with both the syntactic behaviour of conjunction structures and with their semantics. It argues that coordinate structures are asymmetrical, hierarchical structures that conform with X-bar theory. The conjunction head projects a phrase which is adjoined to the first conjunct. This provides an account of a number of syntactic asymmetries in conjunct ordering including agreement and binding asymmetries and provides a principled analysis of Across-the-Board extraction as instances of parasitic gaps. It further argues that the Coordinate Structure Constraint cannot be a syntactic constraint, but rather must ...

 
 

Control in modern Greek

Spyridoula Varlokosta

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Reflexives in Lithuanian

Lina Zilionyte