Dissertations

This dissertation explores the relationship between the parser and the grammar in error-driven retrieval by examining the mechanism underlying the illusory licensing of subject-verb agreement violations (‘agreement attraction’). Previous work motivates a two-stage model of agreement attraction in which the parser predicts the verb’s number and engages in retrieval of the agreement controller only when it detects a mismatch between the prediction and the bottom-up input (Wagers, Lau & Phillips, 2009; Lago, Shalom, Sigman, Lau & Phillips, 2015). It is the second stage of retrieval and feature-checking that is thought to be error-prone, resulting in agreement attraction. Here we investigate two ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with how elliptical sentences are generated. To be specific, I investigate when and in what module ellipsis occurs, and what is elided as a result of ellipsis. With regard to the first research question, I propose that XP ellipsis occurs as soon as all the featural requirements of the licensor of XP ellipsis are satisfied during the derivation, rather than in the other modules. An important consequence of this proposal is that the point of XP ellipsis can vary depending on the derivational point where all the featural requirements of the licensor are satisfied in narrow ...

 

This dissertation focuses on when and how children learn about the meanings of the propositional attitude verbs "know" and "think". "Know" and "think" both express belief. But they differ in their veridicality: "think" is non-veridical and can report a false belief; but "know" can only report true beliefs because it is a veridical verb. Furthermore, the verbs differ in their factivity: uses of "x knows p", but not uses of "x thinks p", typically presuppose the truth of "p", because "know" is factive and "think" is not. How do children figure out these subtle differences between the verbs, given that ...

 

On experiencers and minimality

Carolina Petersen

This dissertation is concerned with experiencer arguments, and what they tell us about the grammar. There are two main types of experiencers I discuss: experiencers of psychological verbs and experiencers of raising constructions. I question the notion of ‘experiencers’ itself; and explore some possible accounts for the ‘psych-effects’. I argue that the ‘experiencer theta role’ is conceptually unnecessary and unsustained by syntactic evidence. ‘Experiencers’ can be reduced to different types of arguments. Taking Brazilian Portuguese as my main case study, I claim that languages may grammaticalize psychological predicates and their arguments in different ways. These verb classes exist in languages ...

 

Humans use their grammatical knowledge in more than one way. On one hand, they use it to understand what others say. On the other hand, they use it to say what they want to convey to others (or to themselves). In either case, they need to assemble the structure of sentences in a systematic fashion, in accordance with the grammar of their language. Despite the fact that the structures that comprehenders and speakers assemble are systematic in an identical fashion (i.e., obey the same grammatical constraints), the two ‘modes’ of assembling sentence structures might or might not be performed ...

 

This dissertation uses children’s acquisition of adjunct control as a case study to investigate grammatical and performance accounts of language acquisition. In previous research, children have consistently exhibited non-adultlike behavior for sentences with adjunct control. To explain children’s behavior, several different grammatical accounts have been proposed, but evidence for these accounts has been inconclusive. In this dissertation, I take two approaches to account for children’s errors.

First, I spell out the predictions of previous grammatical accounts, and test these predictions after accounting for some methodological concerns that might have influenced children’s behavior in previous studies. While ...

 

In order to understand the nature of a given linguistic phenomena in the adult grammar, language acquisition research explores how children’s competence with respect to such a phenomena develops. However, diagnosing competence can be challenging because it is not directly observable. Researchers only have access to performance, which is mediated by additional factors and is not a direct reflection of competence. In this dissertation, I explore a case study of children’s early syntactic knowledge. My in-depth analysis of Principle C at 30 months provides novel insights into diagnostics for underlying competence by utilizing two distinct methods of analysis ...

 

This dissertation explores the role of morphological and syntactic variation in sentence comprehension across languages. While most previous research has focused on how cross-linguistic differences affect the control structure of the language architecture (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005) here we adopt an explicit model of memory, content-addressable memory (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005; McElree, 2006) and examine how cross-linguistic variation affects the nature of the representations and processes that speakers deploy during comprehension. With this goal, we focus on two kinds of grammatical dependencies that involve an interaction between language and memory: subject-verb agreement and referential pronouns. In the first part of this dissertation ...

 

In this dissertation I present a model that captures categorical effects in both first language (L1) and second language (L2) speech perception. In L1 perception, categorical effects range between extremely strong for consonants to nearly continuous perception of vowels. I treat the problem of speech perception as a statistical inference problem and by quantifying categoricity I obtain a unified model of both strong and weak categorical effects. In this optimal inference mechanism, the listener uses their knowledge of categories and the acoustics of the signal to infer the intended productions of the speaker. The model splits up speech variability into ...

 

Measuring Predicates

Alexis Wellwood

Determining the semantic content of sentences, and uncovering regularities between linguistic form and meaning, requires attending to both morphological and syntactic properties of a language with an eye to the notional categories that the various pieces of form express. In this dissertation, I investigate the morphosyntactic devices that English speakers (and speakers of other languages) can use to talk about comparisons between things: comparative sentences with, in English, more... than, as... as, too, enough, and others. I argue that a core component of all of these constructions is a unitary element expressing the concept of measurement.

The theory that I ...

 

This thesis attempts to assimilate head movement as far as possible to phrasal movement. In particular, I argue that if we assume that the computational system of natural languages does not discriminate head movement from phrasal movement in terms of locality and the possible mode of operation, a distributional difference between these two types of movement can be explained by the interaction between a locality constraint and an anti-locality constraint to which syntactic movement operations are subject, and crosslinguistic variations in the possibility of what I will call headless XP-movement and headless XP-ellipsis can be reduced to parameters that are ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with the cognitive mechanisms that are used to encode and navigate linguistic structure. Successful language understanding requires mechanisms for efficiently encoding and navigating linguistic structure in memory. The timing and accuracy of linguistic dependency formation provides valuable insights into the cognitive basis of these mechanisms. Recent research on linguistic dependency formation has revealed a profile of selective fallibility: some linguistic dependencies are rapidly and accurately implemented, but others are not, giving rise to “linguistic illusions”. This profile is not expected under current models of grammar or language processing. The broad consensus, however, is that the profile ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

Similarity in L2 Phonology

Shannon Barrios

Adult second language (L2) learners often experience di⇤culty producing and perceiving non-native phonological contrasts. Even highly proficient bilinguals, who have been exposed to an L2 for long periods of time, struggle with difficult contrasts, such as /r/-/l/ for Japanese learners of English. To account for the relative ease or diffculty with which L2 learners perceive and acquire non-native contrasts, theories of (L2) speech perception often appeal to notions of similarity. But how is similarity best determined?

In this dissertation I explored the predictions of two theoretical approaches to similarity comparison in the second language, and asked: [1] How ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 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 ...

 

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 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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 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 ...

 

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 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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 ...

 

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 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

 

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 ...

 

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 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

 
 
 

The syntax of tense

Ellen Thompson

 
 

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 ...

 
 
 

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 ...