24.4431, Calls: Morphology, Syntax, Linguistic Theories/Poland

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LINGUIST List: Vol-24-4431. Thu Nov 07 2013. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 24.4431, Calls: Morphology, Syntax, Linguistic Theories/Poland

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Monica Macaulay, U of Wisconsin Madison
Rajiv Rao, U of Wisconsin Madison
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Date: Thu, 07 Nov 2013 09:23:50
From: Karen De Clercq [Karen.declercq at ugent.be]
Subject: Nanosyntax: How Going Fine-Grained Enables a Better Understanding of Language

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Full Title: Nanosyntax: How Going Fine-Grained Enables a Better Understanding of Language 

Date: 11-Sep-2014 - 14-Sep-2014
Location: Poznań, Poland 
Contact Person: Amélie Rocquet, Eric Lander and Karen De Clercq
Meeting Email: karen.declercq at ugent.be
Web Site: http://www.sle2014.eu/ 

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories; Morphology; Syntax 

Call Deadline: 25-Nov-2013 

Meeting Description:

This workshop will bring together researchers who take the nanosyntactic
approach to language. The aims of the workshop are to discuss both old and new
data from a nanosyntactic perspective, to highlight the advantages of this
approach and to discuss its consequences.

About Nanosyntax:

The theory of Nanosyntax (Starke 2009, 2011a, b; Caha 2009) is built on a radical implementation of the cartographic tenet according to which every (morphosyntactic/semantic) feature is a head (‘one feature, one head’ Cinque & Rizzi 2008: 50). More concretely, it assumes that all individual features project their own structural layers and combine into binary-branching trees. As a consequence, Nanosyntax takes the atoms of syntax to be smaller than previously thought: in fact, the atoms are submorphemic. This is contrary to the mainstream view that morphemes are inserted into terminal nodes.

An example to illustrate this comes from French (Starke 2011a: 4-5, 2011b). The French verb forms (il) entr-a ‘(he) has entered’ and (il) entr-ait ‘(he) entered’ both express past tense, but entr-a (the passé simple) expresses perfective aspect, whereas entr-ait (the imparfait) does not. In Nanosyntax, this is interpreted as showing that features for both tense (T) and aspect (Asp) must be packaged into the portmanteau morpheme -a in entra. Furthermore, the features T and Asp must be merged in a particular order (dictated by the functional sequence). Evidence for this order comes for instance from the fact that languages which realize aspect and tense agglutinatively, e.g. Russian, always do so in a given order (Schmidtke 2006, Dahl & Velupillai 2011, Dryer 2011), with the Asp-morpheme closer to the stem than the T-morpheme. Such examples have led to the claim that T is higher than Asp in the hierarchy (for more discussion see also Tenny 1987, Cinque 1999, Harwood 2013). In nanosyntactic terms the morpheme -a in French entra thus spells out the phrasal constituent [TP [AspP]]. More precisely, Nanosyntax assumes that there exists in the lexicon a vocabulary item which pairs the phonological form /a/ with the syntactic structure [TP [AspP]]. When the structure [TP [AspP]] is built in syntax, it can be lexicalized by the morpheme -a since the syntactic and lexically stored structures match.

In Nanosyntax when two readings are lexicalized by the same morpheme, this means that the underlying structures associated with these readings are in a subset/superset relation with one another (Caha 2009, Pantcheva 2011, Starke 2009, 2011). More precisely, Nanosyntax allows for a lexically stored structure to match a syntactic structure if the latter is a subset of the former. For instance, in the domain of Case, the Hungarian morpheme -val syncretizes comitative and instrumental readings. The lexically stored structure of -val is shown in (1). Importantly, the structure in (1) contains the structure of the instrumental case, which is shown in (2). Thus the instrumental structure in (2) can be spelled out by the same morpheme that lexicalizes the comitative case.

(1) [Comitative[Instrumental[Dative[Genitive[Accusative[Nominative]]]]]
(Caha 2009: 24) 

(2) [Instrumental[Dative[Genitive[Accusative[Nominative]]]]]

The nanosyntactic perspective has also led to a more precise understanding of phenomena such as case-marking (Caha 2009), the interaction of prepositions and verbal prefixes/particles in Slavic and Germanic (Pantcheva 2012), the syncretism patterns in English tense, aspect and voice markers (Starke 2011ab), deverbal nominalizations (Fábregas 2012), the internal structure of wh-expressions (Vangsnes 2011, Baunaz 2012, 2013) and wh-movement (Starke 2011b), the order and scope of derivational and inflectional verbal affixes in Bantu (Muriungi 2008), clausal complementation (Franco 2012), the relation between sentential and constituent negation (De Clercq 2013), differential object marking and nominal possession (Rocquet 2013), and the reinforced demonstrative in the Old Germanic languages (Lander, in prep.).

 Questions we would like to see addressed include (but are not limited to) the following:

1. The study of syncretisms has proven a useful tool for uncovering the fine-grained hierarchical structure of case morphemes (Caha 2009), path morphemes (Pantcheva 2011), class-markers in Bantu languages (Taraldsen 2010) and negation (De Clercq 2013), among others. Syncretisms also appear in other domains, such as phi-features and complementizers. What kind of syncretisms are there? What do they reveal about the internal structure of vocabulary items? What are the implications for the functional sequences at stake?

2. Most research on syncretisms is restricted to syncretisms within one domain, as illustrated by the Hungarian case syncretism discussed above. However, syncretisms are not limited to members of a single grammatical category (Baerman et al. 2005: 103ff, Caha & Pantcheva 2012). For instance, in Russian, the masculine singular instrumental endings on adjectives have the same form as their plural dative counterparts (cf. Nóv-ym 'newMASC.INSTR.SG/MASC.DAT.PL'). This syncretism involves two dimensions, case and number, and thus two functional sequences. How do we model the ordering of these two functional sequences in order to capture the existence of this syncretism (Caha & Pantcheva 2012, Taraldsen 2012, van Craenenbroeck 2012)? In other words, what do cross-categorial syncretisms tell us about the underlying structure of morphemes? More generally, the question arises how multiple functional sequences are combined. 

3. In nanosyntax the need to lexicalize syntactic structures can trigger what is known as spellout driven movement. If no match between the structures in syntax and the lexicon can be found, then the syntactic structure can be altered by movement to enable spell out. Are spellout-driven movements different from non-spellout-driven (e.g. feature-driven) ones? If they are, the following questions arise. Where do spellout-driven movements stop and non-spellout-driven movements start? Whereas in Minimalism (Chomsky 2000, 2001) feature-driven movement is taken to arise from an Agree relation between the features of two heads, in Nanosyntax all features project their own layers. How, then, do we capture agreement or non-spellout-driven movements in Nanosyntax? 

4. Given the idea that each feature corresponds to one projection, the question arises whether both lexical and functional vocabulary items should be entirely decomposed into multiple, individual features. That is, does the nanosyntactic perspective imply that there is no principled difference between lexical and functional categories? If so, this raises the issue of why lexical items are more malleable and coercable than functional categories (Borer 2005ab, van Craenenbroeck 2012). How can these differences be captured in Nanosyntax?

Call for Papers: 

We would like to organize a workshop on Nanosyntax at Societas Linguistica Europea 2014, which will take place September 11-14, 2014 at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland (http://www.sle2014.eu/). 

Before the proposal can be submitted for review it needs to be supplemented with abstracts from potential speakers. Therefore we invite anyone who would like to participate in this workshop to submit a 300-word abstract related to the workshop proposal to amelie.rocquet at ugent.be by November 25, 2013. 

If the workshop is accepted, we will invite you to submit a fleshed out version of your abstract (max. 500 words) via the SLE website by January 15, 2014. 

For more information, please, contact the workshop convenors:

Amélie Rocquet: amelie.rocquet at ugent.be 
Eric Lander: eric.lander at ugent.be
Karen De Clercq: karen.declercq at ugent.be


Baunaz, Lena. 2012. Wh-phrases in-situ: interface strategies. To be published in B. Suranyi (ed.) Local Domains at the Interfaces of Narrow Syntax. Ms, University of Geneva.
Baunaz, Lena. 2013. The structures of French complementizer que. Ms under review, University of Geneva.
Baermann, Matthew, Dunstan Brown & Greville Corbett. 2005. The syntax-morphology interface - A study of syncretisms. Cambridge University Press. 
Borer, Hagit. 2005a. In Name Only. Structuring Sense, Volume I. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Borer, Hagit. 2005b. The Normal Course of Events. Structuring Sense, Volume II. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Caha, Pavel. 2009. The nanosyntax of case. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Tromsø.
Caha, Pavel & Marina Pantcheva. 2012. Contiguity beyond linearity - Modeling cross-dimensional syncretisms. Talk presented at the Workshop on the representation and selection of exponents. CASTL, University of Tromsø. 
Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist enquiries. In Step by step: essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, ed. Roger Martin, David Michaels, and Juan Uriagareka, 89–156. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Derivation by phase. In Ken Hale: a life in language, eds. Michael Kenstowicz. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1–52.
Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and Functional Heads: a cross-linguistic perspective. Oxford: OUP.
Cinque, Guglielmo & Luigi Rizzi. 2008. The Cartography of Syntactic Structures. Studies in Linguistics Vol. 2/CISCL Working Papers. 42-58.
Craenenbroeck, Jeroen van. 2012. Challenges for Nanosyntax. Talk given at CASTL Decennium, University of Tromsø. 
Dahl, Östen & Velupillai, Viveka. 2011. Perfective/imperfective aspect. In The World Atlas of Language Structures Online, eds. Matthew Dryer and Martin Haspelmath, Max Planck Digital Library, Munich.
De Clercq, Karen. 2013. A unified syntax of negation. Doctoral Dissertation, Ghent University.
Dryer, Matthew. 2011. Position of tense-aspect axes. In The World Atlas of Language Structures Online, eds. Matthew Dryer and Martin Haspelmath, Max Planck Digital Library, Munich.
Fábregas, Antonio. 2012. Zero nouns with and without objects. Nordlyd 39.1. Special issue on The Grammar of Objects, eds. Kristine Bentzen and Antonio Fábregas. University of Tromsø. 63-94.
Harwood, William. 2013. Being Progressive is Just a Phase. Dividing the Functional Hierarchy. Doctoral Dissertation, Ghent University.
Lander, Eric. In prep. The nanosyntax of the Northwest Germanic reinforced demonstrative. Ms. Ghent University.
Ludovico, Franco. 2012. On Case and clauses: Subordination and the Spell-Out of non-terminals. Proceedings of the First Central European Conference in Linguistics for postgraduate Students 2012. 82–103.
Muriungi, Peter. 2008. Phrasal movement inside Bantu verbs - Deriving affix scope and order in Kîîtharaka. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Tromsø.
Pantcheva, Marina. 2011. Decomposing path: The nanosyntax of directional expressions. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Tromsø. 
Pantcheva, Marina. 2012. Deriving doubling, non-doubling and argument-changing prefixes. Talk given at the Workshop Prefix Verbs: The Impact of Preposition-like Elements on the Syntax and Semantics of Verbs at Stuttgart University. 
Rocquet, Amélie. 2013. Splitting Objects - A Nanosyntactic account of direct object marking. Doctoral Dissertation, Ghent University. 
Schmidtke, Karsten. 2006. A look beyond English: Tense and Aspect Systems in Languages of the World. Lecture notes, Tense and Aspect, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena.
Starke, Michal. 2009. Nanosyntax: a short primer to a new approach to language. Nordlyd 36 1: 1-6.
Starke, Michal. 2011a. Towards elegant parameters: Language variation reduces to the size of lexically stored trees. Ms, Tromsø University. 
Starke, Michal. 2011b. Nanosyntax. Lecture series presented at GIST, Ghent University, November 2011.
Taraldsen, Tarald. 2010. The nanosyntax of Nguni noun class prefixes and concords. Lingua, Vol 120 (6).
Taraldsen, Tarald. 2012. *ABA and the representation of features in syntax. Talk presented at the 7th Brussels Conference of Generative Linguistics, December 16- 18 2012.
Tenny, Carol L. 1987. Grammaticalizing aspect and affectedness. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.
Vangsnes, Øystein. 2011. Syncretism and functional migration of Germanic wh-expressions. Paper presented at CGSW 26. University of Amsterdam, 23-24 June.

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