Linguistics Job Talk: Erik Zyman

WhenApril 17, 2018 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
WhereRosenwald Hall, Room 011
Contact InformationLinguistics Department
DescriptionThe Rich Syntax of Grammatical Relations: Raising and Hyperraising in P'urhepecha

A crucial task for syntactic theory is to determine what syntactic operations are made available by the human capacity for language, what their properties are, and why they have the properties they do. This talk aims to bring us closer to that goal by pushing forward our understanding of how the unusually rich syntax of grammatical relations in P'urhepecha emerges from those operations (movement and agreement, among others) and the network of interactions they define among elements of the functional vocabulary of the language. P'urhepecha is an isolate of Mexico, and the work reported on here grows out of an extensive fieldwork engagement with the language (and specifically with the variety spoken by the community on the island of Janitzio on Lake Pátzcuaro in Michoacán). I first focus on the syntax of subjecthood in Janitzio P'urhepecha, highlighting the ways in which that syntax seems very different from its counterparts in better-studied languages, and how it can be understood in an interesting way within the frame of reference with which we began. I then turn to the object relation and argue that Janitzio P'urhepecha permits hyperraising to object—i.e., subject-to-object raising out of a finite embedded clause (cf. Tanaka 2002, Halpert & Zeller 2015, Deal 2017, Fong 2018). I develop an analysis of this phenomenon (which was once thought not to exist) on which it involves two steps of movement, both driven by properties of functional heads (C and v) that attract an accessible nominal into their immediate domain. The phenomenon provides an argument that movement can be driven entirely by a property of a c-commanding head rather than by a property of the moving element itself (shedding some new light on a much-disputed issue). The analysis also contributes to forcing a rethinking of a fundamental issue in syntactic theory, namely how we are to understand the difference between two classes of movement: the A- and the Ā-movements (the cyclic NP movements and unbounded dependencies of earlier work). An overarching theme of the talk is that there is no reason why important theoretical insights cannot flow from careful and engaged fieldwork on small languages.
CategoriesConferences/Lectures, Lectures
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