PSST 2022 Schedule and Abstracts

Location for all talks: Green Hall 1-C-4C (and online, on Zoom)
(See the main PSST 2022 page for information about registering, getting to Green Hall, etc. You can download a PDF of the schedule here.)

Please note that all times in are in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC-4:00). The current time for the Eastern US is given below.

Friday April 1, 2022
12:30 – 1:30pm — Lunch available (outside Green Hall 1-C-4C) 
1:40pm Byron Ahn and Laura Kalin (Princeton University) Welcome
1:45 – 2:30pm Ksenia Ershova (Stanford University) Unexpected A’-movement in West Circassian: Theoretical implications for syntactic ergativity
2:35 – 3:20pm Byron Ahn (Princeton University) Grammatical variation: Themself and themselves
3:20 – 3:45pm — Coffee Break —
3:45 – 4:30pm Milena Šereikaitė (Yale University) Voice and Case: Lessons from nominalizations without passives
4:35 – 5:20pm Maziar Toosarvandani (UC Santa Cruz) Clitic left dislocation in Sierra Zapotec varieties
Saturday April 2, 2022
8:45 – 9:15am — Breakfast available (outside Green Hall 1-C-4C)
9:15 – 10:00am Diti Bhadra (University of Minnesota) Argument structure and affectedness: Reversative un- and cyclic re- at the morphosyntax-semantics interface
10:05 – 10:50am Alec Marantz (NYU) A new approach to derivation and syntactic categories: Extending the i* system beyond functional heads
10:50 – 11:15am — Coffee Break —
11:15am – 12:00pm Heidi Harley (University of Arizona) Hiaki pluralia tantum, plural reference dominance and the ‘scale of individuation’
12:05 – 12:50pm Rajesh Bhatt (UMass, Amherst) Allosemy and atavism in the Hindi-Urdu honorific system
12:50 – 1:45pm — Lunch available (outside Green Hall 1-C-4C)
1:45 – 2:30pm Natasha Abner (University of Michigan) A manual for encoding events
2:35 – 3:20pm Line Mikkelsen (UC Berkeley) Backward resumption: The case of Karuk
3:20 – 3:45pm — Coffee Break —
3:45 – 4:30pm Mark Baker (Rutgers University) Control Theory and the relationship between logophoric pronouns and logophoric uses of anaphors
4:35 – 5:20pm Jason Merchant (University of Chicago) The Invisible Man vs. nominal ellipsis
5:20 – 6:45pm — Reception —

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Natasha Abner
“A manual for encoding events”

Events in the world unfold in different ways and the way we talk about the world reflects these differences. In this talk, I’ll present a series of studies that explore biases in how we talk about events, focusing on what happens when how we talk about events is with our hands. These studies examine (a) abstract linguistic structures that underlie both sign and speech, (b) modality effects that shape how these structures are manifested in signed versus spoken languages, and (c) patterns in gesture that suggest certain phenomena may be driven by broader communicative or cognitive biases and not restricted to language.

Mark Baker
“Control Theory and the relationship between logophoric pronouns and logophoric uses of anaphors”

(Joint work with Shiori Ikawa)

In this paper, we sharpen the understanding of the familiar comparison between dedicated logophoric pronouns in West African languages (specifically Ibibio) and long-distance uses of anaphors in IE and East Asian languages (specifically Japanese) and what it means theoretically. The comparison has several layers. The first layer is one of difference: dedicated logophors are indeed pronominal whereas anaphors are anaphoric with respect to the clause-internal interactions regulated by classical Binding theory. The second layer is one of striking similarity: both elements can be bound by a null DP operator in the clausal periphery, and the null operator in both cases undergoes obligatory control, yielding a characteristic logophoric pattern of antecedence for pro-forms contained in VP-internal clauses. The third layer is one of difference again: when null DP operators are in clauses that are not generated inside VPs, the logophoric operator in the African language is ruled out, whereas the anaphoric operator in the East Asian language can be assigned a prominent (empathetic) antecedent from the larger sentence or discourse. These layered patterns are a testimony to a robust universal grammar. First, UG provides for the licensing of null DP operators in the clausal periphery, a formal resource that languages can coopt for partly different functions. Second, UG provides the theory of obligatory control, which crucially distinguishes CP complements from CP subjects and adjuncts (Landau’s 2013 “OC signature”). In this form, it connects not only dedicated logophors and long distance anaphors, but also ordinary PRO, another specialized null DP at the edge of a clause.

Diti Bhadra
“Reversative un- and cyclic re- at the morphosyntax-semantics interface”

The affixes re- and un- have received some attention in the syntactic literature, where their affixation restrictions have been studied in terms of position of the affixes in a decompositional spine consisting of causation, result, and other functional heads. Consequently, these affixes have been sometimes given clitic status, attempting to explain their incompatibility with ditransitive, intransitive verbs, small clauses etc. In this talk, focusing on reversative un- and cyclic re-, I explore how the complexities of morphological decomposition often reveal very significant information about larger questions relating to event structure, aspectual distinctions, and scalar properties encoded at the interfaces of morphology and semantics, and how restrictions on affixation reveal deep-level synergy between syntax and semantics.

Rajesh Bhatt
“Allosemy and atavism in the Hindi-Urdu honorific system”

(Joint work with Chris Davis)

Click for abstract

Ksenia Ershova
“Unexpected A’-movement in West Circassian: Theoretical implications for syntactic ergativity”

Syntactic ergativity is broadly defined as the sensitivity of syntactic rules to the distinction between subjects of transitive verbs (= ergative) on the one hand and objects of transitive verbs and subjects of intransitive verbs (= absolutive) on the other hand. The defining property of syntactically ergative languages is taken to be the ergative extraction constraint: while absolutive arguments are accessible for extraction, A’-movement of the ergative argument is ungrammatical (Deal 2016; Polinsky 2017, a.o.). A prominent analysis of syntactic ergativity involves the movement of the absolutive object to a position above the ergative agent (Aldridge 2004,2008; Coon et al. 2014,2021; Tollan and Clemens 2021, a.o.). In this talk, I argue that high absolutive syntax does not straightforwardly predict the ergative extraction constraint. Despite appearing to be a drawback of this approach, I claim that this is a desirable aspect of the theory. I support this claim with data from West Circassian, a language that displays syntactic ergativity in a range of grammatical domains but does not display a ban on ergative extraction.

Heidi Harley
“Hiaki pluralia tantum, plural reference dominance and the ‘scale of individuation’”

The Hiaki language has an extensive class of ‘pluralia tantum’ nouns, roughly 20% of the nominal headwords in the Molina et al (1999) dictionary. We show that they nearly all fall into predictable semantic classes, that they provide (another) argument based on Corbett’s Agreement Hierarchy that suppletive number agreement in Hiaki is not formal agreement, that the semantic categories that are subject to PT marking map well onto Grimm 2018’s ‘Individuation Hierarchy’, and that they provide a clear argument against a frequentist/functionalist approach to morphological markedness like that proposed by Mattausch 2007 and espoused by Farkas and de Swart 2010, at least in this domain. We propose a feature-based DM analysis that captures the formal properties of the PT phenomenon in Hiaki.

Alec Marantz
“A new approach to derivation and syntactic categories: Extending the i* system beyond functional heads”

Why don’t we have complex event nominalizations which include the syntax of verb phrases but the extended projection of nouns, with number, quantifiers and definiteness (*the many destructions the city)? An answer implicit in many analyses is that the nominalization process involves syntactic head-movement of a verb to an N head, with the consequence of destroying the VP structure and changing grammatical relations (what was the object of the verb is now the complement of an N). However, having head movement change grammatical relations was motivated by (Relational Grammar inspired) accounts of causatives and applicatives, which have now been abandoned in favor of superior alternatives. Moreover, the head-movement VP-destroying analysis of English and Icelandic complex event nominalizations has been shown to be misguided by Wood (to appear; book on Icelandic nominalizations). If we give up the possibility that the nominalization process itself necessarily changes grammatical relations, we need a different account of the non-existence of our “mixed” nominalizations “*the many destructions the city.” Here I propose a “new” analysis of syntactic categories (cobbled together from existing accounts, in particular Shushurin’s 2021 NYU dissertation) that effectively rules out these constructions. I separate the internal structure of lexical categories into two domains, a purely formal lower domain and the higher domain of the extended projection, which is grounded in semantics. A verbal lower domain can only project a verbal extended projection, a nominal lower domain a nominal extended projection. One can find a formal “nominalizing” feature in the extended projection of a verb, as in English gerunds. But these formal features by themselves, without a root, cannot generate an extended projection of a noun (with plurals, definiteness, etc.). If we add a root to formal nominal head, creating a derivation affix, before trying to use this formal feature to nominalize a verb, we find we can only create a very low nominalization by attaching this derivational affix to a verb, a nominalization which is built on an incomplete verb (no voice) and thus can only support nominal syntax. The framework developed here leads to a new understanding (potentially wrong, of course) of derivational morphology and of the distribution of roots in syntactic and word structures.

Jason Merchant
“The Invisible Man vs. nominal ellipsis”

When a nominal phrase is missing its head noun, this may be the result either of nominal or subnominal ellipsis, or of the nominalization of an adjective (or other DP-internal material). While the former strategy is very productive, the latter is more restricted. The two strategies can be distinguished by a number of diagnostics (involving agreement, extraction, selection, modification, inflection, animacy, and kind-restrictions). A close investigation of the patterns in German, English, and Greek reveals substantial differences that can be accounted for by positing that German and Greek have “invisible men” (and women) in their lexica, while English lacks these phonologically null nouns, with implications for the syntax of nominal number and gender. Puzzles remain, though: English “one”-anaphora is an intermediate case, appearing to allow for selected arguments, but not for their extraction. And while the nouns in Greek and German for ‘child’ are neuter, no neuter null nominal variants are possible: there are no “invisible children.” Where have all the invisible children gone?

Line Mikkelsen
“Backward resumption: The case of Karuk”

In this talk I examine obligatory backward resumption in Karuk (kyh; isolate), a verb-final language of Northern California, and argue that it is the result of conflicting word-order requirements. This conceptual analysis is further developed within the chain-resolution framework of Landau 2006, in which resumption is the result of partial deletion. The Karuk facts indicate that partial deletion targets spellout domains and not phases, contra van Urk 2018. Examination of two case studies from the literature and a reinterpretation of the Dinka resumption data discussed in van Urk 2018 further demonstrate that partial deletion of spellout domains has broader empirical coverage than partial deletion of phases. The second part of the talk pivots to the predictions made by the chain-resolution analysis about alternatives to backward resumption. These predictions are shown to be borne out in three other verb-final languages, namely Hindi-Urdu, Persian, and Turkish. The article closes with an examination of the parallels between backward resumption and regular forward resumption and concludes that both may be derived by movement or by base-generation of a proform.

Milena Šereikaitė
“Voice and Case: Lessons from nominalizations without passives”

Click for abstract

Maziar Toosarvandani
“Clitic left dislocation in Sierra Zapotec varieties”

In clitic left dislocation (CLLD), a constituent is displaced to a left-peripheral position, where it receives an interpretation that is mediated by a clitic pronoun. While CLLD is found in many languages, it has been studied most intensively in Romance and Greek (as well as Semitic and Slavic to some extent), where it exhibits a puzzling mix of grammatical properties (Cinque 1990, Demirdache 1991, Anagnostopoulou 1994, Iatridou 1995, among others). Some diagnostics suggest the absence of movement in CLLD (e.g., no weak crossover or parasitic gap licensing), while others point to a role for (Aʹ-)movement (e.g., island sensitivity, reconstruction for scope and variable binding, as well as Condition C). Moreover, these movement diagnostics do not even always align in any given language.

I examine CLLD in a group of closely related southeastern Sierra Zapotec varieties, whose properties do not cluster in the same way as in its counterparts. It obeys islands and exhibits scope reconstruction, suggesting a clear role for phrasal movement, though it fails to exhibit Condition C reconstruction effects in some environments. I aim for an account of CLLD in Zapotec which unifies it with parallel sentence types as involving phrasal movement, and I explore ways in which the attested variation might derive from independent attributes of the languages involved. This fits into an approach in which CLLD is not characterized by a primitive inventory of properties: in any given language, its properties derive from the general mechanics of movement and how these interact with language-specific grammatical settings. This parallels efforts to derive the properties of various phrasal movements (including “mixed” types like scrambling, as well as the traditional A vs. Aʹ distinction) from independent grammatical principles (Takahashi & Hulsey 2009, van Urk 2015, Bhatt & Keine 2019, Gong 2021, and others).

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