Ur Shlonsky (University of Geneva) & Caroline Heycock (University of Edinburgh)

Ling L: Puzzles of Inversion (advanced!)

Ur Shlonsky (University of Geneva) Caroline Heycock (University of Edinburgh)
Week 1: "Focus-fronting and its relation to inversion and ellipsis" (Ur Shlonsky, University of Geneva)

We’ll first look at the central role that focus-fronting plays in the circumvention of locality (Relativized Minimality) violations across a number of unrelated “constructions” such as inverse copular constructions (in many languages) and subject-object inversion (in Bantu). We’ll then study in detail the derivational steps triggered by focus-fronting to see how they collude in allowing a constituent, for example a direct object, to move over a vP-subject to an A position. Finally, we’ll look at the syntactic role that focus plays in licensing various kinds of ellipses.

Keywords: Focus-fronting, Locality theory, ellipsis

Week 2: “Inverse copular constructions and the syntax of agreement"  (Caroline Heycock, University of Edinburgh)

This week we’ll pick up on the inverse copular constructions that you met in week one (plus some “not-inverse” cases!) but now focus on one aspect in particular: the patterns of agreement that they show in some of the languages where they have been investigated. We’ll see that there are some striking cross-linguistic differences in how clashes in person and number between the two DPs are resolved - or indeed, whether there are cases where such clashes simply cannot be resolved (“ineffability”). We’ll look at different accounts of these agreement patterns and at what they may tell us more generally about the syntax of agreement. The hope is that you may be inspired to go and find out how some of these phenomena play out in languages that you work on, so that you can add to our understanding of how syntactic and morphological constraints may interact to yield different possible patterns of person and number agreement

Solid background in syntactic theory required