Browsing Linguistics by Subject "agreement"
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- ItemThe Agreement Theta Generalization(Ubiquity Press, 2019-08-29) Polinsky, Maria; Preminger, OmerIn this paper, we propose a new generalization concerning the structural relationship between a head that agrees with a DP in φ-features and the predicate that assigns the (first) thematic role to that DP: the Agreement Theta Generalization (ATG). According to the ATG, configurations where the thematic-role assigner is located in a higher clause than the agreeing head are categorically excluded. We present empirical evidence for the ATG, discuss its analytical import, and show that this generalization bears directly on the proper modeling of syntactic agreement, as well as the prospects for reducing other syntactic (and syntacto-semantic) dependencies to the same underlying mechanism.
- ItemCoordination without grammar-internal feature resolution(2021) Lyskawa, Paulina; Polinsky, Maria; Preminger, Omer; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)Morphological agreement with coordinate phrases involves a computation that takes as its input a set of features from each conjunct and outputs exactly one resolved set of features (number, person, grammatical gender/noun class, commonly labelled phi-features). Such resolution is typically taken to be grammar-internal because it relies on other grammar-internal ingredients (phi-features, agreement, coordination), and at least in some instances seems to follow systematic rules that may be captured by familiar grammatical operations. Exceptions to these apparent rules, if not ignored altogether, have received disparate analyses depending on the language, framework, and the particular features involved. In this thesis, I argue that it is such exceptions that are illuminating, and that the appearance of rigid rules is misleading. Treating variation in agreement with coordinate phrases as exceptional with respect to the otherwise deterministic output rules either delays the task of explaining the surface data, or risks weakening the language competence theory by adding the baroque stipulations that a purely grammar-internal treatment would require. Phi-agreement with coordinate phrases is subject to inter- and intra-speaker variability and ineffability; such variation is widespread in the world’s languages, even the ones with limited phi-agreement morphology like English. I therefore reject the grammar-internal approach to agreement with coordinate phrases and argue instead that the agreement morphology we observe on the surface is due to grammar-external mechanisms being recruited to determine the resulting agreement morphology. Under this approach, systematicity in agreement with coordinations is only apparent and can be manipulated. The reason a grammar-internal mechanism is unavailable is because it would have to take place on the agreeing head (e.g., Infl0 or v0), and what we know about agreement between a syntactic head and multiple arguments (e.g., from omnivorous agreement and the Person Case Constraint) renders it ill-suited for the task of coordination resolution.
- ItemMEMORY AND PREDICTION IN CROSS-LINGUISTIC SENTENCE COMPREHENSION(2014) Lago, Maria S.; Phillips, Colin; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)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, we use the self-paced reading method to examine how the processing of subject-verb agreement in Spanish, a language with a rich morphological system, differs from English. We show that differences in morphological richness across languages impact prediction processes while leaving retrieval processes fairly preserved. In the second part, we examine the processing of coreference in German, a language that, in contrast with English, encodes gender syntactically. We use eye-tracking to compare comprehension profiles during coreference and we find that only speakers of German show evidence of semantic reactivation of a pronoun's antecedent. This suggests that retrieval of semantic information is dependent on syntactic gender, and demonstrates that German and English speakers retrieve qualitatively different antecedent representations from memory. Taken together, these results suggest that cross-linguistic variation in comprehension is more affected by the content than the functional importance of gender and number features across languages.
- ItemA Structural Theory of Derivations(2018) Stone, Zachary; Lasnik, Howard; Linguistics; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)Operations which take in tuples of syntactic objects and assign them output syntactic objects are used to formalize the generative component of most formal grammars in the minimalist tradition. However, these models do not usually include information which relates the structure of the input and output objects explicitly. We develop a very general formal model of grammars which includes this structural change data, and also allows for richer dependency structures such as feature geometry and feature-sharing. Importantly, syntactic operations involving phrasal attachment selection, agreement, licensing, head-adjunction, etc. can all be captured as special kinds of structural changes, and hence we can analyze them using a uniform technique. Using this data, we give a rich theory of isomorphisms, equivalences, and substructures of syntactic objects, structural changes, derivations, rules, grammars, and languages. We show that many of these notions, while useful, are technically difficult or impossible to state in prior models. It is immediately possible to define grammatical notions like projection, agreement, selection, etc. structurally in a manner preserved under equivalences of various sorts. We use the richer structure of syntactic objects to give a novel characterization of c-command naturally arising from this structure. We use the richer structure of rules to give a general theory of structural analyses and generating structural changes. Our theory of structural analyses makes it possible to extract from productions what structure is targeted by a rule and what conditions a rule can apply in, regardless of the underlying structure of syntactic objects or the kinds of phrasal and featural manipulations performed, where other formal models have difficulty incorporating such structure-sensitive rules. This knowledge of structural changes also makes it possible to extend rules to new objects straightforwardly. Our theory of structural changes allows us to deconstruct them into component parts and show relationships between operations which are missed by models lacking this data. Finally, we extend the model to a copying theory of movement. We implement a traditional model of copying ‘online’, where copies and chains are formed throughout the course of the derivation (while still admitting a feature calculus in the objects themselves). Part of what allows for this is having a robust theory of substructures of derived objects and how they are related throughout a derivation. We show consequences for checking features in chains and feature-sharing.
- ItemWhat the PCC tells us about “abstract” agreement, head movement, and locality(Ubiquity Press, 2019-01-24) Preminger, OmerBased on the cross- and intra-linguistic distribution of Person Case Constraint (PCC) effects, this paper shows that there can be no agreement in ϕ-features (person, number, gender/noun-class) which systematically lacks a morpho-phonological footprint. That is, there is no such thing as “abstract” ϕ-agreement, null across the entire paradigm. Applying the same diagnostic to instances of clitic doubling, we see that these do involve syntactic agreement. This cannot be because clitic doubling is agreement; it behaves like movement (and unlike agreement) in a variety of respects. Nor can this be because clitic doubling, qua movement, is contingent on prior agreement—since the claim that all movement depends on prior agreement is demonstrably false. Clitic doubling requires prior agreement because it is an instance of non-local head movement, and movement of X0 to Y0 always requires a prior syntactic relationship between Y0 and XP. In local head movement (the kind that is already permitted under the Head Movement Constraint), this requirement is trivially satisfied by (c-)selection. But in non-local cases, agreement must fill this role.