Other Project Descriptions

Papers and handouts for all projects, including the ones described here, can be found on this page.
Descriptions of projects involving skills-based grading, nominal evaluation times, Hän, and Tatar can be found on their respective pages.

Tense in Cleft Constructions

No previous account of clefts discusses the tense of the matrix copula; in any of these theories, (1) and (2) have the same formal meaning:

(1) It was John that died.
(2) It is John that died.

This work incorporates matrix tense into Büring & Križ 's (2013) cleft operator, after showing that the matrix tense in cleft constructions shows all of the same behavior as tenses on matrix attitude verbs, including sequence of tense, double access effects, and cessation implicatures.

Click on the left PDF to read my MA thesis on the subject, or the right PDF for a condensed handout presented at California Universities Semantics and Pragmatics Workshop in 2017.

MA Final Filing Copy 2017.pdf
CUSP Handout 1.pdf
UNC Handout.pdf

Semantic Roles and Binding

Minkoff (2000) presents data that suggests that not all antecedents are equal in binding:

(1) Maryi caused herselfi to become notorious.
(2) *The plutoniumi caused itselfi to become notorious.

This data shows a discrepancy in behavior between subjects that actively or passively cause the event at hand. The "passive" subjects cannot behave as antecedents in binding relationships, except when binding into adjuncts.
The difference in behavior between active and passive causers mirrors the same divide in anticausative constructions in other languages, which is explained by passive causers originating as the specifier of a high applicative phrase. I propose that we can explain this data as follows: the relevant binding constraint on "passive" subjects is checked prior to late merge; binding from the specifier position of a high applicative phrase prior to late merge results in ungrammaticality.


Evidentiality Conditioned Partial WH-Movement

Languages that allow partial wh-movement seem to limit the types of verbs that can occur in the matrix clause of such a construction. Theories have previously been presented that constrain matrix verbs to the set of verbs that can take [-WH] complements or the set of verbs that allow extraction out of their complements. However, in this paper, we have seen that neither description is totally sufficient to describe the limitations on matrix verbs in scope marking constructions.

Data from German partial wh-movement constructions and German and English sequential questions suggests that matrix verbs in scope marking constructions must be both bridge verbs and have the property of being evidential. The fact that this generalization carries across two languages supports Dayal’s (2000) theory that scope marking and its properties are universal.