Coyote Papers: Volume 17 (2010)
ABOUT THE COLLECTION
Coyote Papers: Working Papers in Linguistics is a publication of the Linguistics Circle, the Graduate Student Organization of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona.
Volume 17: Proceedings of the Arizona Linguistics Circle 3. (2010). Edited by Alan Hogue and Jessamyn Schertz.
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The acquisition of verbs by English-learning infants(University of Arizona Linguistics Circle, 2010)This paper starts by introducing the debate between the nativist account and the learning account of language acquisition. It participates in the debate by addressing three questions concerning verb productivity. First, do young children have abstract syntactic knowledge of the verb category? Second, is vocabulary size a good predictor for a child’s syntactic productivity? Third, is children’s speech correlated with adults’ speech with regard to verb productivity? It is predicted that, if the limited scope learning account is right, the following should be expected: (1) frequent verbs and infrequent verbs are expected to have different productivity in children’s speech; (2) verb productivity in child speech is significantly lower than that in adult speech; (3) frequent verbs and infrequent verbs behave differently in terms with the correlation between verb productivity and an individual’s vocabulary size; (4) children and adults are correlated with regard to verb productivity. The analyses based on large longitudinal data in this paper confirm all the above predictions, suggesting that a learning approach of language acquisition for verb usage is supported.
Relativization in Aramaic-Syriac(University of Arizona Linguistics Circle, 2010)This paper is a preliminary approach to relativization in Syriac, which is a dialect of Aramaic, a Semitic language of the Afro-Asiatic family. This study will concentrate on the morpheme ‘d-’ as a “relative morpheme”. In the introduction I will quote other dialects of Aramaic, including oriental/Westerner and neo-Aramaic.
On nominal arguments(University of Arizona Linguistics Circle, 2010)This paper presents a formal account of the critical difference between standard nominalization and “mixed nominalization” (aka. nominal gerunds) of Chomsky (1970). Using patterns of morphological/syntactic distribution, binding properties, polarity effects and lexical semantic variation, I show that nominal gerunds which have been considered to be near identical to derived nominals are in fact quite distinct. I show that “object arguments” (understood objects of the root) of nominal gerunds fail every test of argumenthood and that the structural relations within these constructions are significantly different than those of derived nominals and verb phrases.
The contrastive reading of Japanese -wa, and the role of information structure(University of Arizona Linguistics Circle, 2010)In this study, I investigate the distribution of the contrastive reading associated with the so-called Japanese topic marker –wa. The main goal is two-fold. First, I examine two previous approaches, which I call the “predicate-based approach,” and the “argument-based approach” respectively, and demonstrate that they are not sufficient to capture some empirical data. Second, based on the observation that wa-phrases in all-focus and subject-focus sentences induce the contrastive reading, I argue and demonstrate that the contrastive reading arises when wa-phrases are part of focus.
Adjective ordering restrictions: exploring relevant semantic notions for syntactic ordering(University of Arizona Linguistics Circle, 2010)I propose that ordering restrictions among adjectives (e.g., the big gray poodle) are driven by the covert syntactic complexity of the adjectival projections. The more complex the projection containing the adjective, the higher in the structure it must merge. Intersective adjectives (gray) merge with the NP, and non-intersective adjectives (big) merge also with a covert for-PP that contains a copy of the NP. This differs from the usual approaches to adjective ordering, which turn to fine-grained semantic subclasses (e.g. height, length, color) or functional heads in the DP to explain adjective ordering restrictions.