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Conference Information

Full Title: DGfS Workshop: Interaction of Syntactic Primitives

Location: Potsdam, Germany
Start Date: 13-Mar-2013 - 15-Mar-2013
Contact: Anke Assmann
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: Interaction of Syntactic Primitives
Workshop at the 35th Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS)

Recent research in syntax has shown which theoretical primitives (rules, constraints, constructions, operations and orderings) are available in different frameworks (Minimalism, Construction Grammar, HPSG, LFG, Optimality Theory) to derive syntactic phenomena. These findings enable us to explore possible interactions of theoretical primitives in the respective frameworks.

The goal of this workshop is to facilitate the discourse between proponents of different theories concerning the question which primitives (rules, constraints, constructions, operations and orderings) interact and how. Are there cases where the application of one operation facilitates or blocks the application of another (transparent interaction)? On the other hand, do we sometimes expect interactions of primitives but do not find them (opaque interaction)?

Transparent and opaque rule interactions have been well-known in phonology where they have been labelled ‘Feeding’, ‘Bleeding’, ‘Counter-Feeding’ and ‘Counter-Bleeding’ (Kiparsky 1973). These terms can be transferred to the interactions of theoretical primitives in syntax. The concepts have often been implicitly assumed in many syntactic analyses but have rarely been stated explicitly (exceptions being e.g. Rezac 2004, Pullum 1979). The phenomenon of ‘wanna-contraction’ in ECM-infinitives, for example, where the embedded subject is moved to the matrix clause, can be described as Counter-Feeding. An example is given in (1).

(1) *Who do you wanna meet Mary?’

Assume that there is a rule A that says that a wh-phrase must be moved to the beginning of a clause and a rule B that says that adjacent ‘want’ and ‘to’ can be optionally pronounced as ‘wanna’. At first, the wh-phrase ‘who’ stands in between ‘want’ and ‘to’, as shown in (2).

(2) ... you ... want who to ... meet Mary

The contraction of ‘want’ and ‘to’ is blocked by the intervening ‘who’ in its base position. Moving ‘who’ (application of rule A) to the beginning of the matrix clause could feed contraction (rule B) but does not (Bresnan 1978, Arregi & Nevins 2012). Hence, the ban on wanna-contraction can be described as a case of Counter-Feeding. In a derivational framework, the ban on wanna-contraction can be analysed by rule ordering: rule B applies before rule A. (At the point where wanna-contraction could apply, ‘who’ stands in between ‘want’ and ‘to’. Hence, contraction cannot apply. Movement of ‘who’ comes too late to feed contraction.) In a representational framework, the ban on contraction can be analysed by letting ‘who’ leave a trace in its base position. The trace then intervenes between ‘want’ and ‘to’ and contraction cannot apply.

Similar examples for opaque and transparent interactions can be construed for anti-agreement in Berber (wh-movement bleeds subject-verb agreement; Ouhalla 1993) or intervention effects with experiencers in Icelandic and Romance (wh-movement of the experiencer feeds subject-verb agreement; Anagnostopoulou 2003).

The workshop is intended for proponents of different frameworks who show how syntactic phenomena can be derived by invoking interactions of theoretical primitives. Some of the main questions will be: Are the interaction patterns/orderings extrinsic or intrinsic, universal or language specific, context sensitive or context free? What are the differences and similarities of the various frameworks?

Invited Speakers:

Klaus Abels (UCL)
Edwin Williams (Princeton University)
Ellen Woolford (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Workshop Organizers:

Anke Assmann, Doreen Georgi, Timo Klein, Philipp Weisser (University of Leipzig)
Linguistic Subfield: Linguistic Theories; Syntax
LL Issue: 23.3679

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