LINGUIST List 4.405

Thu 27 May 1993

Qs: Typological methodology, Software, Slavic/Albanian, Yoruba

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , typological research methodology
  2. Daming Xu, Software
  3. Wayles Browne, Slavic element in Albanian
  4. Laszlo Kalman, Query: Yoruba data u

Message 1: typological research methodology

Date: Mon, 24 May 1993 21:08:55 typological research methodology
From: <>
Subject: typological research methodology

What constitutes evidence for or against a hypothetical linguistic
typological universal?

I ask because a certain amount of research in the past few years, most
notably Chomsky 1991, 1992 has been based on a paper whose fundamental
claim, unless i am much mistaken, is grievously flawed. Pollock 1989
argues that the dichotomy, which few would challenge, between V-raising in
French and AGR-lowering in English is related to the relative richness or
poverty of subject-agreement marking in the two languages. This in spite
of the fact that *phonetically*, subject-agreement marking in French is not
much richer than in English. Furthermore, if richness of
morphophonological subject-agreement marking is supposed to be the critical
issue in this hypothesis, which in absence of any clear disclaimers appears
to be the case, Pollock's hypothesis seems to either make many wrong
predictions or, at the very least, to go directly counter to some
independent comparative research that had not, at least as of the time
Pollock's paper was published, as far as i know been seriously contested.
To wit:

(1) Pollock himself admits that Holmberg's 1986 analysis of Scandinavian
syntax seems to constitute a counterexample to his hypothesis, but doesn't
pursue it very far. Holmberg's analysis has been challenged by Sigurdsson
1991, but it strikes me as disturbing that Pollock allows it to go by
without challenging it himself.

(2) Koopman 1983 argues that V rises to AGR in the Kru languages just as it
does in French although these languages have no subject-agreement marking
at all. To the best of my knowledge, Pollock doesn't address this.

(3) Hyams 1986 argues that in Italian the verb typically remains within the
VP throughout the derivation, in spite of Italian's manifestly rich
subject-agreement marking. To the best of my knowledge, Pollock doesn't
address Hyams' arguments either. I have recently been told that someone
(Belletti? Rizzi?) has challenged Hyams' analysis, proposing that the
entire verbal complex in Italian rises to AGR. Does anybody have any
references on this?

(4) Boskovic 1991 has argued that in Serbo-Croatian, a language with very
rich subject-agreement marking, AGR routinely descends to V, which latter
often remains within the VP throughout the derivation. In fact, Boskovic
presents arguments that AGR-lowering is typical of pro-drop languages
(=languages allowing phonologically empty subjects), a claim that on the
face of it would be directly contrary to Pollock's. I don't expect Pollock
to have addressed Boskovic' arguments, or course, and i've been informed
that Margarita Suner has evidence that Spanish routinely raises verbs to
AGR, which would seem to falsify Boskovic' hypothesis.

(5) I have argued (Schaufele 1991) that in Vedic Sanskrit, a language with
very rich subject-agreement marking, the verb normally remained within the
VP throughout the derivation, and that therefore AGR must have descended to
it. Portions of my rationale have been challenged and the jury is still
out on the issue.

(6) I have also argued (Schaufele 1993) that English retained the ability
to raise theta-rich verbs to AGR for about 2-3 centuries after it lost
almost all its subject-agreement marking. If Pollock is correct, this
would mean that several generations of Englishpeople were routinely
violating the ECP.

I'm sure it's possible to provide alternative theoretical accounts for any
one of these apparent counterexamples that would salvage Pollock's
hypothesis -- note my acknowledgments of the existence of some proposed
such alternative analyses. My question is, if that is the case, what would
constitute a *real* counterexample to Pollock's hypothesis? How is it

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Boskovic, Zeljko. 1991. 'On the Null-Subject Parameter' paper read at the
44th Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, 26 April 1991.

Chomsky, Noam. 1991. 'Some Notes on Economy of Derivation and
Representation' in Robert Freidin, ed. Principles and Parameters in
Comparative Grammar, pp. 417-454. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 1992. A Minimalist Program for Linguistic Theory. MIT
Occasional Papers in Linguistics 1. Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in

Holmberg, Anders. 1986. Word Order and Syntactic Features in the
Scandinavian Languages and English. Ph. D. dissertation, University of

Hyams, Nina M. 1986. Language Acquisition and the Theory of Parameters.
Dordrecht: Reidel.

Koopman, Hilda. 1983. The Syntax of Verbs: from Verb Movement Rules in
the Kru Languages to Universal Grammar. Studies in Generative Grammar 15.
Dordrecht: Foris.

Pollock, Jean-Yves. 1989. 'Verb-Movement, Universal Grammar, and the
Structure of IP' Linguistic Inquiry 20:365-424.

Schaufele, Steven. 1991. 'Richness of Subject-Agreement Marking and V-AGR
Merger: the Verdict of Vedic' paper read at the 20th Annual Conference on
South Asia, Madison, WI, 1 Nov. 1991. To appear in the Proceedings.

Schaufele, Steven. 1993. 'The History of VP-Adverbials, V-AGR Merger, and
Loss of Subject-Agreement Marking in English: a Case Study in Corpus-Based
Diachronic Syntactic Research' paper presented before the Washington
Linguistic Society, Georgetown University, 15 April 1993.

Sigurdsson, Halldor Armann. 1991. 'Icelandic Case-Marked PRO and the
Licensing of Lexical Arguments.' Natural Language and Linguistic Theory
Dr. Steven Schaufele c/o Department of Linguistics
712 West Washington Ave. University of Illinois
Urbana, IL 61801 4088 Foreign Languages Building
 707 South Mathews Street
217-344-8240 Urbana, IL 61801
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Message 2: Software

Date: Wed, 26 May 93 17:28:04 EDSoftware
From: Daming Xu <DAMINGXUUOTTAWA.bitnet>
Subject: Software

Query: Chinese teaching/learning materials

I am looking for video-supported teaching materials for Chinese (Mandarin)
and COMPUTER SOFTWARES for LEARNING Chinese. I would appreciate any
information on where these are available and how to order them. Please
reply to me directly. Thanks in advance.

Daming Xu
Phone: 613-596-2594
Fax: 613-230-2047
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Message 3: Slavic element in Albanian

Date: Tue, 25 May 93 18:11:06 EDSlavic element in Albanian
From: Wayles Browne <JN5JCORNELLA.bitnet>
Subject: Slavic element in Albanian

I recently saw a reference to a new book--I believe from Scandinavia--
about Slavic elements in Albanian. Can anyone give me the exact title,
author, and publishing details?
Thank you--Wayles Browne, jn5jcornell.bitnet //
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Message 4: Query: Yoruba data u

Date: Thu, 27 May 1993 12:58:59 Query: Yoruba data u
From: Laszlo Kalman <>
Subject: Query: Yoruba data u

Could anyone tell me what exactly the difference is between the
following Yoruba sentences?

(1) Mo ra` i`we'.
(2) Mo ra` i`we' ni.

I would be interested in the sorts of contexts in which (1) and (2)
above can be uttered felicitously.

Thank you -- Laszlo Kalman
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