LINGUIST List 30.3591

Mon Sep 23 2019

All: Tribute to Carme Picallo

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 16-Sep-2019
From: Anna Bartra-Kaufamann <>
Subject: Tribute to Carme Picallo
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Tribute to Carme Picallo

The Departament de Filologia Catalana and the Centre de Lingüística Teòrica at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona mourn the passing of our dear friend and beloved colleague Carme Picallo, on June 6th, 2019.

Carme Picallo was born in Barcelona, Catalonia, on March 14th, 1950. She went to a methodologically advanced school, where she liked to remember that she learned to ask herself questions about seemingly simple things, an attitude that she applied all her life to research in linguistics, with fruitful results. From that early time, she became aware of the great influence of teachers in helping students in their path into research. These two forces inspired both her linguistic research and her teaching.

In 1981 she obtained a MA in Philosophy from the Universitat de Barcelona. A few years before that, in 1976, she had moved to the US, where her interest in linguistics started. From 1981 to 1984 she was a visiting PhD student at MIT, thanks to a grant from the Generalitat de Catalunya, and in 1985 she obtained a PhD in Linguistics from the City University of New York, with a doctoral dissertation entitled Opaque Domains, under the supervision of Robert W. Fiengo. In this seminal work the radical cut between tensed and untensed sentences was put under scrutiny and she proposed a more finely grained analysis of tensed non-indicative sentences by decomposing INFL into two independent features, AGR and TNS, with TNS being the important boundary that determines the disjoint reference of the embedded subject in subjunctive clauses. At the time, the reference of null and overt pronouns —one of the less parametrized domains in grammar— and Binding Theory were two of her several main research interests.

From 1985 to 1987 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Spanish PhD Program at the City University of New York. She also was a lecturer at the Summer Linguistic Institute of the Linguistic Society of America in 1986. In 1987 and 1988 she was Assistant Professor at Rutgers University, and in 1989 she had a position as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland.

In December 1989 she came back to Europe with a project on the Noun Phrase, funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Cultura (1989-1992). She obtained another PhD degree in Catalan Philology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (1991), and she became a lecturer at the Departament de Filologia Catalana of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, where she immediately became an active and influential member of the group of the generativist linguists of the departments of Catalan and Spanish. In 2003 she went back to the City University of New York as a visiting scholar.

One of her main interests was reference, understood as a simultaneously philosophical, semantic and linguistic issue, and she investigated how the reference of NPs, DPs, empty and overt pronouns is restricted by universal formal principles. Her main topics of inquiry were the subjects of tensed, subjunctive and infinitival sentences, the pro-drop parameter, and the position and influence of adjectives on the meaning of NPs. Within DP, she also studied possessives, gender, and partitivity.
Her interests ranged beyond syntactic phenomena. Always keen to explore the interaction between the language capacity and other cognitive skills, she became interested in language pathologies, as well as linguistic variation. As Principal Investigator of an important project funded by the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, she organized a major conference on linguistic variation, in which renowned linguists debated on language variation from within two mainstream theories, cartography and minimalism. The resulting rich exchange was thereafter published by Oxford University Press as Linguistic Variation in the Minimalist Framework. For Carme Picallo, no linguistic problem was worth analyzing if it could not drive the researcher to the formal and conceptual properties of the human language.
She was Vice Rector of Research of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona from 1999 to 2002. She was also the representative of the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas to the Standing Committee for the Humanities of the European Science Foundation from 2004 to 2007 and a member of the Core Group in 2006 and 2007, as well as a member of the Panel SH4 of the European Research Council in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014.
The impact that she had on her many graduate and postgraduate students is manifested not only in their subsequent work, but also in the many messages of condolence we received as news of her passing has spread. She will also be sorely missed by friends as well as her fellow researchers and scholars. We often experienced or witnessed her generosity in sharing materials, ideas, and references. Her tireless quest for knowledge, and love of literature, philosophy and art, and her dogged pursuit of justice and honesty will be an inspiration to all those who had the honor and good fortune to share a bit of her life.
To honor her memory, the Centre de Lingüística Teòrica will hold a special commemorative session on October 4 at 3:30 pm. The keynote speakers will be Ignacio Bosque, a linguist who coauthored several papers with Carme Picallo, Maria Lluïsa Hernanz, a close colleague and friend in the Centre de Lingüística Teòrica, and Oriol Quintana, a doctoral candidate who began his research career under her supervision.

Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics

Page Updated: 23-Sep-2019