NYU linguistics

NYU MorphBeer

The website for MorphBeer can be found at wp.nyu.edu/morphbeer. This page is kept for archival purposes.


Spring 2015
May 8∅ (FASL morphology workshop)
May 1∅ (Mayfest)
Apr 24Vera's recent work [talk]
Apr 17 Heather Newell (2009). Aspects of the morphology and phonology of phases, chapter 4. [link]
Apr 10 Yohei's recent work. [background]
Apr 3Benjamin K. Bergen (2004). The Psychological Reality of Phonaesthemes. [pdf]
Kathy Rastle, Matt H. Davis, William D. Marslen-Wilson and Lorraine K. Tyler (2000). Morphological and semantic effects in visual word recognition: A time-course study, Experiment 2. [link]
Nahyun Kwon and Erich R. Round (2015). Phonaesthemes in morphological theory. [link]
Mar 27Itamar's recent work [talk]
Mar 20∅ (Spring break)
Mar 13 Jessica Coon (2014). Little-v Agreement and Templatic Morphology in Chol. [link]
Feb 27 Timothy J. O'Donnell. [abstract +/-]
Productivity and Reuse in Language

A much-celebrated aspect of language is the way in which it allows us to express and comprehend an unbounded number of thoughts. This property is made possible because language consists of several combinatorial systems which can productively build novel forms using a large inventory of stored, reusable parts: the lexicon.

For any given language, however, there are many potentially storable units of structure than are actually used in practice --- each giving rise to many ways of forming novel expressions. For example, English contains suffixes which are highly productive and generalizable (e.g., -ness; Lady-Gagaesqueness, pine-scentedness) and suffixes which can only be reused in specific words, and cannot be generalized (e.g., -th; truth, width, warmth). How are such differences in generalizability and reusability represented? What are the basic, stored building blocks at each level of linguistic structure? When is productive computation licensed and when is it not? How can the child acquire these systems of knowledge?

I will discuss several mathematical models of productivity (computation) and reuse (storage), at different levels of linguistic structure. These models all treat the the problem as a tradeoff between the storage of frequently reused (sub)structures and the need to productively generalize to novel expressions. This computation/storage tradeoff is a special case of a general and well-known principle which balances the simplicity/generality of hypotheses and the degree to which they explain the primary linguistic data and is used in a variety of learning frameworks such as Bayes, Minimum Description Length, and others.

Feb 20Heidi Harley (2014). On the identity of roots. [link]
Artemis Alexiadou (2014). Roots don't take complements. [link]
Heidi Harley (2014). Reply to commentaries, "On the identity of roots". [link]
Feb 13 Adam Ussishkin (2005). A Fixed Prosodic Theory of Nonconcatenative Templatic Morphology. [link]
Feb 6 Beth Levin (2015). Semantics and Pragmatics of Argument Alternations. [link]
Jan 30∅ (Lotte Hendriks Brown Bag)
Fall 2014
Dec 12 Heidi Klockmann. [abstract +/-]
Inherent case as a PP-case
Heidi Klockmann (Utrecht University, UiL-OTS)

In this talk, I consider case alternations in Polish, which suggest an analysis in which inherent case is analyzed as the realization of a PP (Rezac 2008; McFadden 2014), as well as the implications of such an analysis for systems of case and agreement in other languages.

Case alternations are found in a number of Slavic and Uralic languages, attracting the most attention with regards to numerals. In Polish, numerals 5+ (5-10, 100) trigger genitive case assignment in structural case positions, but appear to show case agreement in inherent case positions, as in (1). Negation shows similar properties, triggering genitive case on structural accusative objects, but not on inherently cased objects, as in (2).

(1) a. Pięć ptaków spało. Nom Environment
Five birds.GEN slept.N.SG
‘(The) five birds slept.’
b. ...z pięcioma ptakami Inst Environment
withINST five.INST birds.INST
‘...with five birds.’
(2) a. Łukasz nie widział dziewczyny. Acc Environment
Łukasz.NOM not saw.3.M.SG girl.GEN
‘Lukas did not see a girl.’
b. Łukasz nie ufa dziewczynie. Dat Environment
Łukasz not trust.3.SG girl.DAT
‘Lukas does not trust the girl.’
In this talk, I analyze inherent case as the realization of a PP, which is opaque to external case assignment processes. I argue that Polish numerals are semi-lexical, based on various morphological and syntactic properties, and show how this in combination with a treatment of inherent case as a PP-case can capture the patterns in (1) and (2). I further consider the implications of this treatment of inherent case for systems of case and agreement in other languages, operating under the assumption that if PPs are opaque to case assignment processes, then they should also be opaque to other processes, such as agreement. I explore how this analysis might account for certain differences in patterns of agreement across languages.

Dec 5SocioMorphBeer!
Miriam Meyerhoff and James A. Walker (2013). An existential problem: The sociolinguistic monitor and variation in existential constructions on Bequia (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) [link]
Nov 21 Katya Pertsova (2011). Grounding Systematic Syncretism in Learning
. [link]
Nov 14Jean Lowenstamm (2010). Derivational affixes as roots (phrasal spellout meets English stress shift). [link]
Ava Creemers, Jan Don and Paula Fenger (2014). Stress and categorial flexibility of affixes as a consequence of morphological structure. [abstract]
Nov 7 Nikolaus Himmelmann (to appear). Asymmetries in the prosodic phrasing of function words: Another look at the suffixing preference
. [link]
Oct 31∅ (NELS)
Oct 24 Norvin Richards (2014). Contiguity Theory, chapter 2. [link]
Oct 17 Alec Marantz (to appear). Morphology.
Oct 10 Vera Gribanova and Boris Harizanov (to appear). Locality and Directionality in Inward-Sensitive Allomorphy: Russian and Bulgarian. [link]
Oct 3∅ (David Pesetsky)
Sep 26 Laurie Bauer (2014). Grammaticality, acceptability, possible words and large corpora. [link]
Sep 19 Boris Harizanov (2014). Clitic doubling at the syntax-morphophonology interface: A-movement and morphological merger in Bulgarian. [link]
Sep 12 Itamar and Vera. [background] [abstract +/-]
The Syntax of Paradigm Gaps

Based on two case studies in Hebrew and Latin, we argue that paradigms are not morphosyntactic primitives. Contrary to Lexicalist approaches to inflectional paradigms, we show that systematic paradigm gaps in these languages have their source in other parts of the grammar. For Hebrew, we demonstrate that the lack of synthetic non-finite passive forms is not a result of competition with their periphrastic counterparts. For Latin, we revisit previous analyses of the passive (Embick 2000; Kiparsky 2005) and show that a locality-sensitive, item-and-arrangement approach (Halle and Marantz 1993) is superior both empirically and conceptually to a theory that generates forms in a putative lexicon and has them compete against each other. Paradigm gaps are thus shown to be the result of syntactic structure building.

Sep 5 Jason Haugen and Daniel Siddiqi (2013). Roots and the Derivation. [link]
Spring 2014
May 9SocioMorphBeer!
Jenny Cheshire (2013). Grammaticalisation in social context: The emergence of a new English pronoun. [link]
May 2∅ (Marcel den Dikken)
Apr 25Stefan Keine (2013). Syntagmatic constraints on insertion. [link]
Apr 18∅ (Quotatives workshop)
Apr 11Jennifer L. Smith. A phonological category squish: Lexical categories and continua at the interface. [abstract +/-]
A phonological category squish: Lexical categories and continua at the interface
Jennifer L. Smith, UNC Chapel Hill

Some phonological processes are sensitive to what looks like lexical-category information. This empirical observation raises a number of fundamental questions for linguistic theory.

(1) Are there irreducible category-sensitive effects in phonology? I review evidence from phonological patternsand processes that must directly distinguish among lexical categories (Bobaljik 2008; Smith 2011) in order to argue that category-sensitive effects cannot all be attributed to mediating factors such as bound vs. free morphemes or paradigm uniformity effects, even though some cases can be reanalyzed in this way (e.g., Kenstowicz 1996; Cable 2005).

(2) If there are category-sensitive effects in phonology, where does phonology get its "category" information from? I compare two formal models of category-sensitive phonological effects. Under the Positional approach, certain lexical categories are designated as strong positions in the Positional Faithfulness sense (Steriade 1995, Beckman 1999). Under the Indexation approach, lexical categories are modeled as inductively determined classes of lexically indexed morphemes (Pater 2000, 2009). Implications of each approach forthe architecture of the grammar are considered, with attention to the nature of "lexical categories" under non-lexicalist approaches to morphosyntax such as Distributed Morphology (see especially Marantz 1997, Embick 2012) or the Exo-Skeletal Model (Borer 2005ab).

(3) Which lexical categories are relevant for phonology, what are the relationships among them, and what does this tell us about the architecture of the grammar? The typological study in Smith (2011) shows that category-specific effects have a strong tendency to follow a hierarchy of phonological privilege N > A > V, where "privilege" means the ability to resist neutralization (Steriade 1995, Beckman 1999) or to be augmented with phonologically salient properties (Smith 2005). But N > A > V is not the whole story; Jaber (2011) shows that proper nouns in Jordanian Arabic can have even greater phonological privilege than common nouns, while Smith (2014) finds a gradient effect of greater phonological privilege for unaccusative verbs than for unergatives in Tokyo Japanese. These results, along with other cases reported in the literature, suggest that the hierarchy of phonological privilege involves a continuum from prototypical referents (proper nouns) to prototypical predicates (unergative/transitive verbs). This continuum parallels certain lexical-category hierarchies or "squishes" that have been proposed in the domain of morphosyntax (e.g., Ross 1972), and is compatible with the claim that lexical categories are in a sense epiphenomena, "bundles of features" that can be resolved into coarsely or finely grained categories as needed (Embick 2012).

In addressing these three questions, I discuss the implications of another typological fact about category-sensitive phonological processes — that they are overwhelmingly prosodic in nature (stress, tone, wordshape) — as well as recent experimental evidence (Smith, Moreton, Pertsova, & Broad in prep.) that English speakers show emergent effects (effects not learned on the basis of ambient data from English) of noun-specific stress faithfulness in their interpretation of novel blends. Ultimately, I conclude that aspects of both the Positional and Indexation approaches are at work behind category-specific phonology.

Apr 4Andrés Saab and Anikó Lipták (to appear). Movement and deletion after syntax: Licensing by inflection reconsidered. [link]
Mar 28Dave Embick (2007). Blocking Effects and Analytic/synthetic Alternations. [link]
Mar 14Marijke De Belder (to appear). The root and nothing but the root: primary compounds in Dutch. [link]
Mar 6Emily Atkinson (2013). Gender features on n & the root: An account of gender in French. [link]
Feb 21Marijke De Belder and Jeroen Van Craenenbroeck (2013). On Vocabulary Insertion. [link]
Feb 14Robert Henderson (2012). Morphological alternations at the intonational phrase edge. [link]
Feb 7Tanya Reinhart and Tali Siloni (2005). The Lexicon-Syntax Parameter: Reflexivization and Other Arity Operations. [link]
Jan 31Neil [talk]
Fall 2013
Dec 13Neil [practice talk]
Dec 6SocioMorphBeer!
Kobey Shwayder and Brittany McLaughlin (2013). The morphophonology of African American Vernacular English copula contraction: The case of i's, tha's, and wha's. [slides] [handout]
Nov 22Mercedes Tubino Blanco, Heidi Harley and Jason Haugen (to appear). Affixal light verbs and complex predicates in Hiaki. [lingbuzz]
Nov 15Daniel Harbour (2003). The Kiowa Case for Feature Insertion. [link]
Nov 8Rolf Noyer (1998). Impoverishment Theory and Morphosyntactic Markedness. [pdf]
Nov 1Farrell Ackerman and Robert Malouf (2013). Morphological Organization: The Low Conditional Entropy Conjecture. [link]
Oct 25Maria and Tal [practice talk]
Oct 18Adam Albright (2011). Paradigms.
Oct 11Susana Béjar and Milan Rezac (2009). Cyclic Agree [link]
Oct 4David Embick (to appear). On the distribution of stem alternants: Separation and its limits [pdf]
Sep 27Ruth Kramer (to appear). Clitic Doubling or Object Agreement: The View from Amharic. [lingbuzz]
Sep 20∅ (Lila Gleitman at the CUNY Graduate Center)
Sep 13Feng-fan Hsieh (2007). Winners Take All: "Missing Paradigms" in Jinghpo. [pdf]
Sep 6Uli Sauerland and Jonathan Bobaljik (2013). Syncretism Distribution Modeling: Accidental Homophony as a Random Event. [lingbuzz]
Spring 2013
May 10Isabel Oltra-Massuet (to appear). Variability and allomorphy in the morphosyntax of Catalan past perfective.
May 3SocioMorphBeer!
Laurel MacKenzie (2013). Variation in English auxiliary realization: A new take on contraction. [link]
Apr 26John Beavers and Cala Zubair (2013). Anticausatives in Sinhala: involitivity and causer suppression. [link]
Apr 19Tatjana Marvin (to appear). Is word structure relevant for stress assignment?
Apr 12Vera [practice talk]
Apr 5Jochen Trommer (2013). Stress Uniformity in Albanian: Morphological Arguments for Cyclicity. [link]
Mar 29Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero (to appear). The Spanish lexicon stores stems with theme vowels, not roots with inflectional class features.
Mar 14Jonathan Bobaljik and Susi Wurmbrand (to appear). Suspension Across Domains.
Mar 8Daniel Harbour (2007). Against PersonP. [link]
Mar 1James Blevins (2008). Declension Classes in Estonian. [pdf]
Blevins (2005). Word-based declensions in Estonian. [pdf]
Feb 22Pavel Caha (2012). gen.sg = nom.pl: a mystery solved?. [lingbuzz]
Caha (2010). The parameters of case marking and spell out driven movement, section 2. [lingbuzz]
Feb 15Kevin Ryan (2010). Variable affix order: Grammar and learning. [link]
Feb 8Waltraud Paul and John Whitman (2010). Applicative structure and Mandarin ditransitives. [lingbuzz]
Feb 1Mark Aronoff, Irit Meir and Wendy Sandler (2005). The Paradox of Sign Language Morphology. [link]
Fall 2012
Dec 14SocioMorphBeer!
Erez Levon (2012). Gender, prescriptivism, and language change: Morphological variation in Hebrew animate reference. [link]
Dec 7∅ (Kyle Johnson)
Nov 30Melanie Bell and Ingo Plag (2012). Informativeness is a determinant of compound stress in English. [link]
Nov 23∅ (Thanksgiving)
Nov 16Alec's recent work [Pinker 1991] [Solomyak and Marantz 2010]
Nov 9Maria's recent work [background] [abstract +/-]
Phonotactic selectional restrictions in Russian diminutives
Maria Gouskova

Some affixes impose selectional restrictions on the phonological shape of the base: an affix can fail to attach to words that have certain phonological characteristics (e.g., in English, the verbalizing suffix -n attaches only to obstruent-final monosyllabic adjectives: stiff-en, black-en vs. *full-en, *calm-en, *aloof-en; Siegel 1974), or it might be realized as one of several allomorphs depending on the phonological context (e.g., the English indefinite determiner is "a" before consonant-initial words vs. "an" before vowel-initial ones; Paster 2004, Bye 2007, Wolf 2008). The exact formulation and role of selectional restrictions at the morphology-phonology interface has been controversial. How are selectional restrictions stated in the grammar? Are they enforced in parallel or derivationally, and if they are enforced derivationally, do they apply before affix realization or after? How exactly does blocking and allomorph selection work?

In this talk, I develop the idea that selectional restrictions are phonotactic generalizations about the morphemes in the lexicon that can combine with an affix (Becker and Gouskova 2012). Unlike approaches using Generalized Alignment, this phonotactic approach predicts that properties not local to the affix can affect the choice or realization of the affix. I will also argue that selectional restrictions can be enforced both on the bases of affixation and on the words that result from affixation--that is, selectional restrictions can apply both before and after affixation has taken place. This approach will be tested on the case study of Russian diminutive suffixes, which impose a range of phonotactic constraints on the stress, syllable structure, and segmental makeup of the bases (Polivanova 1967, Kapatsinski 2011). The claims will be supported with evidence from an elicitation study.

Oct 26Daniel Harbour (2011). Valence and Atomic Number. [link]
Oct 19∅ (NELS)
Oct 12John Beavers and Andrew Koontz-Garboden (2012). Manner and Result in the Roots of Verbal Meaning. [link]
Oct 5Elizabeth Coppock and Stephen Wechsler (2012). The objective conjugation in Hungarian: agreement without phi-features. [link]
Sep 28Mark Aronoff (1994). Morphology by Itself: Stems and Inflectional Classes, chapters 2 and 5.
Sep 21∅ (Rajesh Bhatt)
Sep 14Isabel Oltra Massuet (1999). On the notion of theme vowel: a new approach to Catalan verbal morphology. [link]
Sep 7Noam Faust (to appear). Non-concatenative realization in the verbal inflection of Modern Hebrew. [link]
Spring 2012
May 4SocioMorphBeer!
Greg Guy (1991). Explanation in variable phonology: An exponential model of morphological constraints. [link]
Contextual conditioning in variable lexical phonology. [link]
Apr 27Graham Horwood (2001). Anti-Faithfulness and Subtractive Morphology. [pdf]
Apr 20Jessica Coon (2012). TAM Split Ergativity. [lingbuzz]
Apr 13∅ (QP Conference)
Apr 6Artemis Alexiadou and Edit Doron (2012). The syntactic construction of two non-active Voices: Passive and middle. [link]
Mar 30Yuni Kim (2010). Phonological and morphological conditions on affix order in Huave. [link]
Mar 23Michael Brody and Anna Szabolcsi (2003). Overt Scope in Hungarian. [link]
Mar 16∅ (Spring break woooo)
Mar 7∅ (Open house)
Mar 2David Adger, Daniel Harbour and Laurel Watkins (2009). Mirrors and Microparameters: Phrase Structure Beyond Free Word Order chapters 3 and 4. [bobst online text]
Feb 24K.C. [practice talk]
Feb 17Peter Svenonius and Patrik Bye (2011). Non-concatenative morphology as epiphenomenon. [pdf]
Feb 10Michael Spagnol (2011). A Tale of Two Morphologies: Verb structure and argument alternations in Maltese. [link]
Feb 3Gaurav Mathur and Christian Rathmann (2011). Two Types of Nonconcatenative Morphology in Signed Languages. [bobst online text]
Fall 2011
Dec 9Mark Baker (2011). On the syntax of surface-adjacency: The case of pseudo noun incorporation. [pdf]
Dec 2Matthew Wolf (2011). Cyclicity and non-cyclicity in Maltese: Local ordering of phonology and morphology in OT-CC. [lingbuzz]
Paul Kiparsky (2011). Chains or Strata? The Case of Maltese. [lingbuzz]
Nov 25∅ (Thanksgiving)
Nov 18∅ (Norvin Richards)
Nov 11Andrew Nevins (2011). Prospects and challenges for a clitic analysis of (A)SL agreement. [link]
Nov 4∅ (Asaf Bachrach)
Oct 28∅ (Anders Holmberg)
Oct 21Petr Biskup (2007). P(refixe)s and P(reposition)s. [pdf]
Oct 14Matushansky contd.
Oct 7Ora Matushansky (2006). Head Movement in Linguistic Theory. [link]
Sep 30Artemis Alexiadou and Terje Lohndal (2011). The Syntax and Semantics of Roots. [draft]