There are also a LAVA-specific events page and a LAVA calendar.

Regular events, fall 2018

Every Monday 12.00-12.15: CASTL Coffee at the Espresso Bar in Teorifagbygget

Every Tuesday, 12.15-14.00: CASTLFish seminar, led by Gillian Ramchand, in C1003.

Every Thursday, 14.15-16.00: Advanced syntax PhD seminar (LIN-8004), led by Peter Svenonius.

Every Thursday, 12.00-13.00: LAVA Lunch, check the LAVA Lunch page for details and updates.

Some Fridays 14.15-16.00 CASTL Colloquium, as announced, often in E0105, organized by Craig Sailor. See below under one-off events for specifics as they emerge.

One-off events

October 22-24 LingPhil minicourse on Analyzing Linguistic Typologies with OTWorkplace and Property Theory, featuring Alan Prince, Birgit Alber, and Nazarré Merchant; organized by Martin Krämer

October 23-25 LingPhil minicourse on The Syntax-Pragmatics Interface: Bridging Theory and Experiment, featuring Andreas Trotzke and Petra Schumacher; organized by Tanja Kupisch and Jason Rothman.

October 26th: Workshop featuring talks by Prince, Alber, Trotzke, and Schumacher from the two minicourses. The workshop will have a session before lunch from 10 until 12 and then a session after lunch from one until three. Both sessions will take place in UB 244.

November 21-22:  Conference on Baltic Linguistics: New Perspectives and Methods (BLing), organized by Olga Urek

conference blurb

CASTL (Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics) at UiT The Arctic University of Norway is pleased to announce the conference Baltic Linguistics: New Perspectives and Methods to be held in Tromsø on November 21-22, 2018. The main goal of the conference is to bring together researchers from around the world working on the Baltic languages within various theoretical frameworks and methodological perspectives. We welcome submissions in the following areas:

  •  Syntax
  • Phonology
  •  Morphology
  • L1/L2/Ln Acquisition
  • Historical linguistics
  • Experimental linguistics
  • Development of language resources

Keynote speakers:

Ineta Dabašinskienė (Vytautas Magnus University)
Juris Grigorjevs (Latvian Language Institute, University of Latvia)
Axel Holvoet (Vytautas Magnus University)

 The deadline for abstract submissions is September 10th. We are now inviting abstracts for oral presentations (20-minute talk followed by a 10-minute discussion). Abstracts may not exceed one page in length (A4, Times New Roman, pt 12). A second page may be used for references, visualisations and examples. Anonymized abstracts in pdf format must be submitted as an attachment to . Names and affiliations of the authors should be indicated in the text of the e-mail.

Authors will be notified of the peer-review outcome by September 30th.

A limited number of travel grants is available for PhD and Master students, and will be distributed among the abstracts of the highest quality. If you would like to be considered for a travel grant, please indicate it in your submission.

Previous events

October 12, 14.15: Colloquium talk by  Aditi Lahiri, ‘Journey of Words.’ NB: Room B1003.

October 5: Colloquium talk by Coppe van Urk (QMUL); from 14:15 in E0105


VP-fronting in Imere and the stranding problem

Coppe van Urk (QMUL)

It has been argued for a number of languages that basic word order is derived through an operation of VP-fronting (e.g. Kayne 1994; Massam 2001). However, many such analyses face an overgeneration problem: not all VP-internal material can appear in the fronted VP and must apparently always be stranded (Chung 2005; Massam 2010). This paper first provides novel evidence for VP-fronting in an SVO language, the understudied Polynesian outlier Imere (Vanuatu), also known as Mele-Fila. This VP-fronting analysis is motivated by the placement of postverbal adverbial particles, which appear between the verb and its objects but take scope right-to-left. VP-fronting of a phrase containing the verb and all particles provides a constituent within which these particles can be right-attached, accounting for inverse order. But this analysis too suffers from the stranding problem: VP-fronting cannot drag along any DPs, PPs, and CPs. At the same time, Imere otherwise has a familiar SVO VP, with no evidence of vacating movements or an unorthodox base-generated structure. Instead, I propose that VP-fronting is accompanied by an operation of distributed deletion (Fanselow and Cavar 2000), giving rise to the appearance of stranding. I suggest that distributed deletion is driven by a constraint that favors realizing only the verb, since it contributes the feature driving movement  (e.g. Massam and Smallwood 1997; Coon 2010). Evidence for this approach comes from the observation that adverbial particles have a discontinuous scopal domain, exactly as predicted by distributed deletion: particles scope over other particles to the left, but over all objects to the right. To answer the question of why some material can appear in the fronted VP alongside the verb, I examine the stranding problem in seven other VP-fronting languages, from four different language families. In all of these languages, dependents that front with the verb are always either a structurally reduced noun or an adverbial particle. Building on Clemens (2014), I argue for a constraint that requires elements that are in a selectional relationship and are spelled out in the same phase to form a prosodic phrase.

September 28: Workshop on Second Language Acquisition: Linguistic and Pedagogical Practices, featuring Roumyana Slabakova, Kira Gor, Heather Marsden, and Tomas Shaw Rankin; organized by Yulia Rodina and others.

Monday, September 10, Colloquium talk by Byron Ahn, Princeton: Mapping OUT- argument structure, 14.15 in E0105


In this talk, I explore the productive ‘out-PRED’ phenomenon in English (e.g. out-sing, out-do, out-run, out-smart), in which a prefix ‘out-‘ can affix to (a sub-class of) predicates (‘PRED’s), interacting with PRED’s argument structure in a surprising way.  I draw the following novel generalizations about this phenomenon:

(1) out-PRED inherits all of PRED’s morphophonological irregularities
(2) none of PRED’s internal arguments can surface in out-PRED
(3) if the interpretation of PRED depends on its internal argument, out-PRED is impossible
(4) out-PRED can always be passivized, even when PRED cannot be

Together, these indicate that out– prefixation creates an argument structure that is syntactically distinct from that of PRED. I pursue an analysis in which out– merges with PRED before any of its internal argument(s) can merge, and the newly formed out-PRED projects its own argument structure with its own Voice-related properties such as passivizability. A core component of this analysis is that internal arguments of PRED-type predicates must be severed from the lexical predicate (i.e., introduced in a syntactic position outside of √P/VP). This adds to a growing literature that converges on the result that syntax transparently encodes Neo-Davidsonian semantic argument structure; i.e., all arguments in a predicate are introduced by individual semantic functions, which each in turn map onto individual functional projections in the syntax.

August 24, 14.15: Colloquium talk by Shigenori Wakabayashi, Chuo University, in room E0105.

Second language acquisition and use of grammatical rules: What underlies certain morphosyntactic asymmetries.

In this talk, we will see data from second language research concerning asymmetries between free and bound morphemes, between infinitive forms to V and gerund forms V-ing, and between small causes and tensed clauses; and also the effect of a lack of L1 transfer in certain properties of psych verbs. Based on the Minimalist Program (Chomsky, 1995) and on Distributed Morphology (Halle and Marantz, 1993), I will explain how interlanguage grammars are structured and used: First and second languages are both based on innate linguistic knowledge, but an L2-specific ‘economy principle’ is likely to operate in second language grammar.


August 23, 12.00: LAVA Lunch talk by Shigenori Wakabayashi, Chuo University

Multiple causes for missing -s and a single cause for overused be and do in L2 English

Many studies have tried to specify the right answer to a persistent epistemological inquiry for L2 learner behavior: Why do very advanced L2 learners have difficulty in using inflectional morphemes, typically substituting bare forms for inflected forms? Based on data from a series of studies by Wakabayashi and colleagues concerning 3rd person singular -s, it will be shown that the causes lie at multiple steps, namely, in feature selection in the Lexicon, derivation in Syntax, and mapping syntactic structure onto morphological forms in Morphology. In addition, data of overused be with unaccusative verbs (Oshita, 2000) and do in subject wh-questions (Fujii, 2017) will also be shown and discussed. Based on the description and explanation for these phenomena, it will be argued that L2 researchers should always refer to a general model of morpho-syntactic knowledge and its use when seeking to explain and describe L2 learners’ behavior.

Events in Spring 2018

Events in 2017

Events in 2016