AcqVA Colloquium (NTNU) – Spring 2020

Here is a list of talks for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. The talks will take place at the Dragvoll campus in Trondheim.

February 13, room D151, 14:15
Associate Professor Ruth Kramer, Georgetown University

Taking a Critical Look at Phonological Gender Assignment

Classic typological research has identified several different ways to assign grammatical gender. For example, gender can be assigned semantically (e.g., depending on animacy), morphologically (e.g., depending on the presence of a specific suffix), or phonologically (e.g., depending on the final segment of the noun).  In this talk, I take a critical look at the last member of this list: phonological gender assignment. Phonological gender assignment is predicted to be impossible in a theory that assumes the syntax does not access or contain phonological information, e.g., Distributed Morphology.  Therefore, if phonological gender assignment is attested, it constitutes serious evidence against this kind of theory.  I present two case studies of languages that have been claimed to have phonological gender assignment: Hausa (Chadic) and Guébie (Kru).  For both languages, I argue that phonological gender assignment is not necessary to describe the gender system and, more importantly, that a phonological gender assignment analysis is less explanatory than alternative approaches (it misses generalizations, makes typologically-unexpected predictions, and cannot extend to related phenomena). Overall, then, the initial results from Hausa and Guébie suggest that phonological gender assignment does not exist, which is significant support for Distributed Morphology. I close the talk with plans for future work to investigate additional languages with (alleged) phonological gender assignment.


October 24, room D154, 14:15
Professor Antonella Sorace, University of Edinburgh

Time to give up the ‘native monolingual standard’ in research on bilingualism?
The effects of bilingualism (both ‘advantages or ‘disadvantages’) are always defined with respect to native monolingual standards.  However,  real monolingualism is becoming rarer in our communities: more people learn other languages or are simply exposed to multilingualism in society. In addition, research has shown that the first language changes in selective and predictable ways upon exposure to a second language, which provides strong arguments against the implicitly held view that bilinguals are (or should behave like) two monolinguals in one. Understanding the new emerging picture requires an interdisciplinary effort that combines the strengths of both linguistic and cognitive models and redefines the standards of comparison in bilingualism research.

September 10, room 3432, 14:15
Associate Professor Michael T. Putnam, Pennsylvania State University

Explaining microvariation through exponency: Middles and passives in Mainland Scandinavian
Exo-skeletal approaches to morphosyntax over the past two decades have provided a concise and systematic way to explain cross-linguistic parametric variation. This presentation builds on this tradition by taking a look at (micro)variation across two closely related languages (e.g., Norwegian and Swedish) in a specific domain of grammar; namely, in middles and passives. Following Fábregas & Putnam (2020), in this exo-skeletal approach we introduce exponents as the fundamental units of computation that serve as an intermediary between operations in the narrow syntax and their linkage with vocabulary items at the PF-interface. Through our analysis of middles and passives in Mainland Scandinavian, we highlight some of the unique facets of our exo-skeletal approach (such as the lack of reliance on different ‘flavors’ of Voice-heads) and point to areas of future research.


Previous semester:
Spring 2019

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