Bethany Lochbihler’s Ph.D. Oral Defense – Monday 11/12

Bethany Lochbihler
Department of Linguistics
McGill University
 
 
Monday, November 12th, 2012
McLennan Library Building Rm. M5-37A
3:15 pm
 
 
 
Aspects of Argument Licensing
 
Abstract
 
This thesis reexamines the distribution of arguments in different languages, proposing that Case itself is not universal, but a realization of an underlying principle of Argument Licensing. I claim that arguments must be syntactically licensed (i.e. by Agree) but that the features by which arguments are licensed can vary between languages. I discuss in detail the realization of Person Licensing in Ojibwe in the absence of Case, as well as in other languages showing Person Restrictions. Argument Licensing facilitates a deeper understanding of the principles that underlie arguments and their behaviour in the syntactic derivation, without being restricted by the exact realization of Case alone.
 
I first present a detailed analysis of Ojibwe verbal morphology, focusing on the infamous Algonquian Inverse System and verbal theme-sign suffixes that I claim encode the person (π) features of multiple arguments (see also Bloomfield 1957; Rhodes 1994; McGinnis 1999; Bruening 2001, 2009). I adopt the notion of Cyclic Agree of a π-probe on v with multiple arguments from Béjar & Rezac (2009), and posit morphosyntactic π-features (e.g. Harley & Ritter 2002) organized by entailment relations (see Cowper 2005). I revise the mechanics of Cyclic Agree to fully account for the Ojibwe data, including apparent intransitive morphology on a transitive verbal complex and the conjunct morphology found in embedded clauses. I claim that Person Restrictions (i.e. the Strong Person-Case Constraint, Bonet 1991) in Ojibwe ditransitives are accounted for by Cyclic Agree and the requirement of Person Licensing (i.e. π-features on arguments must enter an Agree relation). I argue that Person Restrictions are generally derived by a need for Person Licensing, and that similar restrictions in French, Spanish, Basque, Icelandic and other languages directly relate to the derivation of the Ojibwe Inverse System by Cyclic Agree with v (related approaches found in Anagnostopoulou 2003, 2005; Béjar & Rezac 2003; Adger & Harbour 2007; Heck & Richards 2010).
 
I further claim that Ojibwe is a caseless language, indicated by a lack of Case phenomena (see Ritter & Rosen 2005; see also related work in Ritter & Wiltschko 2004, 2007, 2010), and that Ojibwe arguments are subject to Person Licensing in the absence of Case. I claim that Case and Person Licensing are distinct realizations of the underlying principle of Argument Licensing (a generalized version of the Case Filter), and that Person Licensing is identified by a bundle of properties relating to the checking of π-features that are not shared with a standard view of Case. My view of licensing allows for a three-way typology where a language may license arguments by Case, Person, or by both as in Romance languages that have Case phenomena as well as Person Restrictions. I discuss a range of data that fall under my view of Person Licensing centered on v, including the Person Case Constraint, psych verb constructions and split-ergativity by person.
 
My main proposal is that Case itself is not a universal of human language but is instead a robust realization of an underlying universal of Argument Licensing. I claim that my approach to the distribution of arguments achieves better coverage of the data by allowing for greater cross-linguistic variation that is unified at a deeper level by the principle of Argument Licensing.
 
 
 
followed by a reception in the lounge
All are welcome!

0 Responses to “Bethany Lochbihler’s Ph.D. Oral Defense – Monday 11/12”


Comments are currently closed.
Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.