Speaker Series: Susi Wurmbrand

Susi Wurmbrand of University of Connecticut will be giving a talk (abstract below).


The talk will be in the IRCS Conference Room at 3:30pm and will be followed by the GradLingS reception. You must be over 21 and possess a valid ID to attend the second event.


The domain(s) of restructuring


Since the seminal works by Rizzi and Aissen & Perlmutter many important studies of restructuring/clause union have been provided in various generative frameworks. Due to the variability of contexts that allow restructuring (both within and across languages), most studies are restricted to specific languages and the conclusions reached in those works (e.g., about the size of restructuring infinitives or the mechanisms creating restructuring effects) are often contradictory. In this talk, I provide an overview of restructuring in 23 typologically diverse languages, and I argue that rather than a single restructuring “parameter” there are specific points of variation that conspire to create different degrees of restructuring. The cross-linguistic distribution of three restructuring properties (long object movement, clitic climbing, inter-clausal scrambling) shows that two types of restructuring need to be distinguished: voice restructuring, which determines whether a language does or doesn’t allow long object movement (such as long passive), and size restructuring, which regulates the distribution of clitic climbing and scrambling. Concretely, I argue that the cross-linguistic diversity of restructuring is derived from the existence/absence of a particular voice head and the location of the target position of scrambling and clitic movement. Following Grohmann (2003), I adopt the view that clauses are composed of three domains (A’-domain, tense domain, and thematic domain), and that size restructuring, which is hypothesized to be available universally, arises when the tense and/or A’-domains are not projected. The cross-linguistic differences in the availability of clitic climbing and inter-clausal scrambling are attributed to different target positions of these operations. Restructuring effects only arise when the target position of clitics/scrambling is within a domain that can be omitted as part of size restructuring. If the target position is in a domain lower than the domain(s) affected by size restructuring, restructuring effects do not arise. One of the main general contributions of this study is that despite the initial diversity of restructuring, certain generalizations emerge that allow us to separate language-specific points of variation from the contribution of UG that restricts this variation in predictable ways.

Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 3:30pm - 6:00pm
IRCS Conference Room