Dissertation Proposal Defense: Luke Adamson

Jun 26, 2018 at - | The seminar room in the Linguistics Department, on the third floor of 3401-C Walnut St. (Suite 300, C Wing).


Luke Adamson will be defending his dissertation proposal on Tuesday, June 26th, at 10:00 a.m.




Working Title: Towards a Unified Theory of Adjective and Participle Agreement
Dissertation Supervisor: Rolf Noyer
Proposal Committee: David Embick, Anthony Kroch, Julie Anne Legate

The proposed dissertation develops a theory of adjective and participle agreement that captures divergences we observe across different syntactic positions, such as secondary predicates, reduced relatives, and attributives. In essence, the dissertation reduces positional differences to syntactic structure without resorting to additional mechanisms such as feature percolation (cf. Norris 2014), unifying the treatment of all such agreement. The derivational theory advanced here offers insight into the interactions between the operation Agree (e.g. Chomsky 2000,2001, Pesetsky and Torrego 2007), the deletion of unvalued features, minimal pronouns (Kratzer 2009), and how these interactions produce positional variation as well as patterns of hybrid and non-agreement.The theory is tested chiefly through an examination of three agreement phenomena. First, I explore the distribution of indeclinable adjectives in Lithuanian, which exhibit not only an apparent attributive/predicative split, but also exhibit striking syntactic restrictions in which, despite being default 'non-agreement' forms, not even these are acceptable. Second, I investigate the contrast between case agreement and non-agreement in Icelandic, which also exhibits variation according to position, in a way that implicates syntactic conditions on the deletion of unvalued features. Third, I investigate two patterns in Italian: hybrid agreement with fixed-gender nouns, which is enabled in part by features on minimal pronouns; and split coordination among attributive adjectives, which shows a different agreement pattern according to whether the coordination uses prenominal or postnominal adjectives -- I reduce this as well to syntactic structure rather than distinct agreement mechanisms. The dissertation thus shows how a unified treatment of agreement countenances positional variation, and in addition, makes connections between different positions whose similarities have been underappreciated.