On May 3, 2023, Gwendolyn Hildebrandt, advised by Charles Yang, successfully defended her PhD proposal, entitled "Distributional cues to differences in syntactic structure: case studies in Korean”. Her proposal committee included Julie Anne Legate and Martin Salzmann and was chaired by Rolf Noyer
Abstract: How can syntactic and learnability analyses inform each other, and thus broaden/deepen our understanding of how the acquisition of syntax progresses? I aim to illuminate this question through three case studies in Korean syntax. In particular, I examine cases in which two (or more) constructions that display distinct syntactic properties share extremely similar surface forms. These cases restrict the space of possible explanations for how learners may arrive at distinct underlying structures, since this cannot be motivated by obvious differences in the form of the constructions; instead, it seems that the learner must be led to form said conclusions on the basis of their linguistic input--distributional cues. These case studies draw on both grammaticality data from consultations, for syntactic analyses, and corpus data, to model the linguistic input. I utilize the Sufficiency Principle (Yang 2016) to predict what generalizations a learner should make about syntactic properties of the constructions at hand, and illustrate how this kind of learnability analysis is both informed by and supports formal syntactic analyses.