linguistics

Seminar Series: "The syntactic and postsyntatic derivation of agreement: Basque and beyond"

Recent work on agreement has uncovered evidence that morphological properties of sentences (such as syncretism) interact in non-trivial ways with agreement relations. In this talk, I provide an analysis of this type of interaction between morphology and agreement in terms of a two-step theory of agreement. Adopting the terminology in Arregi and Nevins 2012, we can refer to these as Agree-Link, or the syntactic establishment of an Agree relation between Probe (agreement target) and one or more Goals (agreement controller(s)), and Agree-Copy, or the postsyntactic copying from Agree-Linked Goal(s) onto the Probe. Evidence for this split of Agree into two separate steps comes from the fact that they can be derivationally intercalated by postsyntactic operations such as Linearization in Hindi and Slovenian (Bhatt and Walkow 2013, and Marusic, Nevins and Badecker 2015) postsyntactic morpheme displacement (cliticization) in Bulgarian (Arregi and Nevins 2013), and Vocabulary Insertion (exponence) in West Germanic (van Koppen 2005).

I offer evidence for this two-step analysis of agreement from a different empirical domain, namely, the interaction of agreement with case syncretisms due to postsyntacic impoverishment (in the sense of Distributed Morphology) in Indo-Aryan and Basque. In both cases, variation in the possibility of agreement with oblique case-marked arguments (ergative in Indo-Aryan, dative in Basque) is due to a uniform establishment of syntactic Agree-Link relations, coupled with dialect- or language-particular differences in the application of Agree-Copy and its derivational interaction with postsyntactic impoverishment rules.

The interaction of agreement and case syncretism in these languages converges with other phenomena in arguing for a strongly derivational theory of Agree in which the latter is established in two steps, the second of which is postsyntactic and can interact in different derivationally defined ways with other postsyntactic operations. The variation found is thus largely reduced to familiar feeding and counterfeeding interactions among operations in a derivational theory.

Date: 
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - 12:00pm to 2:00pm
Location: 
W.T. Young Library 2-34A (Active Learning Classroom)
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Seminar Series: "An Overview of the Structure of Romani"

This lecture will introduce the basic structures that define Romani as a unified language, as well as its basic dialectal divisions. Special attention will be paid to Balkan Romani and to Romani as a Balkan language.

Date: 
Wednesday, December 2, 2015 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Location: 
Niles Gallery (Fine Arts Library)
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Seminar Series: "Convergent evolution in French-Breton and Welsh-English language contact"

The two closely related Celtic languages Breton and Welsh represent an interesting comparative laboratory for exploring language contact phenomena, since much of the period of their divergence from a common ancestor has been accompanied by intense language contact: Breton with French, and Welsh with English. A number of the ways that the modern forms of the two Celtic languages differ from each other, including reflexive and reciprocal constructions and the encoding of motion events, can be seen as cases in which the two languages have, over time, moved in the direction of aligning their patterns with those of French and English respectively, in a process of convergent evolution which is distinct from, though related to, grammatical borrowing. In neither modern language do the patterns match those of the contact language perfectly, but the isomorphy with French and English is nonetheless striking, especially when seen against the background of other effects of intense contact in these languages.

Date: 
Monday, October 12, 2015 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Location: 
Niles Gallery (Fine Arts Library)
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Public Lecture: " 'Germanness' and the Forced State Resettlement of Russian Citizens of German Descent in WWI"

In fall 1914, as the Kaiser’s armies invaded towns in the western territories of the Imperial Russian Empire known as Russian Poland (now eastern Poland and southern Lithuania), the Russian government, for the first time, forcibly exiled thousands its own citizens in the region into interior Russia, declaring them a suspect group. The exiles consisted mainly of virtually the entire minority population of Russian Germans in Russian Poland. The ancestors of most had been Russian subjects for at least a century, and many of the exiles had served in the Imperial Russian Army themselves, some as career officers. The Council of Ministers in St. Petersburg, however, feared that this population held loyalties to the German lands and would collaborate with the German armies.

The Russian provincial military police were assigned the task of rounding up all “Germans”, confiscating their property, and putting them on overcrowded trains to Kazan and other interior Russian towns that were not equipped to handle the enormous influx of migrants from Russian Poland. This task caused the police much concern, because many individuals who spoke Polish with their families at home and considered themselves Polish had German surnames. Moreover, some individuals with Polish, Lithuanian, or Russian surnames had been baptized in German-language Lutheran churches. A rich trove of formerly secret police files on the resettlement of the Russian Germans, kept earlier at the Museum of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) in Moscow and now located in the National Historical Museum of Lithuania and the Pułtusk Historical Archive in Poland, contains a great deal of internal police correspondence on what criteria should be followed for identifying an individual as “German” for purposes of the resettlement of Russian Germans. Based on the police correspondence, witness statements in treason investigations, and a first-hand report in the archives by a Russian police officer trapped in the Kałwaria during the German occupation, this presentation covers the criterion for “Germanness” that was eventually issued by the Russian Council of Ministers, the self-identity of those who were officially identified as “German”, and the perceptions of their Polish, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Jewish, and Russian neighbors regarding their political loyalties. 

Cynthia Vakareliyska holds a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University, and is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Oregon, where she teaches Slavic and general linguistics. Her research specialization are historical Slavic linguistics and medieval Slavic manuscript studies. Her 2008 book The Curzon Gospel received the 2009 AATSEEL book prize for Slavic linguistics, the 2009 Bulgarian Studies Association book prize, and the 2010 Early Slavic Studies Distinguished Scholarship award. Her most recent book, Lithuanian Root List, is in press with Slavica Publishers. She is currently writing a book on the Russian Germans in Russian Poland, based on her study of archive documents in Lithuanian and Polish archives over the past 15 years.

 

Date: 
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Location: 
Lexmark Room (Main Building)
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Seminar Series: "Multiple Language, Cultural, and Ethnic Self-Identities of the German Lutheran Population in 'Russian Poland' in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries"

Most studies of language and confessional minorities focus on the self-identity, singular, of members of a minority community. Some minority populations, however, have two or more concurrent language, cultural, and ethnic self-identities (although usually only one confessional self-identity). This talk examines the self-perceptions of an understudied minority population, the Lutheran Russian Germans living in the western part of the Russian Empire known as Congress Poland or “Russian Poland” (now eastern Poland and southern Lithuania) during the 19th and early 20th centuries, before they were forcibly resettled by the Russian government into interior Russia during World War One.

The Russian Germans, also known as “German Russians,” were Russian citizens, the descendants of German artisans who had migrated to Russia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by invitation of Catherine the Great and Paul I. Those in Russian Poland lived mostly in integrated communities together with Poles, Lithuanians, Jews, Belarusians, and Russians. Most were trilingual in Polish, Russian, and Low German, with some knowing Lithuanian as well. Based on documents in Lithuanian and Polish archives and a private collection in the U.S., the talk focuses on the Lutheran Russian German populations in the adjoining provinces of Suwałczyzna and Łomża (now Suvalkija in Lithuania and Mazowsze in Poland, respectively) and their adoption of Polish, Lithuanian, and Russian cultural features, as reflected in their naming and signature practices, language choices, cuisine, and self-identity as a group during a period when the concept of ethnicity had not yet been developed in Russia.

Date: 
Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Location: 
Niles Gallery (Fine Arts Library)
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"It’s not just a drawl, y’all: Fact vs. fiction in Kentucky speech" (student documentary film on Kentucky English)

Rough cut viewing about a half hour in length of a UK-student-created documentary film, followed by a panel discussion.  Viewing and discussion are open to the public, so bring a friend or two!

Date: 
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Location: 
Center Theater (Old Student Center)
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Seminar Series: Undergraduate Research Presentation

[1] Samantha Dunn:
Impairments in Morphology Through the Lifespan.
An overview of how language, specifically morphology, develops and what it looks like when there is delay. Even when normal language development occurs, we are still at risk for language impairment due to brain damage. Often, a stroke can result in a language disorder known as aphasia. Aphasia results in a wide range of issues, but I will be focused on how morphology is affected following a brain injury that results in aphasia.

[2] Clare Harshey:
A Network Morphology Theory of Old Norse Nominal Inflection.
Network morphology is a framework which has proven useful and accurate for morphological analysis in a wide range of languages. Using computational notation, it models lexical information as a collection of interrelated nodes containing facts, drawing information from one another to generate the appropriate morphological forms. Using the KATR language to construct such a theory, Old Norse nouns can be modeled accurately and intuitively.

Date: 
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Location: 
Niles Gallery
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Seminar Series: Absolutive Fabulous: Surprisingly Sensitive Sanskrit Suffixes

It seems perhaps unlikely that a language would maintain a single special alternative suffix, to be deployed just in case the word to be inflected has in its derivational history another particular kind of operation. Indeed such situations do arise, however, a notable case from Sanskrit being the gerund, also known as the indeclinable past participle, or the absolutive:


(1) General gerund formation:
√bhū- ‘be’: ger. bhūtvā ‘[after] having been’ or ‘[when X] had been’ (MacDonell [1927] 1986: 137)
√jñā- ‘know’: ger. jñātvā ‘[after] having known’ or ‘[when X] had known’
(Whitney [1885] 1945: 56)
√vac- ‘speak’: ger. uktvā ‘[after] having spoken’ or ‘[when X] had spoken’
(Gonda 1966: 78)

Specifically, the gerund form is created in the general case by suffixing -tvā to the so-called 'weak-grade' root. When the verb lexeme in question is the result of prefixing a(n etymological) preposition as a pre-verb (PV), by contrast, the formation of the gerund is systematically distinct, involving a potentially distinct stem and an unrelated -ya suffix instead:

(2) PV-prefixed gerund formation:
ger. nipatya ‘having fallen down’ (ni- ‘down, into’; compare √pat- ‘fall, fly’: ger. patitvā)
(Mayrhofer [1964] 1972: 103; Whitney [1885] 1945: 94)
ger. vimucya ‘having freed’ (vi- ‘apart’; compare √muc- ‘release’: ger. muktvā)
(Gonda 1966: 78; Whitney [1885] 1945: 122)
ger. pratyāgatya ‘having returned’ (prati- ‘reverse, back’; ā- ‘(un)to, at’; √gam- ‘go’: ger. gatvā) (Deshpande 2003: 122, 428; Whitney [1885] 1945: 34)

This choice among suffixes seems to depend on the presence or absence of a non-adjacent morphological boundary, and as such, the phenomenon's status between derivation and inflection, between regular and irregular, will inevitably force morphological theories into some potentially uncomfortable positions.

Of course, some frameworks are simply not up to the task, straining to minimize its theoretical significance, or playing fast and loose with fragmented stipulations that cover the facts, but miss the generalization(s). Rather than crowning one framework as uniquely suited to the descriptive task, however, the very process of rotating through the lenses of diverse morphological frameworks presents a clearer, and indeed more coherent picture of the Sanskrit gerund than any single approach can.

Date: 
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Location: 
WTY Library 2-34A (Active Learning Classroom)
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Public Lecture: "From Arab nationalism to New Media"

Date: 
Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Location: 
CB 110 (Whitehall Classroom Building)
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Public Lecture: "Hittites, Greeks, and Others: Interaction between Ancient Anatolia, Greece, and the Levant"

One of a group of Indo-European speaking peoples intrusive to Anatolia, the Hittites rose from a modest city state to establish first a kingdom on the central plateau and then an empire that fought with the kings of Babylon and Assyria, the Hurrians, and the pharaohs of Egypt for control of SE Anatolia, Syria and Palestine, and contended with one or more Mycenaean Greek kings over western Asia Minor. One of their many vassal states was Wilusa, certainly to be identified with Troy. The multiethnic Hittite kingdom absorbed heavy cultural influence from many peoples and played a role in transmitting Ancient Near Eastern culture to the Greeks. A combination of factors, including the assaults of the “Sea Peoples”, brought an end to the Hittite Empire shortly after 1200 BCE, but some former subordinate states inherited their name and culture and maintained a degree of independence for several centuries until conquered by the Assyrians. It is these “Neo-Hittite” states that are represented in the “Hittites” of the Old Testament.

Date: 
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Location: 
Marksbury Building - Hardymon Theater
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