LLI Meeting: Oct 7, 2013

This week we will have two presentations: Andrew McKishnie and Amir Anvari.

Andrew’s talk

Title: Depictives in East Slavic: Two Cases, How Many Structures?

Abstract: This paper investigates depictive predication in East Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian). These languages are known to have two case-marking patterns in depictive predication, yielding two different types of depictives, those that agree in case with the argument that they modify (Case Agreement Depictives or CADs) and those which invariably show instrumental case (Instrumental Case Marked Depictives or ICMDs). These are illustrated in Russian below:

Milicija           privela      ego          domoj     pyanogo/pyanim.
police.NOM   brought    he.ACC   home      drunk.ACC/drunk.INST
‘The police brought him home drunk.’

Richardson (2006) has proposed that both structures are adjuncts to either the VP or vP, with the only difference being the case-assigning mechanisms.

This paper describes the distribution of the grammatical relations that can undergo depictive modification in each of these structures, as well as to provide an analysis that accounts for the differences in case-marking. CADs are found to occur with subjects, objects, indirect objects and objects of prepositions, while ICMDs are found to occur only with subjects and objects. This led to an analysis of CADs as DP-adjuncts to the argument that they modify, which also accounts for the case-marking facts, as the depictive would then receive the case assigned to the entire DP, like the analysis given by Irimia (2005) for depictives which agree in case.

ICMDs, on the other hand, are analyzed as VP- or vP-adjuncts in Russian and Ukrainian, depending on whether they modified the object or subject, respectively, following the  analysis of Richardson (2006). Case is proposed to be assigned by default in ICMDs, since these structural positions are not associated with a case-assigning head. ICMDs in Belarusian, however, are analyzed as combining with either the V head when modifying the object or the v’ projection when modifying the subject, as these types of depictives in Belarusian shared the same distribution as the <e,st> type depictives described by Pylkkänen (2008). The key feature that distinguishes the Belarusian ICMDs is that Belarusian does not allow depictive modification of an implicit external argument in a passive, while Russian and Ukrainian do allow this.

Aside from offering a structural account of the divergent case-marking properties between the two structures, this paper is one of the first syntactic analyses of the Belarusian language, adding to the typological breadth of the current syntactic literature.

Amir’s Talk

Title: Persian Indefinites

Abstract: In this talk I will discuss the semantic/pragmatic behaviour of the Persian indefinite marker –i in a class of very restricted syntax environments. I will provide evidence that suggest, at least in these constructions, –i acts as a presupposition trigger. I will use this tentative proposal as a basis to argue that -i and the determiner ie, the other indefinite marker in Persian, are in competition with each other. This latter conclusion then gives us a possible explanation of some puzzling facts about the use-conditions of indefinite markers in Persian, such as why someone can have sar-e bozorg-i (head-ezafe big-indef), but not ie sar-e bozorg (indef big-ezafe head) both meaning “a big head”.

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