Bogomolets, Fenger & Stegovec | Syntax

The article “Movement in disguise: Morphology as a diagnostic for verb movement in Algonquian”, by Ksenia Bogomolets (PhD 2020, now at Māori Language Commission & University of Auckland), Paula Fenger (PhD 2020, now at Leipzig University), and Adrian Stegovec, has just appeared online ahead of its print publication in the journal Syntax.

Abstract: This paper argues for a unification of two seemingly unrelated phenomena from unrelated language families: Verb Second in Germanic, and Conjunct versus Independent Order in Algonquian. It is argued that both reflect the possibility of the verb moving to C. While in Germanic this results in word order differences, in Algonquian V-to-C movement is detectable only via morphological alternations in agreement morphology. Under this view, Conjunct/Independent agreement and V2 are merely distinct reflexes of the same underlying process. This opens up new avenues of research in relation to V-to-C movement, framing it as a parametric option with potentially very different surface results in different languages depending on the setting of other parameters.

The Linguistic Review | Special Issue

A special issue of The Linguistic Review on “Workspace, MERGE and Labelling”, guest edited by Victor Junnan Pan, Mamoru Saito and Yuqiao Du, was recently published (Volume 41, Issue 1, February 2024)The issue is the culmination of the Workshop on Workspace, MERGE and Labeling, which was held on August 7th, 2022 as part of GLOW in Asia XIII, hosted by the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The papers in the issue are based on select talks presented at the workshop and main conference, and many of them are authored by current UConn linguistics faculty and alumni:

  • Željko Bošković. On wh and subject positions, the EPP, and contextuality of syntax
  • Mamoru Saito. On Minimal Yield and Form Copy: evidence from East Asian languages
  • Hiromune Oda (PhD 2021, now at University of Tokyo). Large-scale pied-piping in the labeling theory and conditions on weak heads
  • Adrian Stegovec. The third way: object reordering as ambiguous labeling resolution

Magdalena Kaufmann | Book chapter on Imperative clauses

Magdalena Kaufmann‘s chapter “Imperative clauses” has been published as part of the book Wh-exclamatives, Imperatives and Wh-questions: Issues on Brazilian Portuguese (De Gruyter Mouton 2024, edited by Simone Guesser, Ani Marchesan and Paulo Medeiros Junior).

Abstract: This chapter introduces imperatives as the class of sentential form types in natural languages that are prototypically associated with the speech act of ordering. I show that imperatives serve for a crosslinguistically stable, but in itself diverse range of speech acts, which makes it challenging to find a common conventional core meaning that would explain the pattern. I discuss specific issues relating to the absence of intuitively accessible truth-values and restrictions on embedding. I then turn to a brief overview of syntactic assumptions about imperatives in general, before considering the status of grammatical categories like subject marking, tense and aspect, and negation in imperative clauses in more detail. Finally, I consider instances of imperative marking as occurring in embedded positions, as well as form types appearing in similar and typically smaller ranges of related functions.


Magdalena Kaufmann | Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Magdalena Kaufmann‘s paper “From Coherence Relations to the Grammar of Pronouns and Tense” has just appeared in Vol. 23, No. 69 of the Croatian Journal of Philosophy.

Abstract: Stojnić (2021) argues that the content of linguistic utterances is determined by the rules of natural language grammar more stringently than what is generally assumed. She proposes specifically that coherence relations are encoded by the linguistic structures and determine what individuals count as most prominent, thereby serving as the referents of free (“demonstrative”) pronouns. In this paper, I take a close look at the empirical evidence from English and Serbian that she offers in support of this position. Considering these data points in connection with additional linguistic data (also from German and Japanese), I argue that there is no compelling evidence for the assumption that coherence relations directly determine the resolution of pronouns. Instead, grammatical restrictions imposed by different types of pronouns and tenses have a larger impact on the meaning conventionally expressed by complex utterances than what is generally assumed in the literature on coherence relations.

Bogomolets & Van der Hulst | OUP Monograph

Word Prominence in Languages with Complex Morphologies co-edited by Ksenia Bogomolets (PhD 2020, now at Māori Language Commission & University of Auckland) and Harry van der Hulst has been published by Oxford University Press.

This volume focuses on the theoretical and analytical challenges that languages with complex morphologies pose for the theory and typology of word-level prosodic phenomena. The morphological complexity and phonological length that are characteristic of words in these languages make them a particularly fruitful ground for investigating the effects of both phonological and morphological factors in the assignment of prominence. The first three chapters in the volume explore general theoretical issues pertaining to word prominence in synthetic languages, including the issue of ‘wordhood’ and the empirical, theoretical, and methodological issues with delineating word-level prominence and the higher-level prosodic phenomena in these languages. These are followed by a series of case studies on stress, accent, and tone in a geographically and genetically diverse set of languages with highly synthetic morphologies including languages of the Americas, Europe and Asia, and Australia. The volume adopts an interdisciplinary perspective, combining phonetic, phonological, and morphosyntactic insights. It will be of interest not only to phonologists and morphologists, but to all those interested in the typological and theoretical issues relating to polysynthetic languages.

The volume also contains chapters written by Ksenia and Harry:

  • Ksenia Bogomolets. Accent and tone in Arapaho
  • Harry van der Hulst. A unified account of phonological and morphological accent

Van der Hulst | A Mind for Language

A Mind for Language: An Introduction to the Innateness Debate written Harry van der Hulst has just been published by Cambridge University Press.

How does human language arise in the mind? To what extent is it innate, or something that is learned? How do these factors interact? The questions surrounding how we acquire language are some of the most fundamental about what it means to be human and have long been at the heart of linguistic theory. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to this fascinating debate, unravelling the arguments for the roles of nature and nurture in the knowledge that allows humans to learn and use language. An interdisciplinary approach is used throughout, allowing the debate to be examined from philosophical and cognitive perspectives. It is illustrated with real-life examples and the theory is explained in a clear, easy-to-read way, making it accessible for students without a background in linguistics. An accompanying website contains a glossary, questions for reflection, discussion themes and project suggestions, to further deepen students understanding of the material.


Goodwin & Lillo-Martin | Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Ed.

The article “Deaf and Hearing American Sign Language–English Bilinguals: Typical Bilingual Language Development by Corina Goodwin (PhD 2016) and Diane Lillo-Martin has just been published in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education ( Congratulations!

Abstract: Some studies have concluded that sign language hinders spoken language development for deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children even though sign language exposure could protect DHH children from experiencing language deprivation. Furthermore, this research has rarely considered the bilingualism of children learning a signed and a spoken language. Here we compare spoken English development in 2–6-year-old deaf and hearing American Sign Language–English bilingual children to each other and to monolingual English speakers in a comparison database. Age predicted bilinguals’ language scores on all measures, whereas hearing status was only significant for one measure. Both bilingual groups tended to score below monolinguals. Deaf bilinguals’ scores differed more from monolinguals, potentially because of later age of and less total exposure to English, and/or to hearing through a cochlear implant. Overall, these results are consistent with typical early bilingual language development. Research and practice must treat signing-speaking children as bilinguals and consider the bilingual language development literature.

Carstens | Linguistic Inquiry

Vicki Carstens’s article “Nguni bare nouns: licensing without Case” has just appeared online ahead of its print publication in Linguistic Inquiry. Congratulations, Vicki!

Abstract: Nguni bare or augmentless([–A]) nominals are licit only as strict negative dependents and wh-words. They may not appear in a preverbal subject position unless local to a negation-licensed [–A] complementizer of a subjunctive clause (Pietraszko 2021). This pattern motivates an analysis in terms of negative concord and a labeling theory approach to the Extended Projection Principle (EPP) (Chomsky 2013): [–A] nouns have uninterpretable negation features that thwart agreement and labeling in [XP, YP] configurations (see also Bošković 2019, 2020 on uninterpretable features and labeling problems) unless valued by interpretable negation in a syntactic Agree relation (Zeijlstra 2008, Haegeman and Lohndal 2010, Penka 2011). A cluster of further distributional restrictions on [–A] nominals are predictable from an independently motivated Nguni clausal topography of focus (Carstens and Mletshe 2016), eliminating any role for abstract Case in explaining the facts, contra Halpert 2015 and Pietraszko 2021. The analysis is inspired by and extends to parallel restrictions in Romance languages previously attributed to the Empty Category Principle and the EPP (Contreras 1986, Longobardi 1994, Déprez 2000, Landau 2007).

van der Hulst festschrift & NAPhCxii workshop

Harry van der Hulst was honored with a festschrift and special satellite workshop organized by Nancy Ritter at the Twelfth North American Phonology Conference (NAPhCxii), held at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, May 14, 2023.

Harry also gave an invited presentation at the main conference titled What can stress tell us about the structure of synthetic compounds?


Presentations by current/former UConn affiliates included:

At the satellite workshop:

Aida Talic (PhD 2017, now at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Phases and accent assignment domains

Alexandre Vaxman (PhD 2016, now at University of Tours). Interaction of phonological and diacritic weight in hybrid accent systems

Rachel Channon. A new feature type: Functional features in sign languages

At the main conference:

Shengyun Gu, Diane Lillo-Martin and Deborah Chen Pichler (PhD 2001, now at Gallaudet). Phonological Development in ASL-Signing Children: Pseudosign Repetition


Photo: UConn affiliates at the workshop in person.

Front row: Shengyun Gu, Deborah Chen Pichler

Back row: Aida Talic, Alexandre Vaxman, Nancy Ritter, Harry van der Hulst, Diane Lillo-Martin