750 Proseminar in Syntax (3 units)

Fall 2008

Meetings

W 2:30-5:15 - Hasbrouck Add 106

Website

http://people.umass.edu/pspeas/750/index.html

Instructors

Ellen Woolford []

Margaret Speas []

Description

Treatment in depth of a selected area of linguistic theory, with emphasis on developing students' ability to conduct research in syntactic theory.

Fall 2008: Reference Tracking in Native American Languages

This seminar will focus on reference tracking devices, broadly conceived, in several language families in North America, including Algonquian, Athabaskan, Iroquoian, and Muskogean. These devices involve syntactic and morphosyntactic systems that do not fit neatly into existing theories of phi features, agreement and Case. The topics to be covered include inverse/directional systems, obviation, switch reference, and animacy hierarchy effects. We will explore the question of whether these systems should be accounted for within theories of Case and Agreement. If so, what are the parameters that distinguish such systems from more familiar systems? If not, do the properties of these systems follow from syntactic configurations, or must they be encoded as part of the morphosyntactic system? Progress on these questions will give us insight into the crosslinguistic properties of the mappings between argument structure, syntax, PF and discourse representation.