Anglia Ruskin–Cambridge Romance Linguistics Seminars

Our seminars are normally held on Tuesdays from 1 to 2pm (termtime) and are designed to encourage scientific debate within the area of Romance linguistics.

Please note that, given the current situation, we moved our seminars online. The relevant links will be sent to our mailing list before scheduled talks. If you want to attend the talks or if you want to present your research, please get in touch with us.

*For Lent 2021, we have teamed up with the RoLO (Romance Linguistics Seminars Online) team to put on a joint program of talks and events.*

LENT 2021 (with RoLO)

TUESDAY 16 MARCH 2021

Speaker: Caterina Bonan (University of Cambridge)

Title: Low focus movement in Romance

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online* (register here in order to receive the Zoom link: https://forms.gle/2g1j5u1NTmemEsne9)

Abstract: The mainstream literature on the Romance dialects of northern Italy has explained the morphosyntax of clause-internal wh-elements in answer-seeking interrogatives as either the result of interrogative movement into the lower portion of the high left periphery (Munaro et al. 2001, Poletto & Pollock 2015, a.o.), or as a canonical instance of scope construal (Manzini & Savoia 2005;2011). However, new empirical evidence from Romance suggests that there is more at stake in the computation of wh-interrogatives than we used to think, and that neither of the existing approaches to northern Italian ‘wh-in situ’ can be maintained. I argue that northern Italian dialects and Asian languages are, at least in this respect, more similar than we originally thought, and then I offer a new, derivationally economic and cross-linguistically supported understanding of the morphosyntax of northern Italian wh-in situ: the theory of wh-to-foc. Accordingly, all cross-linguistic core properties of this phenomenon are attributed to different combinations of the setting universal micro-parameters related to the interrogative movement(s) of wh-elements.

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TUESDAY 9 MARCH 2021

Speaker: Andrés Saab (IIF-SADAF-CONICET & Universidad de Buenos Aires)

Title: From free pronouns to probes. A theory for a subset of Spanish clitics

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online* (register here in order to receive the Zoom link: https://forms.gle/pgJdNy9JjNP4CPn5A)

Abstract: Among the myriads of Spanish varieties, Rioplatense Spanish is well-known for having an extended pattern of clitic doubling (cfr. 1 and 2 for accusative doubling), both for accusative and dative arguments.

(1) * (Me) vio a mí. [General Spanish]
CL.1.SG.ACC see:PST.3.SG ACC me
‘(S)he saw me.’
(2) a. Santos (la) miró a Rosa. [Argentinean Spanish]
Santos CL.3F.SG.ACC look-at:PST.3SG ACC Rosa
‘Santos looked at Rosa.’
b. La vieja (lo) tomó al llorón de la mano.
DET old-woman CL.3.M.SG.ACC take:PST.3SG ACC-DET weeper of DET hand
‘The old woman took the weeper one by the hand.’[adapted from Kany 1969, 148]

However, when compared, these arguments do not present a uniform distribution: whereas dative doubling is strongly preferred with almost any type of DP, accusative doubling is only triggered for a subset of DPs. But beyond this, there is a shared property:

(3) Generalization: Accusative and dative doubling is the superficial manifestation of an A-movement configuration.

In this talk, I develop two main theses:

(4) Thesis 1 (or the synchronic thesis): Doubled clitics are probes, i.e., pure syntactic indexes triggering A-movement.
Thesis 2 (or the diachronic thesis): Doubled clitics were borne as free pronouns. The observed pattern is the result of the erosion of the referential properties of those pronouns. In some cases, the erosion of the referential properties extended to all type of referential DPs (dative doubling) and in others only to a subset of them (accusative doubling).

I will show that the synchronic thesis is robustly confirmed by all the tools we have to diagnose A-movement (reconstruction, WCO, binding, agreement and so on). As far as the concrete implementation I defend, my analysis assumes that referential indexes in non-thematic position trigger syntactic A-movement for LF reason (essentially, the need for binding a stranded lambda abstractor). As for the diachronic thesis, it has more the character of conjecture. If it turns to be correct, I argue, then Rioplatense doubling could be conceived of a new window to look into the birth and evolution of a subset of syntactic probes related to the so-called (and so mysterious EPP property).

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TUESDAY 2 MARCH 2021

Speakers: Jan Casalicchio (Università di Palermo) & Michelle Sheehan (Anglia Ruskin University)

Title: Long passives of causatives and perception verbs in Italian: implications for phase theory

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online* (register here in order to receive the Zoom link: https://forms.gle/dreqKN9ue4S4b5ry9)

Abstract: In Romance, long passivization of perception/causative verbs is highly restricted. One potential explanation for this is that the complements of these verbs are often phasal voicePs which do not allow movement of embedded arguments to the main clause (Sheehan & Cyrino 2018). Italian, however, is a notable exception to this general pattern, since ECM complements of vedere ‘see’/sentire ‘hear’ and clause union complements of causative verbs both productively allow long passives.

In this presentation, we propose that this intra-Romance difference is due to microvariation in the syntax of causatives/perception verbs: reduced complements of these verbs can be of four different sizes, depending on the language and on the matrix verb: TP, voiceP, vP or VP, with only voiceP complements blocking long passivization. Italian is key to understanding this microvariation because it allows all four sizes of complement.

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TUESDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2021

Speakers: Jan Casalicchio (Università di Palermo) & Peter Herbeck (Universität Wien)

Title: The structure of Pseudo-relatives in Spanish. A preliminary account

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online* (register here in order to receive the Zoom link: https://forms.gle/dreqKN9ue4S4b5ry9)

Abstract: Spanish perception verbs select various complement types: a finite CP, a gerund, an infinitive, or a pseudo-relative construction. Albeit these configurations apparently have similar meanings, they show some fine-grained syntactic and semantic differences. In this talk, we investigate contrastively the properties and structure of these complements by means of corpus data and an acceptability judgment task performed online. We focus on some peculiarities, such as the (lack of) subject-object asymmetries and (im-)possibility of passivization. We argue that the differences between the various clauses derive (i) from their position (adjunction vs. complementation), (ii) their ‘size’ (VoiceP, FinP, CP), and (iii) whether they have phasal status or not. In the final part, we discuss some differences between Spanish PRs and Italian PRs, which, we propose, are due to the fact that Italian PRs can also have a secondary predicate structure. Therefore, Italian PRs are used in more contexts than their Spanish counterpart.

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TUESDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2021

Speaker: Paul O’Neill (University of Sheffield) 

Title: The boundary between morphology and phonology and the concept of morphologization

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online* (register here in order to receive the Zoom link: https://forms.gle/nAfBwXZXNs8qAByQ6)

Abstract: This contribution analyses, from a Romance perspective, the concept of morphologization and seeks to answer the following question: at what point does a historically proven phonological cause-and-effect relationship, whereby phonological feature X causes and determines phonological feature Y, cease to hold and the dephonologized Y element stand as a marker of some morphological distinction? The question is relevant to cases in which the original phonological conditioning element is still present and where it has disappeared. I explain that the answer to this question depends entirely on one’s conception of morphology and phonology. I argue against theories which adhere to the principle of lexical minimization and have a static conception of morphology which is restricted to the concatenation of idiosyncratic morphemes. These theories are forced by their theoretical underpinnings, which are often ideological and not supported by robust empirical evidence, to explain morphologized phenomena as being synchronically derived by the phonology. This approach comes at a huge cost: the model of phonology is endowed with powerful tools to make the analysis fit the theory and which ultimately diminishes the empirical content and plausibility of the phonological hypotheses; such approaches also constitute serious problems for language acquisition and learning. I argue for more dynamic and abstractive models of morphology, which do not impose strict restrictions on lexical storage. I ultimately view morphologization as an instance of morphologically conditioned phonology and uphold that there is no strict boundary between the phonology and morphology but both systems overlap and interact.

I analyse data and phonological explanations of metaphony in nouns and verbs in Italo-Romance, plural formation in Spanish and Portuguese and the distribution of verbal stress in Spanish.

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TUESDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2021

Speaker: Alberto Frasson (Utrecht University)

Title: Interface properties of subject clitics: a study on antecedent selection

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: In this talk I present a study on the antecedent selection of subject pronouns. I focus on interface properties related to the realisation and interpretation of subject clitics in different types of subordinate clauses in Venetan, a northern Italo-Romance language.Subject clitics have been one of the main topics in Italian generative syntactic analyses since the early 1980’s. Venetan subject clitics have traditionally been analysed as inflectional heads, on a par with verbal morphology: they are φ-agreement markers, realised every time a finite verb appears.In this study I focus on interface properties of Venetan subject clitics in three varieties of the language. I show that subject clitics can encode discourse-related properties and that their realisation in the contexts of topic shift and obviation depends on the presence of a discourse feature. In this sense, they display a behaviour comparable to that of tonic subject pronouns. This behaviour is not compatible with an analysis as inflectional heads.I propose that this analysis can be extended to the whole system of Venetan subject pronouns: the presence of a discourse feature can explain the distribution of null and overt subjects and their interpretation with respect to possible antecedents.Following Sundaresan (2013), I further propose a two-step model for antecedent selection: the relationship between the pronominal form in a subordinate clause and the antecedent in a matrix clause is always mediated by a null operator in the subordinate Spec-CP. Such operator is linked to a discourse antecedent in the matrix clause and assigned a discourse feature; it subsequently establishes a syntactic dependency with the pronominal form in the subordinate clause.

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TUESDAY 2 FEBRUARY 2021

Speaker: Laura Migliori (Universiteit Leiden)

Title: Purpose Prepositional Infinitives in Romance: properties and emergence

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract:

(1) Mia figlia prende l’autobus per andare a scuola [Italian]

my daughter-F.3SG take-3SG the bus to go-INF. to school

(2) Ma fille prend le bus pour aller à l’école [French]

my daughter- F.3SG take- 3SG the bus to go-INF. to school

‘My daughter takes the bus to go to school’

This kind of complement clause is not attested in Latin, which exhibits other strategies for expressing a purpose sentence. Moreover, the literature on Romance purpose clauses has mainly focused on the development of finite sentences, leaving the indefinite ones aside (cf. Cantero 2013, a. o.).

The main aims of this study will be: (i) analyse the properties of this Romance complement clause, with special attention to synchronic variation; (ii) formulate a hypothesis on its emergence during the Latin-Romance transition

MICHAELMAS 2020

*FrIDAY 9 October 2020*

Speaker: Ionuț Geană (Arizona State University / ‘Iorgu Iordan – Alexandru Rosetti’ Institute of Linguistics)

Title: The Morphosyntax of Istro-Romanian DPs

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: My presentation focuses on key elements of case marking in Istro-Romanian (IR), providing also a morphosyntactic account of IR DPs. Similar to Daco Romanian, IR has a four case system (nominative, accusative, genitive, dative), added by the vocative (which will not be discussed hereunder). As a member of the so-called Balkan Sprachbund, IR nouns oppose nominative-accusative to genitive dative (although not in all cases and not with the same productivity across IR varieties). Pronouns, on the other hand, show a full paradigm, with specific (suppletive) forms for each case, in line with all other Eastern Romance varieties. For the oblique, IR has both stressed/strong and non-stressed/clitic forms, however they have a different distribution than in standard and sub-standard Daco-Romanian. Differential object marking is virtually unheard of (with minor cases in northern IR). Indirect object doubling is rare(r), with possibly different pragmatic values than in Daco-Romanian. Corpus analysis will provide complex answers for my three research questions: (i) Is IR nominal morphology different from standard and/or regional Daco-Romanian?, (ii) Does IR nominal morphology pattern with any other Romance variety?, and (iii) What are (if any) the innovations of IR case marking?

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Thursday 15 October 2020

Speaker: Larisa Nicolaie (University of Bucharest)

Title: An acoustic analysis of the /ij/ diphthong in Standard Daco-Romanian

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: My presentation is trying to establish the behaviour of the -i desinence after roots ending in -i through an acoustic analysis. I have chosen words in which the diphthong /ij/ is preceded by different phonological contexts to see how the consonants before influence it. These words are nouns in which the -ii sequence is stressed or not. They were pronounced by two people, a man and a woman, both between 46 and 49 years old and both living in Bucharest. Furthermore, some of the words were placed in affirmative and interrogative contexts to prove that, by being part of a longer sentence, the diphthong no longer has the same intensity, duration, or pitch. The recordings were analyzed in PRAAT where I could notice the values of the duration, intensity, and pitch. We will see how the -ii sequence behaves in two different situations: one in which the nouns are pronounced from a list of words that includes those analyzed here and others which helped the speakers relax, and the other in which the words were part of an affirmative or interrogative sentence.

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Thursday 22 October 2020

Speaker: Francisco Javier Calvo del Olmo (Universidade Federal do Paraná)

Title: Intercomprehension between Romance Languages: a key for plurilingual education

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: Traditional approaches to language teaching – both native and foreign language teaching – have intimidated us with the specter of the “difficulty” of languages, either our own language or that of others. The result is a pessimistic representation of language that poses more obstacles for the learner than it opens doors. The practice of intercomprehension, however, is as old as human language, and has been enacted spontaneously for millennia. Systematizing this practice, giving it strong theoretical bases and effective didactic methods is the objective of this seminar, which focuses on the many possibilities of intercomprehension as an alternative approach to language learning, specifically among speakers of the Romance languages. In particular, key intercomprehension techniques include stimulating communication without hindrance through valuing the common features between languages, foregrounding the similarities, and discerning recognizable elements behind their differences. The cumulative population of Romance-speaking communities amounts to over one billion people – a number that speaks for itself – spread across all continents. The collective strengthening of romanophony also represents an active form of plural resistance to the growing impositions of hegemonic ways of speaking, living and thinking about the world.

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Thursday 29 October 2020

Speaker: Giuseppina Silvestri (UCLA)

Title: Lost voices: sociolinguistic observations on the epistemic future in two varieties of the same dialect

Time: *4-5pm* (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: In the evolution from Latin to Romance, the synthetic future of Latin was replaced by innovative formations in Romance, including a periphrastic structure formed with the infinitive of the verb and the inflected forms of the verb ‘have’, which underwent grammaticalization and resulted in the synthetic future found in most Romance languages. According to a traditional view, in Italo-Romance this type of future is indigenous to Tuscan (and standard Italian) and northern Italian varieties, while in southern varieties no original synthetic future is attested. Based on a more recent view, the synthetic future, which is attested in southern Italian varieties in a patch-like distribution and through defective paradigms, is seen as a relic form of an erstwhile more robustly attested type. Moreover, the synthetic future we observe today in southern Italian dialects underwent a semantic shift from expressing futurity to conveying epistemic modality only. I will discuss a case study concerning the retention and use of the synthetic epistemic future based on two distinct varieties of the same upper southern Italo Romance variety, i.e. the dialect of Verbicaro, spoken indigenously in north-western Calabria as well as in the community of Verbicarese speakers of São Paulo (Brazil), who migrated overseas in the last century.
Based on a sociolinguistic assessment of three different groups of speakers of Verbicarese 2, identified on the basis of their acquisitional history (i.e. monolingual L1 Verbicarese, bilingual Verbicarese-Portuguese, Verbicarese heritage speakers), I will provide a structural interpretation of the development of the synthetic epistemic future in Verbicarese 1. More specifically, I will show how an evident parallel occurs between the Verbicarese heritage speakers in São Paulo and the speakers of the indigenous variety born after 1965 in the grammar of the synthetic epistemic future.

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Thursday 5 November 2020

Speaker: Nicola Swinburne (University of Oxford)

Title: The grammaticalization of ‘do’-support in the northern Italian Camuno dialect

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: The three auxiliaries most commonly used cross-linguistically are ‘have’, ‘be’ and ‘do’. Yet modern Romance is surprisingly missing ‘do’, with one notable exception: the ‘do’-support recorded in interrogatives in the Monno dialect of Upper Val Camonica (Benincà & Poletto, 2004).
Although essentially obligatory in the Upper Valley, in Middle Val Camonica this analytic method (1) co-exists with the regionally common synthetic method of forming an interrogative by interverting main verb and subject clitic (2).

Fa-la mangià ‘l peh de hena, Maria? FS (Esine)
does-SCL.3F eat.INFIN the fish for supper Maria?

Mànge-la ‘l peh de hena, Maria? SCI (Esine)
eats-SCL.3F the fish for supper Maria?
“Is Maria eating/Does Maria (usually) eat fish for supper?”

Two important traits distinguish the two types of interrogative in the Middle Valley. Firstly, FS carries an additional pragmatic meaning of ‘presupposition’ and ‘emotional involvement’ that can be attributed to an ‘assertiveness’ semantics of ‘do’. It is responsible for a functional difference between FS and SCI that has permitted their long-term co-existence.
Secondly, in many dialects of Camuno FS is semantically restricted and it is most common with lexical verbs with a manner-activity aspectual semantics. This preference suggests an origin of ‘do’-support from a ‘do’ pro-verb, also a manner-activity verb, rather than the homophonous causative verb, which has a result-achievement semantics.
Relative use of FS with different verb aspectual classes has been measured quantitatively using an elicitation experiment. Overall the project has collected over 10,000 tokens from informants throughout the valley. The geographic variation between different dialects has been reconstructed into a grammaticalization sequence based on the semantics of fa ‘do’. The same sequence is found independently in three distinct valleys and appears to be a fundamental feature of the semantics of ‘do’.
The semantic content and pragmatic effect of fa ‘do’ can be detected as long as there is an alternative interrogative method. Thus rather than grammaticalization producing “semantic bleaching”, it seems that “semantic extension” is more appropriate. Furthermore the generalization of use from manner-activity verbs to result verbs and then statives seems dependent on the use of the verb and activity suggested in the context, not on the semantics of the verb itself. This is an indication that pragmatics drives the grammaticalization process.

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Thursday 12 November 2020

Speaker: Alice Corr (University of Birmingham)

Title: Romance vocatives and the topological mapping of deviance

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: The empirical behaviours and make-up of vocatives vis-à-vis other nominal constituents are often characterised in terms of their “exceptionality” and/or “deviance”, notions which also pervade our grammatical models of these items. In this paper, I put forward the case that the exceptionality of vocatives—in Romance at least—is merely apparent. I argue that the syntactically-constrained behaviours exhibited by Romance vocatives not only call into question the ascription of “deviance” to utterance-oriented nominal constituents, but that their “deviance” is predicted by reframing the empirical facts via the topological mapping theory of the grammar of reference (Longobardi 2005), on which the grammatical architecture yields semantic reference. Specifically, I apply and extend Sheehan & Hinzen’s (2011) phasal template, demonstrating how topological mapping principles can account for the empirical facts in Romance and the particular deictically-anchored meaning contributions of utterance-oriented nominal constituents. By showing how speakers “do things” with (nominal) grammar—here, with Romance vocatives—, I thus make the case for a conceptual rethinking of how we model vocatives, and, by extension, how we model the grammar-discourse interface in the nominal domain.

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Thursday 19 November 2020

Speaker: Sam Wolfe (University of Oxford)

Title: A Fresh Look at Old Italo-Romance ‘Si’

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: In this talk I’ll present a preliminary analysis of four Old Italo-Romance texts to better understand the syntax of the particle SI (cf. Fleischman 1990; Ledgeway 2008; Wolfe 2018; Meklenborg 2020). The proposal is that the variation attested can be understood in a model where SI is understood to be merged in distinct positions in the Old Italo-Romance left periphery. Furthermore, I will suggest that the distribution of SI may depend on the types of constituents that can act as satisfiers of the V2 constraint in a given language (cf. Holmberg 2020 for recent discussion of this point in Germanic). Overall, the talk will contribute to the growing consensus that there is considerable syntactic microvariation attested in Old Italo-Romance texts, which permits us to better understand the ‘shape’ of left-peripheral syntactic variation cross-linguistically.

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Thursday *3 december* 2020

Speaker: Silvia Terenghi (Utrecht University)

Title: Demonstrative systems in Portuguese-based creoles: Some markedness considerations

Time: 1-2pm (UK time)

*online*

Abstract: Demonstrative systems in Portuguese-based creoles typically retain the lexical forms attested in the original Portuguese demonstrative paradigms. However, they tend to result from a semantic reduction, whereby the ternary deictic opposition present in Portuguese (esteesseaquele) can be lost, in favour of a new binary opposition centred on the location of the speaker in the context.  

In this talk, I provide a contrastive description of the demonstrative systems attested in the Portuguese-based creoles reported in the APiCS (Michaelis et al.2013, Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Structures) and in their lexifiers. I focus in particular on the attested mismatch between the semantic uniformity of the resulting systems and their morphological variation.  

I then explore some possible explanations for the observed patterns of change and examine the role of markedness in accounting for the evolution of demonstrative systems. While the data presented here (on a par with other contact data and with diachronic data) seem to support a straightforward markedness-based approach, I take stock with the concept of markedness in morphosyntax and with its employment as explanans and suggest that rather, as things stand, markedness is only a descriptive device and its application beyond description an explanandum. I conclude by putting forward some initial thoughts that could provide at the same time a more robust definition and a principled explanation for markedness and that could account for demonstrative data considered in contact contexts and in diachrony alike.

 



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