Megan Gotowski (5th Year) recently published an article titled ‘Quoi sluices in French‘ in Glossa (Vol. 7) (abstract below). This is the fourth journal article that Meg has published while here at Rutgers!
Prof. Viviane Déprez in joint work with J.D. Yeaton (former Rutgers Linguistics undergrad) also published an article in the same journal and volume. The article is titled ‘On the prosody of French ambiguous multiple negative sentences.‘(abstract below)
Congratulations to both Meg and Prof. Déprez!
Abstract : Sluicing has traditionally been analyzed as an operation involving wh-movement and deletion (Merchant 2001). French is a language that has both fronted and wh-in situ strategies; on the surface, however, it seems that French sluices do not involve (overt) movement, in spite of this being an available option. For nearly all wh-words, the in situ and moved forms are the same; the notable exception is que/quoi ‘what’— que is found in fronted wh-questions alone, while quoi is found in situ. In sluicing, only quoi surfaces, suggesting that French may be a challenge for the movement-and-deletion approach (Dagnac 2019).
By formalizing an analysis within a late insertion approach to the syntax-morphology interface, I argue that not only do sluices in French involve full structure, but that these involve movement as well. I assume that the wh-word is initially represented in the syntactic derivation as an abstract feature bundle. The morphological form is determined in the mapping of syntax to morphology by locality-dependent Vocabulary Insertion (VI) rules that are sensitive to C. These rules apply only after ellipsis occurs. Additionally, following Thoms (2010), I argue that C is targeted in sluicing, and as a result sluicing destroys the context that would trigger que. In this way, French sluicing provides support for the idea that ellipsis is able to bleed morphological operations (Saab & Lipták 2016; among others). The benefit of this analysis is that it is able to capture sluicing in French, while simultaneously explaining the behavior of quoi more generally.
Abstract: While it has long been assumed that prosody can help resolve syntactic and semantic ambiguities, empirical evidence has shown that the mapping between prosody and meaning is complex (Hirschberg & Avesani 2000; Jackendoff 1972). This paper investigates the prosody of ambiguous French sentences with multiple potentially negative terms that allow two semantically very distinct interpretations—a single negation reading involving negative concord (NC), and a double negative reading (DN) with a positive meaning reflecting a strictly compositional interpretation— with the goal to further research on the role of prosody in ambiguities by examining whether intonation can be recruited by speakers to signal distinct interpretations of these sentences to hearers. Twenty native speakers produced transitive sentences with potentially negative terms embedded in contexts designed to elicit single-negation or double-negation readings. Analysis regarding the F0 and the duration of the utterances revealed distinct prosodic profiles for the two readings, confirming previous evidence that speakers can produce characteristic acoustic cues to signal intended distinctive meanings (Kraljic & Brennan 2005; Syrett, Simon & Nisula 2014). Our results reveal that the NC readings feature a focused subject and a post-focally more compressed object, in contrast to the DN readings where both the subject and the object were independently focused. They do not relate DN to contradiction but link negative meaning with focus on French negative concord items (NCI). The paper discusses broad implications of these findings for theoretical approaches to NC and outlines further questions for the syntax-prosody interface of these constructions.