Skip to main content

Rutgers @ LSA Annual Meeting 2021

Rutgers Linguistics was well-represented at this year’s LSA Annual Meeting.

Jiaxing Yu, Akane Ohtaka, Shiori Ikawa and Troy Messick presented posters at various general sessions. Mark Baker (who was also inducted as an LSA Fellow this year) and Deepak Alok had talks in a symposium titled “The features of allocutivity, honorifics and social relation”. Titles and abstracts of their presentations are below.

Congratulations to all the presenters!

  • Jiaxing Yu (First year): Lexical meaning in Mandarin classifiers
  • Classifier is a quasi-function word necessary between numerals and nouns to indicate the quantity of some entities. The previous literature has differing views on the role of classifiers. But common to all the previous approaches is analyzing classifiers as function words. In this paper, I argue that classifiers are not simply function words, but lexically meaningful, displaying nuanced behavior and patterns of modification. I establish through corpus work and semantic analysis that there are two primary semantic relations among the classifier constructions in Mandarin, taxonomic and modificational.

  • Akane Ohtaka (Fourth year): Attributive Subcomparatives in Japanese
  • This paper aims to explain the difference in grammaticality between Japanese attributive subcomparatives with a non-quantity adjective (NQA) and those with a quantity adjective (QA). If the NP constitutes an island, and that ellipsis of the NP ameliorates movement of degree operator out of it, the ungrammaticality of subcomparatives with an NQA can be accounted for in terms of the failure of island-ameliorating ellipsis; the NPs in the standard- and the associate clauses do not satisfy the identity condition. As for subcomparatives with a QA, I propose that movement of the QA occurs to a position above the NP.

  • Shiori Ikawa (Fifth year): Interpreting Agreement: Evidence from Japanese Object Honorifics
  • Agree is standardly considered to have no semantic effects (Chomsky, 2000, 2001 a.o.), even leading to the view that Agree is a PF operation (Bobaljik, 2008; Landau, 2016; Choi & Harley, 2019). This work claims that Agree can in fact affect interpretation, based on Japanese Object Honorifics (OH). I point out that OH denotes an honor-relationship between two DPs, while the choice of the relevant DPs shows intervention effects typical of agreement. I conclude that OH involves a head probing for two index features, which are then interpreted at LF as arguments of a semantic predicate “HONOR” on the head.

  • Troy Messick (Faculty): 3/4 agreement patterns beyond hybrid nouns
  • This paper reports the discovery of two novel 3/4 agreement patterns in English and Telugu and discusses the implications for theories of agreement and morphosyntactic features.

  • Deepak Alok (PhD 20) and Bill Haddican (CUNY): Cross-linguistic differences in embedded/root asymmetries in allocutive marking
  • Allocutive languages fall into one of two classes with respect to embedded/root asymmetries: those in which allocutive morphemes are restricted to root contexts (Japanese, Korean, some Basque dialects) and those permitting allocutive morphemes across embedded domains (Galician, Magahi other Basque dialects). This cross-linguistic difference correlates partially with optionality in agreement: in languages of the Korean/Japanese-type, allocutive marking is obligatory in sociolinguistic contexts for which it is specified, while in Magahi/Galician-type varieties it tends to be optional. We propose that this cross-linguistic difference reflects different merged positions for a silent Addressee DP triggering allocutive agreement. In Korean/Japanese-type languages, the head introducing DPAddr will be one restricted to root contexts encoding properties of the utterance (Portner et al. 2019). In Magahi/Galician type languages, this head will be a lower one, Fin, encoding speech-act coordinates of the local clause. Optionality in the latter class reflects additional pragmatic restrictions on DPAddr in FinP.

  • Alok (PhD 20) and Baker (Faculty): Person and Honorification: Features and Interactions in Magahi
  • Magahi (Indo-Aryan) shows three levels of honorification on pronouns and agreement morphemes: nonhonorific, honorific, and high honorific. We argue that these three levels are generated by two binary features, ±HON and ±HIGH. We show that these features are borne by individual NPs and pronouns, rather than residing at the complementizer level, as in Portner et al. (2019) (PP&Z). This treatment allows the features to occur on third person pronouns—and even trivially on first person—with different pronouns in the same clause bearing different values. Finally, we argue that the honorification features have a relational semantics (like PP&Z’s “status” feature), where the second argument of the feature is bound by the closest “Speaker” coordinate in the periphery of a finite CP. As a result, the honorificity level of third person pronouns “shifts” in the same environments where first and second person pronouns undergo indexical shift in Magahi.