The Linguistics Research Center supports and facilitates research on the phonology, phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and psycholinguistics of languages, particularly those that differ significantly from English in structure. It publishes working papers, Festschrifts, conference proceedings, and other collections of original research; sponsors research colloquia; and hosts longer visits to the campus by international scholars. Founded in 1981, the center is housed in Stevenson College and is fully integrated into the Department of Linguistics.
Twenty years ago, I began a collaboration with Alan Prince that has dominated the course of my research ever since. Alan sent me a list of comments on a paper by James McClelland and David Rumelhart. Not only had Alan identified some important flaws in their model, but pinpointed the rationale for the mechanisms that linguists and cognitive scientists had always taken for granted and that McClelland and Rumelhart were challenging -- the armamentarium of lexical entries, structured representations, grammatical categories, symbol-manipulating rules, and modular organization that defined the symbol-manipulation approach to language and cognition. By pointing out the work that each of these assumptions did in explaining aspects of a single construction of language -- the English past tense -- Alan outlined a research program that could test the foundational assumptions of the dominant paradigm in cognitive science. My graduate advisor Roger Brown once decried the lack of progress in much of psychology owing to the phenomenon in which "a large quantity of frequently conflicting theory and data can become cognitively ugly and so repellent as to be swiftly deserted, its issues unresolved." I like to think that the past-tense debate, now in its third decade, is a more hopeful case, despite the impression in some observers that it has reached a stalemate. In this paper I summarize my view of the current state of the art.
My goal is to argue the merits of a type of work that is somewhat rare in linguistics, and to illustrate this kind of work in three domains: phonological inventories and conjunctive constraint interaction, non-participating segments in vowel harmony, and the general nature of phonological categories like 'possible word of language L'.
My goal in this paper is to demonstrate how the basic logic of constraint ranking in Optimality Theory (OT; Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004) directly predicts the disjunctive application of processes in an 'elsewhere' relationship without the need for a separate principle like the Elsewhere Condition (the EC; Anderson 1969, 1974, Kiparsky 1973) and its attendant problems of formulation in the theory of ordered string-rewriting rules (SPE; Chomsky & Halle 1968). The various details of the empirically correct ormulation of the EC (Halle 1995, Halle & Idsardi 1997) that must be independently stipulated in SPE all fall out as a necessary consequence of constraint ranking logic in OT.
With an analysis of the inflectional properties of Luiseno words, this paper builds on the examples offered in Aronoff 1994 of 'morphology by itself', of morphological generalizations not plausibly analyzed as anything other than morphology. All Luiseno words share four attributes---three of which are notional; the fourth serves to make the word accessible to the syntax. The value for the latter can be independent of the former, but it need not be. This interdependence is a purely morphological phenomenon.
This article examines suppletion and feature-conditioned allomorphy in Distributed Morphology. It discusses some empirical commonalities among these kinds of allomorphy, and then examines how they could be accounted for in DM. It then moves on to a particular case of irregularity, the Japanese verbal honorific. Some of these honorifics are shown to fit the criteria for suppletion and feature-conditioned allomorphy. However, it is then shown that the common notion of the cycle within DM cannot treat these honorifics as cases of allomorphy, suggesting that the phonological cycle must be larger than the version argued for in Embick 2010.
This paper proposes a unified model of the morphosyntax and morphophonology of the Modern Standard Arabic verbal system which attempts to preserve the empirical and analytical observations from recent Optimality-Theoretic approaches to templates in Semitic (Ussishkin 1999, 2000, 2005) as well as the observations from Distributed Morphology concerning argument structure and morphemic composition (Arad 2003, 2005). In doing so, a clausal syntax for Arabic is proposed which does not crucially rely on an Agr(eement) Projection as a landing site for subject movement. This is done using arguments from VP-adverb placement, negative clitic placement, and word order in perfective periphrastic verbal constructions in order to motivate the syntactic structure. This structure is then shown to pose a problem for modern theories of morphological linearization (Pak 2008; Embick 2010). Finally, the linearization problem is resolved by appealing to prosody as the mechanism for linearization, following recent proposals in morphophonology (Kramer 2007, Tucker 2011b). This move is motivated by data from Arabic Hollow Verbs which confirm the predictions the model makes with respect to allomorphic sensitivity of morphemes to each other over nonconcatenative (and therefore nonadjacent) distances. Finally, the implications of these findings for morphological and syntactic theory are discussed.
This volume is a collection of 19 essays on linguistics honoring Judith Aissen. It includes papers on general and theoretical linguistics, syntax, optimality theory and Mayan languages.