University of Siena CISCL Working Papers #1

STiL - Studies in Linguistics (CISCL WP, Vol.1)

Vincenzo Moscati, 2007

for $24.95 x

The Alison's cat sleep in the kitchen: On the acquisition of English 's Genitive Constructions by native speakers of Italian

ELISA DI DOMENICO, University of Siena; ELISA BENNATI, University of Siena

This work deals with the acquisition of L2 English 's Genitive Constructions with Bare Proper Name possessors by native speakers of Italian. We investigated original L2 English data collected through a written elicitation test from a group of 94 Italian teen-agers learning L2 English in a formal environment. Results indicate that both Universal Grammar and transfer from the L1 are implied in the acquisition of these structures. In Section 1 we compare Italian and English Possessive Constructions in the light of a model of possessive DPs; in Section 2 we present the experimental design and the results, which will be discussed in Section 3.

On Labeling: Principle C and Head Movement

CARLO CECCHETTO, University of Milan-Bicocca; CATERINA DONATI, University of Urbino

In this paper, we critically re-examine the two algorithms that govern phrase structure building according to Chomsky (2005). We accept the algorithm that dictates that a lexical item transmits its label when it is merged with another object (the Head Algorithm) but reject the second algorithm proposed by Chomsky and replace it with the Probing Algorithm, which states that the probe of any kind of Merge is the label. In addition to capturing core cases of phrase structure building, these two algorithms shed light on Principle C effects and the syntax of wh constructions, which we analyze as cases of conflict between them. In these two configurations a lexical item (which should become the label in compliance with the Head Algorithm) is merged with a syntactic object that, being the probe of the operation, should become the label in compliance with the Probing Algorithm. In one case, this conflict produces two alternative outputs (a question or a free relative) that are both acceptable. In Principle C configurations, one of the resulting output (the one determined by the Head Algorithm) produces an object that is not interpretable. This way, Principle C effects are reduced to cases of mislabeling, with no need to postulate a specific condition to rule them out.

An introduction to Phase-based Minimalist Grammars: why move is Top-Down from Left-to-Right

CRISTIANO CHESI CISCL, University of Siena

This paper is an introduction to a grammatical formalism (Phase-based Minimalist Grammar, elaboration of Stabler's 1997 Minimalist Grammar) that includes a revised version of the standard minimalist structure building operations merge, move and the notion of derivation by phase (Chomsky 1999-2005). The main difference with respect to the standard theory is that these devices strictly operate Top- Down and from Left-to-Right. In these pages I will argue that long distance dependencies, such as successive cyclic A'-movement, are better understood within this unconventional (at least within the Minimalist Program) phase-based directional perspective1.

On Syntactic Computation in Aphasia: a Study on Agreement and Movement in a non-fluent Aphasic Speaker

MARIA GARRAFFA, University of Siena

To investigate the linguistic competence of a non-fluent aphasic speaker we focus on certain properties of the patient's deficit in the functional lexicon, and ascribe occurrences of non standard use to defective syntactic computation. By manipulating the position of constituents, we tested agreement in sentences with post-verbal subjects and the patient's ability to detect errors induced by different elements in attraction configurations. The results show clear asymmetries in grammaticality judgments of the different agreement conditions. A deficit in the computation of agreement in sentences with postverbal subjects was reported, indication of the fragile nature of postverbal subject agreement. In the experiment on attraction we found a clear impairment with attraction induced by linear intervention of a prepositional modifier. In order to evaluate our subject's performance we compare the results from this single case study with data from a range of experiments involving other languages and populations. By investigating the finer properties of functional elements we hope to show the extent to which certain characteristics of aphasic speech may be attributed to a possible reduction in processing abilities.

Expletives, Datives, and the Tension between Morphology and Syntax

RICHARD S. KAYNE, New York University

[no abstract available]

Covert Movement of Negation: raising over modality

VINCENZO MOSCATI, University of Siena

This paper will explore the relation between the phonetical realization of sentential negation and its LF-mapping. Languages that share many common features often differ in the position where the negative marker surfaces but it is unclear if those variations have an effect on the logic representation of the sentence. In order to try to answer to this question, I will consider some empirical facts related to inverse scope interpretations of negation above modality, showing that when the possibility of reconstructing the modal operator is excluded, as in double-modals constructions, the only option available to build the appropriate LF representation is to covert-move negation.

On Some Properties of Criterial Freezing

LUIGI RIZZI, University of Siena

[no abstract available]

English as a Mixed V2 Grammar: Synchronic Word Order Inconsistencies from the Perspective of First Language Acquisition

MARIT WESTERGAARD, University of Troms

This paper discusses some word order inconsistencies in present-day English and argues that these may be explained by natural processes in first language acquisition. English is usually assumed to have lost its verb-second (V2) properties in the Middle English period, but the paper argues that English should be considered a mixed V2 grammar, as subject-auxiliary inversion is still a syntactic requirement in all questions and a type of inversion also marginally appears in certain declaratives (with informationally light verbs). Discussing word order variation across Germanic V2 languages as well as some acquisition data, the paper develops an approach to language acquisition and change which is based on micro-cues in the input. This means that there are many types of V2 grammars, which distinguish between different clause types, patterns of information structure, and natural classes of categories. In this model, historical gradualism is seen as successive changes affecting one micro-cue at a time, and the mixed V2 property of English is considered to represent no exceptional case, simply a somewhat more restricted V2 grammar than that of the other Germanic languages.