Undergraduate Dissertation Linguistics

Dissertations

This dissertation explores the relationship between the parser and the grammar in error-driven retrieval by examining the mechanism underlying the illusory licensing of subject-verb agreement violations (‘agreement attraction’). Previous work motivates a two-stage model of agreement attraction in which the parser predicts the verb’s number and engages in retrieval of the agreement controller only when it detects a mismatch between the prediction and the bottom-up input (Wagers, Lau & Phillips, 2009; Lago, Shalom, Sigman, Lau & Phillips, 2015). It is the second stage of retrieval and feature-checking that is thought to be error-prone, resulting in agreement attraction. Here we investigate two ...

 

This dissertation focuses on when and how children learn about the meanings of the propositional attitude verbs "know" and "think". "Know" and "think" both express belief. But they differ in their veridicality: "think" is non-veridical and can report a false belief; but "know" can only report true beliefs because it is a veridical verb. Furthermore, the verbs differ in their factivity: uses of "x knows p", but not uses of "x thinks p", typically presuppose the truth of "p", because "know" is factive and "think" is not. How do children figure out these subtle differences between the verbs, given that ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with how elliptical sentences are generated. To be specific, I investigate when and in what module ellipsis occurs, and what is elided as a result of ellipsis. With regard to the first research question, I propose that XP ellipsis occurs as soon as all the featural requirements of the licensor of XP ellipsis are satisfied during the derivation, rather than in the other modules. An important consequence of this proposal is that the point of XP ellipsis can vary depending on the derivational point where all the featural requirements of the licensor are satisfied in narrow ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with experiencer arguments, and what they tell us about the grammar. There are two main types of experiencers I discuss: experiencers of psychological verbs and experiencers of raising constructions. I question the notion of ‘experiencers’ itself; and explore some possible accounts for the ‘psych-effects’. I argue that the ‘experiencer theta role’ is conceptually unnecessary and unsustained by syntactic evidence. ‘Experiencers’ can be reduced to different types of arguments. Taking Brazilian Portuguese as my main case study, I claim that languages may grammaticalize psychological predicates and their arguments in different ways. These verb classes exist in languages ...

 

Humans use their grammatical knowledge in more than one way. On one hand, they use it to understand what others say. On the other hand, they use it to say what they want to convey to others (or to themselves). In either case, they need to assemble the structure of sentences in a systematic fashion, in accordance with the grammar of their language. Despite the fact that the structures that comprehenders and speakers assemble are systematic in an identical fashion (i.e., obey the same grammatical constraints), the two ‘modes’ of assembling sentence structures might or might not be performed ...

 

This dissertation uses children’s acquisition of adjunct control as a case study to investigate grammatical and performance accounts of language acquisition. In previous research, children have consistently exhibited non-adultlike behavior for sentences with adjunct control. To explain children’s behavior, several different grammatical accounts have been proposed, but evidence for these accounts has been inconclusive. In this dissertation, I take two approaches to account for children’s errors.

First, I spell out the predictions of previous grammatical accounts, and test these predictions after accounting for some methodological concerns that might have influenced children’s behavior in previous studies. While ...

 

Attitude verbs (e.g., think, want, hope) report mental states. Learning the meanings of attitude verbs may be difficult for language learners for several reasons; including the abstractness of the concepts that they refer to, and the linguistic properties. In this dissertation, we investigate the learning process for these words, by looking at an asymmetry that has been observed in the acquisition trajectory: want, which refers to desires, has been claimed to be acquired before think, which refers to beliefs. We explore this asymmetry in attitude verb acquisition in two ways: by comparing interpretation of think and want, controlling for ...

 

Any kind of uninstructed learning, faced by the challenge that any finite experience is consistent with infinitely many hypotheses, must proceed under guidance. This dissertation investigates guided vocabulary acquisition with a focus on verb learning. In particular, it examines some proposed early expectations that the young language learner may hold as guidance in learning novel verbs, and investigates the nature of these expectations from different angles. Four lines of studies are reported, each discussing a different question. Study 1 focuses on the expectation that the grammatical category verb picks out the conceptual category event – the verb-event bias, and examines the ...

 

The purpose of this thesis is to construct a theory to derive how pied-piping of formal features of a moved element takes place, by which some syntactic phenomena related to φ-features can be accounted for. Ura (2001) proposes that pied-piping of formal-features of a moved element is constrained by an economy condition like relativized minimality. On the basis of Ura’s (2001) proposal, I propose that how far an element that undergoes movement can carry its formal features, especially focusing on φ-features in this thesis, is determined by two conditions, a locality condition on the generalized pied-piping and an anti-locality ...

 

Every difference between languages is a “choice point” for the syntactician, psycholinguist, and language learner. The syntactician must describe the differences in representations that the grammars of different languages can assign. The psycholinguist must describe how the comprehension mechanisms search the space of the representations permitted by a grammar to quickly and effortlessly understand sentences in real time. The language learner must determine which representations are permitted in her grammar on the basis of her primary linguistic evidence. These investigations are largely pursued independently, and on the basis of qualitatively different data. In this dissertation, I show that these investigations ...

 

Some words are harder to learn than others. For instance, action verbs like run and hit are learned earlier than propositional attitude verbs like think and want. One reason think and want might be learned later is that, whereas we can see and hear running and hitting, we can’t see or hear thinking and wanting. Children nevertheless learn these verbs, so a route other than the senses must exist. There is mounting evidence that this route involves, in large part, inferences based on the distribution of syntactic contexts a propositional attitude verb occurs in—a process known as syntactic ...

 

In order to understand the nature of a given linguistic phenomena in the adult grammar, language acquisition research explores how children’s competence with respect to such a phenomena develops. However, diagnosing competence can be challenging because it is not directly observable. Researchers only have access to performance, which is mediated by additional factors and is not a direct reflection of competence. In this dissertation, I explore a case study of children’s early syntactic knowledge. My in-depth analysis of Principle C at 30 months provides novel insights into diagnostics for underlying competence by utilizing two distinct methods of analysis ...

 

This dissertation explores the role of morphological and syntactic variation in sentence comprehension across languages. While most previous research has focused on how cross-linguistic differences affect the control structure of the language architecture (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005) here we adopt an explicit model of memory, content-addressable memory (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005; McElree, 2006) and examine how cross-linguistic variation affects the nature of the representations and processes that speakers deploy during comprehension. With this goal, we focus on two kinds of grammatical dependencies that involve an interaction between language and memory: subject-verb agreement and referential pronouns. In the first part of this dissertation ...

 

In this dissertation I present a model that captures categorical effects in both first language (L1) and second language (L2) speech perception. In L1 perception, categorical effects range between extremely strong for consonants to nearly continuous perception of vowels. I treat the problem of speech perception as a statistical inference problem and by quantifying categoricity I obtain a unified model of both strong and weak categorical effects. In this optimal inference mechanism, the listener uses their knowledge of categories and the acoustics of the signal to infer the intended productions of the speaker. The model splits up speech variability into ...

 

Determining the semantic content of sentences, and uncovering regularities between linguistic form and meaning, requires attending to both morphological and syntactic properties of a language with an eye to the notional categories that the various pieces of form express. In this dissertation, I investigate the morphosyntactic devices that English speakers (and speakers of other languages) can use to talk about comparisons between things: comparative sentences with, in English, more... than, as... as, too, enough, and others. I argue that a core component of all of these constructions is a unitary element expressing the concept of measurement.

The theory that I ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with the cognitive mechanisms that are used to encode and navigate linguistic structure. Successful language understanding requires mechanisms for efficiently encoding and navigating linguistic structure in memory. The timing and accuracy of linguistic dependency formation provides valuable insights into the cognitive basis of these mechanisms. Recent research on linguistic dependency formation has revealed a profile of selective fallibility: some linguistic dependencies are rapidly and accurately implemented, but others are not, giving rise to “linguistic illusions”. This profile is not expected under current models of grammar or language processing. The broad consensus, however, is that the profile ...

 

This thesis attempts to assimilate head movement as far as possible to phrasal movement. In particular, I argue that if we assume that the computational system of natural languages does not discriminate head movement from phrasal movement in terms of locality and the possible mode of operation, a distributional difference between these two types of movement can be explained by the interaction between a locality constraint and an anti-locality constraint to which syntactic movement operations are subject, and crosslinguistic variations in the possibility of what I will call and can be reduced to parameters that are ...

 

Three types of nominal anaphors are investigated: (i) pronouns, (ii) partitive ellipsis and (iii) the contrastive anaphor 'one'. I argue that in each case, the representational basis for anaphora is the same, a semantic variable ranging over singular or plural entities, rather than syntactic as previous approaches have suggested. In the case of pronouns, I argue against syntactic D-type approaches (Elbourne 2005) and semantic D-type approaches (Cooper 1979). Instead, I present arguments in favor of the set variable representation assumed under Nouwen (2003)’s approach. Following this, I consider a number of cases usually taken to involve the elision of ...

 

This dissertation deals with the theory of the phonetic component of grammar in a formal probabilistic inference framework: (1) it has been recognized since the beginning of generative phonology that some language-specific phonetic implementation is actually context-dependent, and thus it can be said that there are gradient “phonetic processes” in grammar in addition to categorical “phonological processes.” However, no explicit theory has been developed to characterize these processes. Meanwhile, (2) it is understood that language acquisition and perception are both really informed guesswork: the result of both types of inference can be reasonably thought to be a less-than-perfect committment, with ...

 

The goal of language comprehension for humans is not just to decode the semantic content of sentences, but rather to grasp what speakers intend to communicate. To infer speaker meaning, listeners must at minimum assess whether and how the literal meaning of an utterance addresses a question under discussion in the conversation. In cases of implicature, where the speaker intends to communicate more than just the literal meaning, listeners must access additional relevant information in order to understand the intended contribution of the utterance. I argue that the primary challenge for inferring speaker meaning is in identifying and accessing this ...

 

Adult second language (L2) learners often experience di⇤culty producing and perceiving non-native phonological contrasts. Even highly proficient bilinguals, who have been exposed to an L2 for long periods of time, struggle with difficult contrasts, such as /r/-/l/ for Japanese learners of English. To account for the relative ease or diffculty with which L2 learners perceive and acquire non-native contrasts, theories of (L2) speech perception often appeal to notions of similarity. But how is similarity best determined?

In this dissertation I explored the predictions of two theoretical approaches to similarity comparison in the second language, and asked: [1] How ...

 

In this dissertation I explore the nature of interpretive dependencies in human language. In particular I investigate the limits of syntactically mediated interpretive dependencies as well as non-syntactic ones. Broadly speaking I investigate the limits of grammatical dependencies and note that current theory cannot possibly handle certain dependencies. That certain dependencies evade grammatical explanation requires a rethinking of the representations of those dependencies. The results of this investigation concern the primacy and the purview of the syntax component of the grammar. In short, the purview of syntactic relations is limited to c-command and if a c-command relation holds between two ...

 

This thesis explores how predictions about upcoming language inputs are computed during real-time language comprehension. Previous research has demonstrated humans’ ability to use rich contextual information to compute linguistic prediction during real-time language comprehension, and it has been widely assumed that contextual information can impact linguistic prediction as soon as it arises in the input. This thesis questions this key assumption and explores how linguistic predictions develop in real- time. I provide event-related potential (ERP) and reading eye-movement (EM) evidence from studies in Mandarin Chinese and English that even prominent and unambiguous information about preverbal arguments’ structural roles cannot immediately ...

 

This thesis examines reflexive pronouns, such as Icelandic sig (Cf. Thráinsson 2007), which may be bound from outside of an infinitive clause (which I call MD “medium distance” binding) in addition to being bound locally. I propose that such reflexives are linked to their antecedents via sisterhood followed by movement: the reflexive and antecedent are first merged together as sisters, and the antecedent subsequently moves to receive its first theta-role, as schematized below:

  1. He ordered Harold to shave he+sig

This links the properties of bound simplex reflexives to the properties of movement. I argue that reflexives such as sig ...

 

Comparative correlatives, like the longer you stay out in the rain, the colder you’ll get, are prolific in the world’s languages (i.e., there is no evidence of a language that lacks comparative correlatives). Despite this observation, the data do not present a readily apparent syntax. What is the relationship between the two clauses? What is the main verb? What is English’s the which obligatorily appears at the start of each clause?

This thesis reviews prior analyses of comparative correlatives, both syntactic and semantic (Fillmore, 1987; McCawley, 1988; McCawley, 1998; Beck, 1997; Culicover & Jackendoff, 1999; Borsley, 2003 ...

 

This dissertation presents an approach for a productive way forward in the study of language acquisition, sealing the rift between claims of an innate linguistic hypothesis space and powerful domain general statistical inference. This approach breaks language acquisition into its component parts, distinguishing the input in the environment from the intake encoded by the learner, and looking at how a statistical inference mechanism, coupled with a well de ned linguistic hypothesis space could lead a learn to infer the native grammar of their native language. This work draws on experimental work, corpus analyses and computational models of Tsez, Norwegian and ...

 

This dissertation attempts to unify two reductionist hypotheses: that there is no relational difference between specifiers and complements, and that verbs do not have thematic arguments. I argue that these two hypotheses actually bear on each other and that we get a better theory if we pursue both of them.

The thesis is centered around the following hypothesis: Each application of Spell-Out corresponds to a conjunct at logical form. In order to create such a system, it is necessary to provide a syntax that is designed such that each Spell-Out domain is mapped into a conjunct. This is done by ...

 

This thesis is concerned with the nature of memory access during the construction of long-distance dependencies in online sentence comprehension. In recent years, an intense focus on the computational challenges posed by long-distance dependencies has proven to be illuminating with respect to the characteristics of the architecture of the human sentence processor, suggesting a tight link between general memory access procedures and sentence processing routines (Lewis & Vasishth 2005; Lewis, Vasishth, & Van Dyke 2006; Wagers, Lau & Phillips 2009). The present thesis builds upon this line of research, and its primary aim is to motivate and defend the hypothesis that the parser ...

 

The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the nature of intervention effects seen in various constructions like Wh-scope marking, raising and passivization. In particular, this dissertation argues in favor of a movement account for all these cases and supports the idea that (syntactic) movement is inevitable and sufficient enough to provide a unified account of various structural relations (Hornstein, 2009). It further argues that movement always happens in narrow syntax, even when it isn’t visible. For some of these invisible cases, this dissertation suggests head movement as an alternative to LF movement and Agree.

The second aim of ...

 

This thesis investigates the implications of binding phenomena for the development of a reductionist theory of grammatical dependencies. The starting point isthe analysis of binding and control in Hornstein (2001, 2009). A number of revisions are made to this framework in order to develop a simpler and empirically more successful account of binding phenomena.

The major development is the rejection of economy-based accounts of Condition B effects. It is argued that Condition B effects derive directly from an anti-locality constraint on A-movement. Competition between different dependencytypes is crucial to the analysis, but is formulated in terms of a heavily revisedversion ...

 

The purpose of this dissertation is to reconsider reflexives in Japanese through thefollowing three steps: (a) separation of genuine reflexive elements from elements that areconfounded as reflexives, (b) classification of reflexive anaphors into subtypes based ontheir semantic difference, and (c) classification of predicates that occur with anaphors.Many researchers have worked on the reflexive element zibun ‘self,’ but Japanesehas other reflexive elements as well. These elements including zibun have not onlythe reflexive anaphor usage but also other ones. All the instances are, however, oftenlumped together under the category ‘reflexives.’ I distinguish genuine reflexive anaphorsin Japanese from elements that are confounded ...

 

This dissertation explores the hypothesis that language processing proceeds in “windows” that correspond to representational units, where sensory signals are integrated according to time-scales that correspond to the rate of the input. To investigate universal mechanisms, a comparison of signed and spoken languages is necessary. Underlying the seemingly effortless process of language comprehension is the perceiver’s knowledge about the rate at which linguistic form and meaning unfold in time and the ability to adapt to variations in the input.

The vast body of work in this area has focused on speech perception, where the goal is to determine how ...

 

The precise contribution and mechanism of sensory feedback (particularly auditory feedback) in successful speech production is unclear. Some models of speech production, such as DIVA, assert that speech production is based on attempting to produce auditory (and/or somatosensory targets; e.g. Guenther et al. 2006), and thus assign a central role to sensory feedback for successful speech motor control. These models make explicit predictions about the neural basis of speech production and the integration of auditory and somatosensory feedback and predict predict basal ganglia involvement in speech motor control. In order to test the implications of models depending on ...

 

This study investigates properties of adjunct control with a particular focus on Turkish providing an analysis for different types of adjunct control structures such as temporal adjunct clauses and purpose clauses, which have been understudied in Turkish linguistics. In analyzing adjunct control structures, I use Agree-based Theory of Control (ATC) (Landau 2000 and 2004) as a theoretical basis. I introduce a new interarboreal operation that I call Interarboreal Agree which draws upon the intuitions of Nunes (1995) that syntactic relations can be established between two unconnected trees. This analysis refines ATC in that ATC in its current form fails to ...

 

That we perceive our environment as a unified scene rather than individual streams ofauditory, visual, and other sensory information has recently provided motivation tomove past the long-held tradition of studying these systems separately. Although theyare each unique in their transduction organs, neural pathways, and cortical primaryareas, the senses are ultimately merged in a meaningful way which allows us tonavigate the multisensory world. Investigating how the senses are merged has becomean increasingly wide field of research in recent decades, with the introduction andincreased availability of neuroimaging techniques. Areas of study range frommultisensory object perception to cross-modal attention, multisensory interactions,and integration ...

 

Systems that process natural language must cope with and resolve ambiguity. In this dissertation, a model of language processing is advocated in which multiple inputs and multiple analyses of inputs are considered concurrently and a single analysis is only a last resort. Compared to conventional models, this approach can be understood as replacing single-element inputs and outputs with weighted sets of inputs and outputs. Although processing components must deal with sets (rather than individual elements), constraints are imposed on the elements of these sets, and the representations from existing models may be reused. However, to deal efficiently with large (or ...

 

This dissertation revisits subject island effects (Ross 1967, Chomsky 1973) cross-linguistically. Controlled acceptability judgment studies in German, English, Japanese and Serbian suggest that extraction out of specifiers is consistently degraded compared to extraction out of complements, indicating that the Condition on Extraction domains (CED, Huang 1982) is still empirically viable, contrary to recent claims (Stepanov 2007). As a consequence, recent treatments of the CED in terms of Multiple Spell-Out (Uriagereka 1999) are still tenable. First, a series of NP-subextraction experiments in German using 'was für'-split is discussed. The results indicate that subject island effects cannot be reduced to freezing ...

 

This dissertation investigates adults and children's sentence processing mechanisms, with a special focus on how multiple levels of linguistic representation are incrementally computed in real time, and how this process affects the parser's ability to later revise its early commitments. Using cross-methodological and cross-linguistic investigations of long-distance dependency processing, this dissertation demonstrates how paying explicit attention to the procedures by which linguistic representations are computed is vital to understanding both adults' real time linguistic computation and children's reanalysis mechanisms. The first part of the dissertation uses time course evidence from self-paced reading and eye tracking studies (reading ...

 

In this thesis I explore the syntactic and semantic properties of movement and adjunction in natural language, and suggest that these two phenomena are related in a novel way. In a precise sense, the basic pieces of grammatical machinery that give rise to movement, also give rise to adjunction. In the system I propose, there is no atomic movement operation and no atomic adjunction operation; the terms "movement" and "adjunction" serve only as convenient labels for certain combinations of other, primitive operations. As a result the system makes non-trivial predictions about how movement and adjunction should interact, since we do ...

 

The goal of this dissertation is to show that even at the earliest (non-invasive) recordable stages of auditory cortical processing, we find evidence that cortex is calculating abstract representations from the acoustic signal. Looking across two distinct domains (inferential pitch perception and vowel normalization), I present evidence demonstrating that the M100, an automatic evoked neuromagnetic component that localizes to primary auditory cortex is sensitive to abstract computations. The M100 typically responds to physical properties of the stimulus in auditory and speech perception and integrates only over the first 25 to 40 ms of stimulus onset, providing a reliable dependent measure ...

 

This dissertation examines the elliptical structures of (a) sluicing (John called someone, but I don't know who!), (b) fragment answers (A: Who did John call?, B: Mary!), (c) gapping (John is eating ice-cream, and Mary apple pie!), and (d) Right Node Raising (John cooked and Mary ate the apple pie!) in Turkish and gives a PF-deletion-based analysis of all these elliptical structures. As to sluicing and fragment answers, evidence in support of PF-deletion comes from P-(non-)stranding and Case Matching, respectively. Further, these elliptical structures are island-insensitive in Turkish. As to gapping, this study gives a movement + deletion ...

 

This dissertation focuses on effective combination of data-driven natural language processing (NLP) approaches with linguistic knowledge sources that are based on manual text annotation or word grouping according to semantic commonalities. I gainfully apply fine-grained linguistic soft constraints -- of syntactic or semantic nature -- on statistical NLP models, evaluated in end-to-end state-of-the-art statistical machine translation (SMT) systems. The introduction of semantic soft constraints involves intrinsic evaluation on word-pair similarity ranking tasks, extension from words to phrases, application in a novel distributional paraphrase generation technique, and an introduction of a generalized framework of which these soft semantic and syntactic constraints can be ...

 

The notion that children use statistical distributions present in the input to acquire various aspects of linguistic knowledge has received considerable recent attention. But the roles of learner's initial state have been largely ignored in those studies. What remains unclear is the nature of learner's contribution. At least two possibilities exist. One is that all that learners do is to collect and compile accurately predictive statistics from the data, and they do not have antecedently specified set of possible structures (Elman, et al. 1996; Tomasello 2000). On this view, outcome of the learning is solely based on the ...

 

This dissertation explores the hypothesis that predictive processing—the access and construction of internal representations in advance of the external input that supports them—plays a central role in language comprehension. Linguistic input is frequently noisy, variable, and rapid, but it is also subject to numerous constraints. Predictive processing could be a particularly useful approach in language comprehension, as predictions based on the constraints imposed by the prior context could allow computation to be speeded and noisy input to be disambiguated. Decades of previous research have demonstrated that the broader sentence context has an effect on how new input is ...

 

Since Ross (1967), it has been observed that there are configurations from which otherwise unbounded movement operations cannot occur, and they are called islands. Ellipsis and resumption are known to have a peculiar property to 'repair' island violations. Each chapter of this thesis discusses a case of ellipsis/resumption to examine in what cases movement out of an island becomes licit by those strategies. Chapter 2 discusses the elliptical construction called sluicing, and argues for the PF-deletion analysis of sluicing (Merchant 2001, originated from Ross 1969). I will show that ECP violations made by adjunct sluicing cannot be repaired by ...

 

One of the main challenges in the study of cognition is how to connect brain activity to cognitive processes. In the domain of language, this requires coordination between two different lines of research: theoretical models of linguistic knowledge and language processing on the one side and brain sciences on the other. The work reported in this dissertation attempts to link these two lines of research by focusing on one particular aspect of linguistic processing, namely lexical access. The rationale for this focus is that access to the lexicon is a mandatory step in any theory of linguistic computation, and therefore ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with whether the sentence processor can compute plausible relations among a cluster of neighboring open class words without taking into account the relationships between these words as dictated by the structure of the sentence. It has been widely assumed that compositional semantics is built on top of syntactic structures (Heim & Kratzer, 1998; Pollard & Sag, 1994). This view has been challenged by recent electrophysiological findings (Kim and Osterhout, 2005; Kuperberg, 2007; van Herten et al., 2005, 2006) that appear to show that semantic composition can proceed independently of syntactic structure. This dissertation investigates whether the evidence for ...

 

This dissertation discusses how pragmatic factors contribute to children's behavior in interpreting scopally ambiguous forms. In particular, we look at children's interpretation of negated sentences involving disjunction in the object (NegDisjunction). Languages like English and Chinese allow scope interaction between negation and disjunction of this kind of strings and thus two corresponding interpretations: the narrow scope disjunction interpretation (the NSD, meaning "neither"), thus the wide scope disjunction interpretation (the WSD, meaning "not this or not that"); but languages like Japanese only allow the WSD. Previous studies found out that children of different languages accessed the NSD instead of ...

 

This dissertation is concerned with the problem of how structured linguistic representations interact with the architecture of human memory. Much recent work has attempted to unify real-time linguistic memory with a general content-addressable architecture (Lewis & Vasishth, 2005; McElree, 2006). Because grammatical principles and constraints are strongly relational in nature, and linguistic representation hierarchical, this kind of architecture is not well suited to restricting the search of memory to grammatically-licensed constituents alone. This dissertation investigates under what conditions real-time language comprehension is grammatically accurate. Two kinds of grammatical dependencies were examined in reading time and speeded grammaticality experiments: subject-verb agreement licensing ...

 

This dissertation investigates the contributions of the parser and extra-linguistic information in the selection of a final interpretation of scopally ambiguous strings, integrating data from both children and adults into our understanding of language processing. Previous research has found an advantage for surface scope interpretations in adult sentence processing (Tunstall,1998 & Anderson,2003) and in children's interpretive preferences (Musolino and Lidz, 2006). In light of these findings, we investigate two central questions. One, what is the source of the advantage for surface scope interpretations in adults? Two, what factors contribute to children's ultimate adherence to surface scope interpretations ...

 

The focus of this dissertation is syntactic movement and its relationship to surface semantics, morphology, and licensing relations in syntax, with an emphasis on Spanish and English. Chapter 2 argues that Herburger's (2000) Neo-Davidsonian approach to the semantics of focus, as syntactically implemented by Uriagereka (2005), allows for a unified treatment of new information focus and contrastive focus (focus movement to the left periphery and in situ focus) in Spanish. The diverse positions that the focused element can take in the sentence are claimed to be determined by contextual anchoring mechanisms of Raposo and Uriagereka (1995). This entails a ...

 

Outstanding Undergraduate Dissertation in Linguistics

From 2017, the LAGB proposes to award three prizes for outstanding dissertations or long-form essays in any subfield(s) of linguistics written by undergraduates. Each prize consists of a £100 cash award and one year's free membership of the LAGB.

In its first year, the prize attracted an impressively high standard of innovative and original research by undergraduates across the country. We are delighted to announce the inaugural winners of the Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Dissertation in Linguistics are, in alphabetical order:

Sarah Asinari (Queen Mary University of London) for Case Syncretism in Russian Numeral Constructions

Charlotte Liu (University College London) for It’s all Cantonese to me: Designing a non-word repetition set for Cantonese

Huinan Zeng (University of Sheffield) for The underspecification of the [CORONAL] feature: A study on the perception of word-medial mispronunciation in Mandarin

The committee would also like to congratulate the following students on the long list of submissions for their excellent work:

Charlotte Bush (Lancaster University): A corpus investigation into how stance adverbs contribute to the creation of YA authors' personae on Twitter
Georgia-Ann Carter (University of Kent): The influence of working memory capacity on ambiguity resolution: speaker-specific context-variability in absolute gradable adjectives
Samuel Crowe (University of York): An investigation into the use of phonetic stereotypes in the creation of lesbian and gay characters in American cartoons
Jonne Kramer (University of Westminster): If you ask Alice: a study on spoken Dutch for the purpose of humanoid conversational language
Elliott Land (University of Huddersfield): Speaker identification using laughter in a close social network
Marilena Onisiforou (University of Manchester): Use of code-switching in inter-generational and intra-generational communication in Greek (Cypriot Dialect) and English
Oliver Sayeed (University of Cambridge): Osthoff's Law in Latin


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