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Upcoming talk at TMP, Moscow

I’m going to give a talk “Modeling Topic/Focus: Evidence from Russian eventive nominalizations” at the 8th installment of Typology of Morphosyntactic Parameters conference, which will be held in Moscow, Russia on 22-24 October 2018. The conference is co-organized by the Institute of Linguistics of Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushkin State Institute of Russian Language and Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Looking forward to visiting Moscow!

 

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Classes at NYI are underway!

The first week of NYI classes is over, and with it, my part in the “3 puzzles in syntax and semantics” is done. I talked about eventive nominalizations in Russian (like: разрушение города врагом ‘the enemy’s destruction of the city’). I’m now passing the baton to Dan Altshuler and then to Omer Preminger.

Now I will be teaching just one class, “Languages of the World: An Introduction to Linguistic Typology”. I have 35 students from 10 countries in that class. It’s hectic but fun!

Also, on Thursday I will be giving a general lecture at NYI, “How to reconstruct languages of the past… and what for?” — I’m looking forward to that.

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NYI in St. Pete this summer!

I’ll be back to St. Petersburg this summer to teach at the 16th installment of NYI (New York Institute), an advanced study program organized every July at St. Petersburg State University.

I’ll be offering a course on “Languages of the World: Introduction to Linguistic Typology”. Information about the course soon to be posted here, but below is a preview:

This course is available to all students. No background required. Recommended for students interested in cross-linguistic variation and typology.

This course is an introduction to language variation and typology. The focus is on the generative approach to typology but other approaches will be considered as well. Topics covered include: sounds and sound systems; morphology across languages; grammatical categories; simple sentence structure; word order. In addition to describing observable patterns of cross-linguistic variation, we will also discuss theories that attempt to relate this variation to external factors such as physical geography, social organization, or contacts between linguistic groups.

Other courses include introductory courses in phonology, syntax and semantics, as well as advanced courses on long-distance dependencies, musical cognition and “How Minority Languages Change Linguistic Theory” — I’d love to sit in on so many of them!

For a full listing of courses and to sign up for the program, click here.

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Guests talks in St. Petersburg, Russia!

I’m excited to deliver two talks in my hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia this month!

  1. “How to reconstruct languages of the past… and why bother?” (in Russian) at the Humanities Faculty of the State Aerospace Instrumentation University. Details here. If you’d like to attend, please contact me ahead of time to make sure you can access the building.
  2. “Language contacts as an instrument for linguists and historians” (also in Russian) at the XXI Open Conference for Philology Students at St. Petersburg State University. Plenary session will take place on April 16, 10:40 am – 2:20 pm at the Philological Faculty, Universitetskaya Nab., 11 (Университетская наб., дом 11). Schedule here.

If you’re interested in attending either event, please contact me for details.

 

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Invited talk at UCLA this Friday!

This Friday I will be presenting our join work with Ekaterina Lyutikova at the UCLA Department of Linguistics. My talk is entitled “WHAT IS CASE? A VIEW FROM RUSSIA”

Abstract: In recent years, syntacticians have showed a renewed interest in case marking, and two new theories have been competing as the best account of case-related phenomena: the Inherent Case Theory (ICT), put forward by Woolford (2006), among others, and the Dependent Case Theory (DCT), advocated recently by Baker (2015) and Baker and Bobaljik (2017). The proponents of the DCT, in particular, argue it to be the best account of three phenomena: (1) languages with ergative alignment, (2) applicative and other similar alternations, where the introduction of an additional argument (with no change to the thematic roles of other arguments) changes the case marking, and (3) Differential Object Marking. In this talk, I challenge those claims by bringing to the table data from three languages spoken in Russia: Russian, Agul and Tatar. I further show that the ICT can handle such data better than the DCT.

(The map on the right illustrates the location of Agul in Dagestan, listed as Agu.)

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New article on Yiddish published

My article on the history of Yiddish, “On Slavic-influenced Syntactic Changes in Yiddish: A Parametric Account” has been published in the proceedings of FASL24 (the NYU meeting):

Pereltsvaig, Asya (2017) On Slavic-influenced Syntactic Changes in Yiddish: A Parametric Account. In: Yohei Oseki, Mashe Esipova, Stephanie Harves (eds.) Annual Workshop on Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics. The NYU Meeting 2015. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Slavic Publications. Pp. 281-300.

Introduction:

Slavic influence on the phonology, morphology, and lexicon of Yiddish is well-documented (Weinreich 1980, inter alia). In contrast, syntactic innovations triggered by contact with Slavic languages are rarely investigated. This paper examines the extension of verb-second (V2) from root clauses to embedded clauses, which was suggested to be Slavic-influenced by Weinreich (1958) and Santorini (1989, 1992). However, no satisfactory explanation has been offered in the previous literature for how Slavic languages—which lack V2 in either root or embedded clauses—could have engendered such a change in Yiddish. The key to the proposed analysis is treating (embedded) V2 not as a unitary phenomenon, but as a “constellation” of parameter values, some of which were already in place in Yiddish before Slavic languages came into the picture and the rest of which changed under the influence of Slavic.