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Linguistics Seminar Series - Dr. Martina Martinović (University of Florida)

Event Type
Linguistics Department
FLB 1080 - Lucy Ellis Lounge
Feb 5, 2018   4:00 - 5:00 pm  

Talk Title: Wh-movement, pseudoclefts, and sluicing in Wolof


One of the most debated questions in the literature on ellipsis is what type of identity requirement must exist between the elided constituent and its antecedent (syntactic, semantic, or some combination of the two). In this talk I discuss one type of ellipsis, sluicing, in which the wh-phrase is the only material from a clause that is pronounced (“Mary likes someone, but I don’t know [ who _________ ].”). Some recent literature (e.g. van Craenenbroeck & Lipták 2013, Gribanova & Manetta 2016) proposes that constructions subject to sluicing (clausal ellipsis) should show cross-linguistic variation depending on the type of movement a language has for allowing a wh-phrase to escape the elided constituent, and the kinds of mechanisms it has at its disposal to achieve non-pronunciation.

Support for this view comes from a variety of languages in which it has been claimed that sluicing-like constructions are not always derived from regular wh-movement constructions, but from a variety of other types of structures, for example from relative clauses in Hungarians, pseudoclefts in Malagasy, clefts and copular sentences in Turkish, Japanese, Chinese, English, etc. (Barros 2014; van Craenenbroeck 2010; van Craenenbroeck and Lipták 2006; Fukaya and Hoji 1999; Grebenyova 2006, 2007; Hiraiwa and Ishihara 2002; Hoyt and Teodorescu 2004, 2012; Kizu 1997; Kuwabara 1996; Merchant 1998; Nishiyama et al. 1996; Potsdam 2007; Paul and Potsdam 2012; Wang Adams and Tomioka 2012). This implies that a strict syntactic identity requirement in sluicing cannot hold. 

One of the challenges in a number of the mentioned proposals is that, while they are well motivated language-internally and consistent with general properties of a language’s syntax, they rarely offer clear morphosyntactic evidence to show that the sluicing construction is not a regular wh-question. The research presented in this talk contributes precisely this type of evidence. I discuss data from wh-movement constructions and sluicing in the Niger-Congo language Wolof, and show that one type of sluicing constructions are not derived from regular wh-questions, but from pseudoclefts. The relevance of the Wolof case is that it offers unambiguous morphosyntactic evidence for this claim, independent of the details of any particular analysis.

Dr. Martinović is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Linguistics at the University of Florida. Her primary interests lie in morphosyntax, though she has undertaken some work in phonetics/phonology and has taken an interest in word-accentual systems. Her website can be found here and her CV here

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