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EALing 2008

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Auxiliary Selection: A Test Case for Optimization at the Lexicon/Syntax Interface
Géraldine Legendre (Johns Hopkins Univ.)

23 septembre 2008

Program: This talk will address the issue of auxiliary selection (be versus have) in both the present perfect and in passive constructions cross-linguistically. The present perfect exhibits considerable variation cross-linguistically. Some well-known languages (e.g., Italian, French, Dutch, and German) exhibit a split; others exclusively select have (e.g., Spanish); yet others exclusively select be (e.g., Slavic languages, Shetland English, and some Italian dialects). In contrast, the choice of auxiliary in passive constructions in these languages is highly restricted: it is never have but (almost) exclusively be. I propose that the choice of a particular auxiliary in a given context in any language results from optimizing over two mappings: one between lexico-aspectual properties and argument status (internal versus external), the other between argument status and the marked auxiliary have – provided that the constraints on such mappings are violable and re-rankable cross-linguistically. In particular, I argue against a direct mapping from lexico-aspectual properties to auxiliary, derive three universals of auxiliary selection from the formal OT analysis, and discuss how the Unaccusative Hypothesis should be construed from the present perspective. If time allows, I will also present an analysis of person-based auxiliary selection in Italian dialects and confront the difficult problem of formalizing a predictive typology of person-based splits.
1/ September 23, 2008, at 6:30 pm.
Requisites: Familiarity with OT but no extensive knowledge thereof.

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Géraldine Legendre Géraldine Legendre (Johns Hopkins Univ.)
Géraldine Legendre is professor at Johns Hopkins University.

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