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Linguistics Seminar - Professor Abbas Benmamoun, UIUC Dept. of Linguistics: "Units of Derivation and the Syntax Morphology Interface: The Semitic Root and Pattern System as Case Study"

SpeakerProfessor Abbas Benmamoun, UIUC Dept. of Linguistics
Date Apr 18, 2013
Time 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm  
Location Lucy Ellis Lounge, 1080 Foreign Languages Building
Cost Free and open to the public.
Sponsor Dept. of Linguistics
Event type Lecture
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One of the key controversies in current syntactic and morphological analyses revolves around the basic units of derivation, including derivations that feed word formation. Some analyses assume that the basic unit is the root which maybe devoid of categorical features. However, most of the debate has been driven by theoretical and conceptual factors.  Semitic languages provide a rich empirical  ground for this debate because they have derivations that involve the consonantal root and derivations that access the entire stem (both consonantal and vocalic melodies). In this talk, I provide empirical  arguments that challenge the role of the root in syntactic and post-syntactic derivations but that does give it a prominent role in lexical derivations.  One case study will be number marking. It will be shown  that number marking which can realize both  verbal plurality (at the level of event structure) and number agreement with subjects and objects  differ in how they are derived (and which prosodic units they can access) depending on their syntactic and semantic properties. Important questions about the interface between morphology, the lexicon, and syntax will be discussed as well as  first, second, and heritage language acquisition of the basic units of word formation.

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