In this presentation Dr. Neeleman will develop a theory in which person features are more abstract than usually assumed: they do not refer to speaker or addressee, but are rather used to navigate a ‘person space’ . The theory is confronted with two typological problems.
(i) Why is the inventory of persons so limited? Why aren’t there 30 persons? (In this context 30 is not a random number, but represents the number of potential persons.)
(ii) What explains the typological observation that syncretism between first and third person is much rarer than syncretism between either first and second, or second and third person (Baerman et al. 2005, Baerman and Brown 2011)?
If time allows, he will discuss also Dutch as a case study. In this language there are two person endings that arrange themselves in such a way that there is a 2-3 syncretism in the regular case, a 1-2 syncretism under subject-verb inversion, and an optional 1-3 syncretism with a particular lexical class of verbs (modals).
Ad Neeleman is Professor of Linguistics at University College London. His research focuses on syntactic theory and the interaction between the syntax and syntax-external systems. He received his PhD from Utrecht University (Complex Predicates, 1994) and is the author of some forty research papers and two books (Flexible Syntax, 1999, with Fred Weerman, and Beyond Morphology, 2004, with Peter Ackema). His current research deals with linear asymmetries in syntax, the grammar of person and the linguistic representation of causation.
This event is presented by he Crosslinguistic Investigations in Syntax-Phonology Research Cluster, and sponsored by the UC Humanities Network. Staff support provided by the Institute for Humanities Research. For more information, including disabled access, please contact: Shann Ritchie, (831) 459-5655, firstname.lastname@example.org. Maps: maps.ucsc.edu.