Syntax and Semantics

Eve Sweetser

Professor of Linguistics; Director, Celtic Studies Program

PhD, UC Berkeley

Semantics, syntax, historical linguistics, Celtic languages, speech act theory, metaphor theory, semantic change, grammaticalization, grammatical meaning, gesture

Line Mikkelsen

Professor of Linguistics

PhD, UC Santa Cruz

Syntax, semantics, morphology, Danish and other Germanic languages, Karuk and other languages of California, philosophy of language

Peter Jenks

Associate Professor of Linguistics

PhD, Harvard

Syntax, semantics, phonology, fieldwork; Moro and other Niger-Congo languages; Thai, Mandarin, and other East and Southeast Asian languages

Amy Rose Deal

Associate Professor of Linguistics

PhD, UMass Amherst

Syntax, semantics, fieldwork, Nez Perce

Yiddish Linguistics

Isaac L. Bleaman
2020

Linguistic studies of Yiddish span several centuries and incorporate a wide range of research questions and methodologies, from philological analyses of Old Yiddish texts to generative approaches to particular grammatical constructions. The historical development of the language has undoubtedly been, and continues to be, the most hotly debated research topic in Yiddish linguistics. However, other productive areas of inquiry have included structural analysis (e.g., syntax, semantics, and phonology), dialectology and other fields of sociolinguistics (e.g., language contact and interspeaker...

Implicit Standardization in a Minority Language Community: Real-Time Syntactic Change among Hasidic Yiddish Writers

Isaac L. Bleaman
2020

The recent turn to "big data" from social media corpora has enabled sociolinguists to investigate patterns of language variation and change at unprecedented scales. However, research in this paradigm has been slow to address variable phenomena in minority languages, where data scarcity and the absence of computational tools (e.g., taggers, parsers) often present significant barriers to entry. This article analyzes socio-syntactic variation in one minority language variety, Hasidic Yiddish, focusing on a variable for which tokens can be identified in raw text using purely morphological...

Minority language maintenance and the production-prescription interface: Number agreement in New York Yiddish

Isaac L. Bleaman
2021

Standardization is a focus of language maintenance efforts in many, but not all, minority language communities. What is the impact of this choice on interspeaker variation in maintained languages? This study investigates variable number agreement in Yiddish, a minority language spoken by two distinct communities in the New York area: (1) Hasidic Jews, who maintain the language without standardization, and (2) Yiddishists, who are overtly committed to maintaining a "correct" Yiddish. An analysis of data from 40 sociolinguistic interviews shows that Yiddishists have significantly higher...

Predicate fronting in Yiddish and conditions on multiple copy Spell-Out

Isaac L. Bleaman
2021

Predicate fronting with doubling (also known as the predicate cleft) has long been a challenge for theories of syntax that do not predict the pronunciation of multiple occurrences. Previous analyses that derive the construction via syntactic movement, including those attributing verb doubling to the formation of parallel chains (e.g., Aboh 2006; Kandybowicz 2008), are incompatible with remnant movement (Müller 1998), which does not give rise to doubling. This article presents data from the predicate fronting construction in Yiddish, in which verbs always double but complements...

Indexiphors: notes on embedded indexicals, shifty agreement, and logophoricity

Amy Rose Deal
2018

Over the past 15 years there has been an explosion in the number of languages reported to allow indexical shift. Across this literature, the argument for indexical shifting is typically quite simple: (Premise 1) Indexical n has non-utterance-based reference in embedded clause c of language L. (Premise 2) Clause c cannot be a quote (e.g. because it is permeable to wh-movement or NPI licensing, or contains descriptions de re). (Conclusion) Therefore, Language L allows indexical shift. Is this form of argument valid? For many cases discussed in the recent literature: only if we take 1st...