UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Linguistics Seminar - Morphological informativity and grammatical licensing

11 May 2017, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

Event Information


Room 118, Chandler House

Speaker: Matt Wagers - Department of Linguistics, University of California Santa  Cruz

In this seminar, I'd like to address two questions: (i) how do speakers integrate morphological information to guide the parsing and interpretation of filler-gap dependencies; and (ii) how does information signalled by morphology interact with information signalled by word order. 

The core data for this investigation will come from a series of experiments on the comprehension of constituent questions and relative clauses in Chamorro, an Austronesian language of the Mariana Islands; but we will also look at similar phenomena in Tagalog. In both languages, the inflection of verbs can convey information about the location of gaps - either through voice morphology or, in Chamorro, WhAgreement. Surprisingly this cue is not always leveraged immediately – particularly when it points to a gap in object position. 

I will discuss the implications of this general finding for theories of how different sources of information contribute to parsing, and how syntactic descriptions incrementally feed semantic interpretation.