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HUMIT: MIT and Harvard Student conference on language research

Wednesday talk Friday talk Past talks

Here you will find archives of GSAS sponsored talks at the Dept. of linguistics during the 1999/2000 academic year. Current information is not available here. For current events go to the Linguistics Department main web site:

If you have any questions concerning current talks, please contact Lynn Nichols at the address below:

Lynn Nichols
305 Boylston Hall
Department of Linguistics
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138



The Department of Linguistics invites you to a GSAS Talk by:

Susi Wurmbrand

McGill University & University of Vienna


A-movement in German: Agree and Attract

Day: Friday 19 May
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Place: Sever Hall 106, Harvard.Yard

A reception will follow in the Ticknor Lounge, Boylston Hall


The goal of this talk is to provide empirical evidence for the operation "AGREE" (i.e., feature matching without movement/pied piping) and to characterize the locality conditions and domain of AGREE. In English, the existence of AGREE is hard to detect since it cannot be shown (conclusively) that movement/pied piping is triggered simply by the need to satisfy the EPP and not by the need to satisfy feature matching. We will therefore restrict our discussion to a language where the EPP does not hold (for T,v), namely German. The relevant contexts that will allow us to make an (indirect) argument for AGREE are scope freezing contexts. It will be demonstrated that in these contexts i) an argument is in its base position at PF, ii) it cannot undergo further movement at LF (as a result of scope freezing), and iii) it matches features (case/agreement) with the respective functional head. Comparing different A-movement contexts, however, we will then show that this form of abstract AGREE is only possible in simple clauses and is impossible/not sufficient in complex clauses (in a way to be made precise). In particular, we will discuss restructuring contexts which involve A-movement from the infinitive and matching of case/agreement features with a functional head of the higher predicate. Crucially, however, in these contexts, movement is forced (i.e., feature matching is only allowed if actual movement occurs) and reconstruction is impossible. The analysis we will suggest is built on the following assumptions: i) feature matching can be met via AGREE or ATTRACT; ii) in German, AGREE is restricted to the thematic domain of the closest lexical verb (i.e., the goal of AGREE has to be an argument of the closest lexical V); and iii) if ATTRACT is forced (i.e., AGREE is impossible), reconstruction is impossible.

The Department of Linguistics invites you to a GSAS Talk by:


Dominika Baran
Department of Linguistics, Harvard Univeristy



Day: Wednesday 17 May
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Place: Graduate Lounge, Dept. of Linguistics, Boylston Hall.




LAST UPDATE: 10/26/00



Department of Linguistics Harvard University