Please join us this week for Ling-Tea at its usual time and place: Tuesday at 1:00 in Linguistics room 117.
Presenter: Jessica Coon
Title: Unergatives, antipassives, and the underspecification of roots: Evidence from Chuj (a practice talk for CILLA XII)
Abstract: The suffix -w in Chuj (Q’anjob’alan) is found in two different environments: (i) “incorporation antipassives”, and (ii) certain denominal intransitive verbs (unergatives). In both, the result is an intransitive verb stem. In this talk, I propose that these two uses of the suffix -w can be unified under an account in which -w is a verbal suffix (i.e. a Voice head) which combines with a root to form an intransitive verbal stem with a single agentive external argument. Crucially, this unification relies on the ability for -w to combine with apparently different types of roots: transitive verb roots which have incorporated bare NP objects, nominal roots, as well as “positional” roots. I argue that the most elegant account of these facts is one in which roots are underspecified for lexical category (see e.g. Halle and Marantz 1993; Arad 2003 in general, and Lois 2011 on Mayan). This analysis also has implications for the status of antipassives. Under this view, the Chuj antipassive is not derived from a transitive. Rather, both transitive and antipassive stems are formed directly from a root.