|Institution(en)||MIT Linguistics and Philosophy|
|Ort||Online (see below)|
|Link to SPAGAD Lecture Series|
Commentator: Hans-Martin Gärtner, Ungarische Akademie der Wissenschaften
From Syntax in the Treetops, to be published as a Linguistic Inquiry Monograph (MIT Press) in May 2022
Early in the development of generative grammar, Ross (1970) and Emonds (1970) put forth separate but equally bold proposals. Ross argued that there is a layer of superstructure that contains representations of the speaker and the addressee as well as the predicate representing the speech act of the utterance. Emonds proposed that there is a layer of representation he called the Root created by non-structure preserving transformations. Both came under heavy criticism, which led to these proposals largely disappearing from core discussion in syntax. I will argue that, once we account for the problems, the two proposals turn out to be about the same phenomenon. They point to the existence of a projection at the highest point in the structure that is the locus of illocutionary force of the utterance (Ross 1970) and the precise distribution of this projection in syntax (Emonds 1970). Using a recent proposal by Krifka (e.g., 2020) as a starting point, I will argue, following many scholars (e.g., Speas and Tenny 2003, Wiltschko 2017, Zanuttini 2008), for the existence of what I call the Speaker-Addressee Projection (SAP) at the top of the tree. Evidence will be drawn from a wide range of languages including Basque, Japanese, Magahi, and Romanian. As Ross noted, SAP by itself is not sufficient; some layer must connect it to the proposition in the CP. Unlike Ross, who posited a performative predicate for this purpose, I will follow Krifka in positing the Commitment Phrase (CommitP). I will give evidence for the existence of the CommitP from Romanian and Japanese sentence particles, including spoken language of Japanese children on the autism spectrum.
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