Lecturers / Intervenants


Artemis Alexiadou Université de Stuttgart Handout1, Handout2, Handout3, Handout4
Anne-Catherine Bachoud-Levi Hôpital Henri Mondor
Emmanuel Dupoux LSCP (EHESS-CNRS-ENS)
Hilda Koopman UCLA Handout1, Handout2
Brenda Laca Université of Paris 8 Handout1, Handout2, Bibliography
Alec Marantz MIT/NYU Handout1, Handout2, Handout3a, Handout3b, Handout4
Jason Merchant Université de Chicago Handout1, Handout2, Handout3, Handout4, Handout5
Philip Miller Université de Lille Handout1, Handout2, Handout3, Handout4
Léa Nash Université de Paris 8 Handout2, Handout3
Jean-Yves Pollock Université de Marne-la-Vallée & UMR 7023
David Poeppel Université de Maryland
Luigi Rizzi Université de Sienne Handout1, Handout2, Handout3
Peter Svenonius CASTL, Université de Tromsö Handout1, Handout2, Hadnout3, Handout4




Courses and Conferences: List et Descriptions


Below is a list of all courses and conferences with their descriptions. Clicking on Handouts takes to a page with all available hand outs.


Lecturer: Artemis Alexiadou

Course Title: (Anti-)causative alternations

Course Description: The cross-linguistic study of the causative-anticausative alternation provides us with at least two important empirical observations:

I) While the core of verbs that undergo the causative alternation is stable across languages, there is also interesting variation. For instance, anti-causativization seems to be a restricted process in languages like English, while others, e.g. Greek and Hindi freely form anticausatives. Moreover, the reverse pattern is also found, e.g. causatives of verbs of appearance are possible in Japanese but not in English.

II) Languages show substantial variation in the morphological marking of the alternation (see Haspelmath 1993): in many languages the anticausative and not the causative variant of the alternation is marked by special morphology, other languages mark the causative variant of the alternation and there are also languages with non-directed alternations. In this course, we will deal with the above issues by adopting a non-derivational approach to the alternation. According to this, change of state verbs are generally decomposed into at least three layers of structure, a Voice, an eventive v component and a Root-phrase. We will first provide evidence for this decomposition. We will then address the question to what extent systematic patterns can be found across languages, how they correlate with the specific syntactic structures available for the alternation, how they are derived and what the relevant parametric options are that lead to the diverse empirical picture found..

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge in syntax (an introduction to syntax course)


Lecturer: Anne-Catherine Bachoud-Levi

Lecture Title: Striatum and language: the model of Huntington's disease

In the last 20 years, the role of subcortical structures in brain functioning has become a major field of research. In particular the role of the striatum in executive functions (attention, planning, and working memory) is becoming increasingly understood. However, despite the advent of new brain imaging techniques, its role in language remains a controversial and an unresolved issue, presumably because of technical limitations and because animal models cannot be of any help. Evidence in humans come from language impairments reported for vascular subcortical damage and for neurodegenerative diseases of the basal ganglia, such as Huntington’s disease (HD), which primary targets the striatum at the early stages. Impairments observed in these studies encompass a large range of deficits from various aphasic profiles to isolated dysarthria, disorganisation of semantic knowledge in vascular disorders, or syntactic impairments in HD. Most of these observations are not driven by specific hypotheses on language processing and do not allow one to understand the specific role of the striatum in the broader frame of the language processing. In contrast studies conducted by Ullman 1997 suggest that patients suffering from HD are specifically impaired in syntax processing, which in turn suggest that syntax processing is located in a fronto-striatal circuit. However, although some rules (like morphological conjugation rules or syntactic movement rules) are impaired, canonical structure or pragmatic strategy remain spared (Teichamnn et al., 2005). Thus, studying these patients allow to disentangle various theories of language and their link with other cognitive function like memory or executive functions. Thus, the characterisation of the language disorders accompanying striatal dysfunction and its neural basis, which may reflect either subcortical damage or concomitant cortical dysfunction, constitutes a major challenge for the understanding of language processing.

This lecture will present the state of the art in this line of investigation, some ongoing research and some speculations regarding what it shows regarding the neural substrates of the language faculty.

Prerequisites: none


Lecturer: Emmanuel Dupoux

Lecture Title: Levels of Organization in Spoken Language: Evidence from Perception and Learning

Spoken language is a communication system of unparalleled complexity in the animal world. We will examine some phonological and phonetic aspects of this complexity, particularly from the point of view of perception and learning. We will survey the main theoretical models of speech recognition and language acquisition and confront them to recent results regarding language learning by infants and monolingual adults.

Prerequisites: none


Lecturer: Hilda Koopman

Course Title: Noun/Verb Asymmetries

Asymmetries between Ns and Vs (no raising to subject or raising to object within NPs, for example) have played an important role in the development of syntactic theory, cf. e.g. Chomsky, 1970) and are well documented. Yet these asymmetries remain largely unexplained. In these lectures, we will catalog these asymmetries, discuss some classic proposals in the literature to derive them (e.g. Kayne 1984’s unambiguous paths approach, or Chomsky’s 1986 theory of inherent case, (1986)), and explore if and how these asymmetries can be made to follow given the recent developments in our understanding of syntactic structures and what drives them.

Background readings:

Chomsky, N. 1970. "Remarks on Nominalizations," in R. Jacobs and P. Rosenbaum, P. (eds.) Readings in English Transformational Grammar. Waltham, MA: Blaisdell, pp. 184-221

Chomsky (1986) Knowledge of Language, Praeger, New York. (pp.186-204)

Kayne (1984) Connectedness and Binary Branching. Foris Publications, Dordrecht. Chapter 7: “Unambiguous Paths” (also in May and Koster (1981), Levels of syntactic representation, Foris Publications)

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge in syntax (an introduction to syntax course)



Lecturer: Brenda Laca

Course Title: The semantics of aspect.

Course Description: The conceptual necessity of distinguishing among temporal location, aspect and the Aktionsart of eventuality descriptions expressed by a verb and its arguments is nowadays generally accepted. It goes hand in hand with the idea of a compositional order, in which aspect first operates on eventuality descriptions with a given temporal profile and the resulting configurations are then directly or indirectly temporally located with respect to Utterance Time. This compositional order can be syntactically implemented in different fashions, which nonetheless share the general configuration given in (1):

(1) [Temporal Location [Aspect [Eventuality Description]]]

The intermediate position occupied by Aspect in this configuration correlates with a dual possibility for conceptualizing the category. Approaches emphasizing the impact of aspect on eventuality descriptions have given rise to a family of theories according to which aspect modifies or otherwise determines the temporal structure of an eventuality. Approaches emphasizing what aspect and temporal location have in common give rise to theories in which aspect is modeled as a secondary, non-deictic temporal relation. The first conception has been dominant in the formal semantics tradition, as well as in some syntactic approaches. The second conception does not actually deny the existence of aspect qua eventuality modification, but pleads for a distinction between this range of phenomena and aspect in a narrow sense, which is conceptualized as a relation between an eventuality (or rather, its temporal trace) and a distinguished "interval of visibility" . This course will be devoted to discussing the formal implementations of these alternative approaches, mainly on the basis of material from the Romance languages and from English.

Prerequisites: some knowledge of semantic theory


Alexiadou, A. & al. (eds) (2003), Perfect explorations. Berlin : Mouton/de Gruyter.

Demirdache, H.& M.Uribe-Etxebarria (2005a). The Syntax of Time Arguments, in Lingua, Special Issue on Tense

Dowty, D. (1979) Word meaning and Montague grammar. Dordrecht. Kluwer. Chap. 2 & 3.

Guéron, J. & Lecarme, J. (eds) (2004) The Syntax of Time, MIT Press. Chap. 5, 9, & 12-15.

Klein, W. (1995) A Time-Relational Analysis of Russian Aspect, Language 71:4, 669-695.

Kamp, H. & Reyle, U. (1993) From Discourse to Logic. Dordrecht. Kluwer. §5.1.3, §5.3

Laca, B. (ed) (2002), Temps et aspect. De la morphologie à l'interprétation. St Denis : Presses Universitaires de Vincennes.

Landman, F. (1991), Structures for semantics. Dordrecht : Kluwer. Chap. 3-5.

Landman, F. (1992), The progressive, Natural Language Semantics 1. 1-32.

Rothstein, S. (2004) Structuring Events, Oxford. Blackwell.

Smith, C. S. (1991) The parameter of aspect. Dordrecht. Kluwer.

de Swart, H. (1998) Aspect shift and coercion. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 16. 347-385.


Lecturer: Alec Marantz

Course Title: Morphology and Grammatical Architecture

Course Description: The class will explore the relationship between the theory of Morphology, as developed in Distributed Morphology, and the architecture of grammar, as developed within the Minimalist Program. The first meeting will discuss the basic assumptions of Distributed Morphology (DM). In the second, Blocking will be examined, with the goal of demonstrating that competition in grammatical derivations is limited to the competition between Vocabulary Items for insertion, at the phonological interface, into the terminal nodes from the syntax. The third class will connect the locality domains for morphosemantic and morphophonological interactions to the phases of the Minimalist Program. Finally, the last class will discuss argument structure/morphology interactions, as revealed through an analysis of re- prefixation and stative passives in English.

Prequisites: The class is pitched at the level of a second year graduate student in the US, although any student having taken a general linguistics course plus a semester of generative syntax should be able to follow what's going on.




Halle, Morris and Alec Marantz 1993. "Distributed Morphology and the pieces of inflection," in K.Hale and J. Keyser, eds. The View from Building 20. pp. 111-176. MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.

Embick, David and Alec Marantz 2006. "Architecture and Blocking ." UPenn & MIT ms.

Marantz, Alec 2000. "Words." WCCFL presentation, Los Angeles.

Marantz, Alec 2005. "Rederived Generalizations." Taipei Handout.


Lecturer: Jason Merchant

Course Title: Syntactic abstractness in ellipsis: sluicing, wh-movement, islands

Course Description: This course explores the empirical motivations for positing abstract, unpronounced syntax through a close examination of elliptical structures in a variety of languages. I begin by reviewing the nature of the identity condition that holds between an elided phrase and its antecedent, arguing that at least part of this condition must be stated over articulated syntactic structures, based on recently discovered differences between VP-ellipsis and sluicing. Sluicing then forms the basis for a detailed look at the nature of wh-movement and islands, where the latter are argued to be PF-phenomena. Differential island sensitivity in VP-ellipsis, sluicing, and fragment answers is examined, and a typology of the range of 'island repair' effects is developed. Finally, the results of these investigations are applied to a series of puzzles from the domain of ellipsis in comparatives, including attributive comparatives, pseudogapping, and phrasal comparatives.


Prerequisites: a general knowledge of syntactic theory.


References: Full references will be on the handouts, but for anyone eager to get a head start, these papers and handouts will provide a good rough guide to the daily content.


Day 1: Rethinking syntactic identity conditions in ellipsis. 2005. Ms., U Chicago. berkeley.ellipsis


Day 2: Sluicing. 2006. In M. Everaert and H. van Riemsdijk (eds.), The Syntax Companion, 269-289. Blackwell: London. SynCom.sluicing Ch. 5 ("Deletio redux") of The syntax of silence, Oxford U Press, 2001.


Day 3: Variable island repair under ellipsis. To appear. In Kyle Johnson (ed.), Topics in ellipsis, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. variable.island.repair Fragments and ellipsis. 2004. Linguistics and Philosophy 27.6:661-738. fragments


Day 4: Phrasal and clausal comparatives in Greek and the abstractness of syntax. 2006. Ms., U Chicago. gk.comps.pdf


Lecturer: Philip Miller

Course Title: Perception verbs: a case study in lexical semantics and complementation

Course Description: These lectures will discuss the way the lexical semantics of perception verbs (see, look, hear, listen, feel,..; voir, regarder, entendre, écouter, sentir,..) interacts with their complementation properties. Specifically, the semantic types of the complements (concrete entity, event, fact, proposition, ...) will be examined, in correlation with the different types of meanings that perception verbs can take (strict perception, understanding, opinion, appearance, ...) and with the syntactic categories of the complements (NP, NP VP, CP, small clause). Among others, the following topics will be addressed: (i) the raising versus control status of perception verbs, (ii) individual level predicates in perception verb complements, (iii) negative complements. Data will be taken mainly from English and French.


Prerequisites: The lectures will be accessible to students having a basic knowledge of formal syntax and semantics.




Felser, Claudia. 1999. Verbal Complement Clauses. A Minimalist Study of Direct Perception Constructions. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Ginzburg, Jonathan and Ivan Sag. 2000. Interrogative Investigations: The Form, Meaning, and Use of English Interrogatives. Stanford: CSLI.

Labelle, Marie. 1996. Remarques sur les verbes de perception et la sous-catégorisation. Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes, 83-106.

Miller, Philip et Brian Lowrey. 2003. La complémentation des verbes de perception en anglais et en français. In Philip Miller et Anne Zribi-Hertz (éds), Essais sur la grammaire comparée du français et de l'anglais, 131-188, Paris: Presses Universitaires de Vincennes: Miller&Lowrey2003

Miller, Philip H. 2003. Negative Complements in Direct Perception Reports. To appear in Proceedings of CLS 2003: CLS_39_Miller_2_7

Miller, Philip H. 2003. La complémentation directe et indirecte des verbes de perception en anglais. In Pauchard, Jean (s.l.d), Les prépositions dans la rection verbale (domaine anglais), 115-135. Presses Universitaires de Reims: Reimsarticle32

Miller, Philip H. (à paraître) Prédication et évidentialité : de l'emploi copule des verbes de perception. A paraître dans Faits de langue: FDL_Pred_Philip_Miller_RTF


Lecturer: Léa Nash

Course Title: Structuring VP : Agents, Causes, Goals.

Course Description: Recent work in syntactic theory has replaced a traditional Projectionist view of VP according to which the projection of arguments is conditioned by the thematic properties of verbal predicates and their structural organisation depends on an universal priciple of theta assignment hierarchy with a Constructionist approach. This novel line of research puts forward a hypothesis that verb meanings are built in the syntactic component of the grammar by means of event templates that contain the verbal root and functional predicates such as little v, Voice, Applicative, Cause, Become. The course aims to investigate some central issues concerning the structure of VP. How are Dative arguments encoded? Are causers and agents treated alike in transitive templates?. What is the role of Voice head, Cause head, and APPLICATIVE head in licensing these arguments? What is the interaction, if any, between the lower Root layer and upper functional layers in verbal templates ? In order to fully understand the phenomena at hand a special attention will be paid to ergative languages in which the agent of transitive clauses bears a special ergative case.


Prerequisites: An Introduction to Syntax


Lecturer: David Poeppel

Course Title: Cognitive Neuroscience of Language

Course Description: The lectures will cover the nature of the techniques used to investigate the neural basis of language processing and discuss how these approaches can (and cannot) be used to learn something about language. The focus will be, principally, on deficit-lesion correlation (neuropsychology), magnetoencephalography (MEG), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Examples will be drawn from speech perception (lecture 2), lexical access and representation (lecture 3), and sentence comprehension (lecture 4).


Prerequisites: No specific background required.

References: Further Information will be made available at: Teaching


Lecturer: Luigi Rizzi

Course Title: Movement and Concepts of Locality

Course Description: Emonds (1970) observed that the core cases of movement preserve structure, in that they create configurations which can be independently generated by the fundamental structure building mechanism. The hypothesis that Move is a subcase of Merge (Internal Merge: Chomsky 2000, etc.) elegantly expresses structure preservation while reducing the computational operations. Still, the structures resulting from movement, the chains, manifest some irreducible peculiarities, first and foremost the fact that they obey certain locality principles.

In this course I would like to address the issue of locality in the broader context of the study of the nature and causes of movement. There are two basic concepts of locality that are referred to in the linguistic literature:


- Intervention: in … X … Z … Y … a local relation cannot hold between X and Y across an intervener Z, an element bearing some structural similarity to the elements involved in the local relation.


- Impenetrability: in … X … [K … Y … ], a local relation cannot hold between X and Y, with Y in impenetrable configuration K.

Relativized minimality (Rizzi 1990) is a principle of the first kind, Phase Impenetrability (Chomsky 2001, 2005) is of the second kind. There seems to be a certain division of labor between the two principles: Intervention deals with Weak Islands, while (Phase) Impenetrability deals with the obligatoriness of successive-cyclic movement in configurations not involving a visible intervener (e.g., extraction from declaratives). I would like to discuss these issues in the course, and explore some possibilities aiming at unifying the two concepts of locality.

Prerequisites: basic knowledge of syntactic theory


Lecturer: Peter Svenonius

Course Title: The Anatomy of the Category P

Course Description: This is a cross-linguistic investigation into locative and directional expressions, with a focus on their relationship to adpositions (prepositions and postpositions, the category P). "Local" case systems like those of Finnish and Hungarian will be examined, as will languages which make extensive use of relational nouns to express locative concepts. The aim of the course will be to develop some sense of the range and limits of cross-linguistic variation in this domain, with an eye toward characterizing the nature of universals, whether they are syntactically autonomous or cognitively grounded.


Prerequisites: A basic background in descriptive linguistics would be useful. No theoretical background will be presupposed.