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David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21St Street, B7600, HRH 2.114A, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

Faculty and Graduate Student Colloquium

Fri, November 19, 2010 • 4:00 PM • HRH 2.118 French and Italian Lounge

Assistant Professor, Bryan Donaldson-Initial subordinate clauses in the clausal left-periphery in early Old French

In this presentataion I discuss variation in the syntactic behavior of initial subordinate clauses in a series of early Old French texts (10-12th centuries). Initial subordinate clauses headed by quant 'when,' se 'if,' por ce que 'because,' and other demonstratio variation along two axes: the clausal position of the subordinate with respect to the following main clause. The syntax of the main clause, specifically after subordinates in se, shows early evidence of the eventual evolution toward the modern Subject-Verb order. Drawing on evidence from the position of object clitic pronouns and the presence of left-dislocated constituents, I argue that the default position for the initial subordinates was outside the clausal structure proper, in the left-peripheral Frame field, in both early and later Old French.

 

Graduate Student, Nicholas Bacuez-Prosody: Defining Vagueness

The main claim of the Autosegmental-Metrical model, the most prolific theory on intonation since the 1980s, is that phonetic disparities can be resolved with the proper phonological model: the intuition that some utterances have something in common in spite of apparent variations comes from the fact that their underlying similar structure is similar. A single object gives rise to many of the different shadows dancing on the wall of Plato's cave. For this colloquium, I will briefly present how I am addressing this idea in my dissertation. My work is based on the concept of vagueness, which, according to Russel and Wittgenstein, is a necessary feature of language: it allows intercommunication among idiolects. I employ a quantitative approach to linguistic vagueness using fuzzy sets theory, which was developed to deal with non-binary problems in logic. Although fuzzy (or many-valued) logic is commonly used in engineering, no linguistic model has so far used it. With the help of fuzzy logic, I am developing a method to extract prosodic forms from their ever-changing aspects.

Sponsored by: Department of French and Italian


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