The Structure of Words at the Interfaces

Heather Newell, Máire Noonan, Glyne Piggott et Lisa deMena Travis. 2017. The Structure of Words at the Interfaces. Oxford University Press. 384 pages.

This volume takes a variety of approaches to the question ‘what is a word?’, with particular emphasis on where in the grammar wordhood is determined. Chapters in the book all start from the assumption that structures at, above, and below the ‘word’ are built in the same derivational system: there is no lexicalist grammatical subsystem dedicated to word-building. This type of framework foregrounds the difficulty in defining wordhood. Questions such as whether there are restrictions on the size of structures that distinguish words from phrases, or whether there are combinatory operations that are specific to one or the other, are central to the debate. In this respect, chapters in the volume do not all agree. Some propose wordhood to be limited to entities defined by syntactic heads, while others propose that phrasal structure can be found within words. Some propose that head-movement and adjunction (and Morphological Merger, as its mirror image) are the manner in which words are built, while others propose that phrasal movements are crucial to determining the order of morphemes word-internally. All chapters point to the conclusion that the phonological domains that we call words are read off of the morphosyntactic structure in particular ways. It is the study of this interface, between the syntactic and phonological modules of Universal Grammar, that underpins the discussion in this volume.

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Biolinguistic Investigations on the Language Faculty

Di Sciullo, Anna Maria, dir. 2016. Biolinguistic Investigations on the Language Faculty. John Benjamins. 238 pages.

The papers assembled in this volume aim to contribute to our understanding of the human capacity for language: the generative procedure that relates sounds and meanings via syntax. Different hypotheses about the properties of this generative procedure are under discussion, and their connection with biology is open to important cross-disciplinary work. Advances have been made in human-animal studies to differentiate human language from animal communication. Contributions from neurosciences point to the exclusive properties of the human brain for language. Studies in genetically based language impairments also contribute to the understanding of the properties of the language organ. This volume brings together contributions on theoretical and experimental investigations on the Language Faculty. It will be of interest to scholars and students investigating the properties of the biological basis of language, in terms the modeling of the language faculty, as well as the properties of language variation, language acquisition and language impairments.

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Functional Categories in Three Atlantic Creoles: Saramaccan, Haitian and Papiamentu

Lefebvre, Claire. 2015. Functional Categories in Three Atlantic Creoles: Saramaccan, Haitian and Papiamentu. John Benjamins. 386 pages.

This book is about the functional categories of three Caribbean creoles: Saramaccan, Haitian Creole and Papiamentu with two specific goals. The first one is to evaluate the respective contribution of the source languages to the functional categories of these three creoles. The second is to evaluate the degree of similarity/dissimilarity of the functional categories across these creoles. This study is cast within the relabeling-based account of creole genesis. Several lexical items discussed in this book may fulfill more than one grammatical function thus raising the issue of multifunctionality. No such in-depth comparative work of these three creoles with their source languages and of the three creoles among themselves is available elsewhere in the literature. This book is addressed to linguists (including Master and PhD students) interested in syntactic categories and more specifically in functional categories, to creolists and to researchers interested in language contact.

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The Architecture of Determiners

Leu, Thomas. 2014. The Architecture of Determiners. Oxford University Press. 240 pages.

Work in morphology is typically concerned with productive word formation and regular inflection, in any event with open class categories such as verbs, nouns, and adjectives, and their various forms. The Architecture of Determiners, by contrast, is devoted to a set of function words: the closed class of determiners. While it is traditionally assumed that function words are syntactically atomic, Thomas Leu shows that a comparative perspective on a series of determiners – each insistently vivisected into its minimal morphotactic segments – reveals an anatomy with properties analogous to clausal syntax, including a lexical, an inflectional, and left peripheral layer, as well as transformational relations among subconstituents. Leu argues that determiners are extended adjectival projections with a closed class minimal stem.

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Relabeling in Language Genesis

Lefebvre, Claire. 2014. Relabeling in Language Genesis. Oxford University Press. 328 pages.

Relabeling is a process that assigns a lexical entry of language-x a new label derived from a phonetic string drawn from language-y. This process plays a central role in the formation of contact languages such as mixed languages, pidgins and creoles, and New Englishes. In this book, Claire Lefebvre offers a coherent picture of research on relabeling over the last 15 years, and replies to the questions that have been directed at the relabeling-based theory of creole genesis presented in Lefebvre (1998) and related work. It addresses such questions as: how does relabeling apply across language contact situations and across lexicons, and what constraints act upon it? What other processes apply in language genesis and how do they interact with relabeling? Can a relabeling-based theory of creole genesis really account for all of the features that a theory of creole genesis must be able to account for?

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À l’ouest des Grands Lacs : communautés francophones et variétés de français dans les Prairies et en Colombie-Britannique.

Papen, Robert A. et Sandrine Hallion, dir. 2014. À l’ouest des Grands Lacs : communautés francophones et variétés de français dans les Prairies et en Colombie-Britannique. Québec : Presses de l’Université Laval. 314 pages.

Ce collectif a pour objectif de faire connaître les variétés de français parlées dans les quatre provinces de l’Ouest canadien (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta et Colombie-Britannique). Il est constitué de huit chapitres ainsi que d’un texte de présentation qui fait état des recherches antérieures sur les parlers français de l’Ouest canadien. Le premier article dresse un tableau historique des communautés francophones de l’Ouest et les sept autres traitent de divers aspects linguistiques (lexicologiques, phonétiques, phonologiques, morphosyntaxiques, etc.) des parlers français de l’Ouest. Chacune des provinces (sauf la Colombie-Britannique) est « représentée » par deux articles. La séquence des chapitres est celle des provinces d’est en ouest.

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Grammaire de la langue innue

Drapeau, Lynn. 2014. Grammaire de la langue innue. Québec : Presses de l’Université du Québec. 644 pages.

L’innu, une langue « imagée » à la structure simple et aux moyens réduits? Rien de plus faux! Cette grammaire de référence de la langue innue, inspirée de la basic linguistic theory ou linguistique empirique, déconstruit ce mythe en répertoriant les faits de langue, en les décrivant, en les expliquant et en les reliant entre eux de manière à en élucider la logique.

  • Distingue les dialectes de l’Ouest (parlés à Mashteuiatsh, Pessamit, Uashat mak Mani-utenam et Matimekush) et les dialectes de la Basse Côte-Nord (parlés à Ekuanitshit, Nutashkuan, Unaman-shipu et Pakut-shipu).
  • Répertorie les diverses catégories de nominaux : noms, pronoms, démonstratifs et possessifs.
  • Classifie les verbes et expose les conjugaisons, les modalités et les temps verbaux, de même que le système de voix de base et de voix dérivée.
  • Présente les types de propositions et leur articulation et explique les fonctions grammaticales de la phrase.
  • Décrit la formation des mots, soit celle des noms, des adverbes et des verbes.

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An Annotated Syntax Reader: Lasting Insights and Questions.

Kayne, Richard S., Thomas Leu et Raffaella Zanuttini, dir. 2014. An Annotated Syntax Reader: Lasting Insights and Questions. Wiley-Blackwell. 608 pages.

An Annotated Syntax Reader brings together a collection of seminal articles published over the last forty years that demonstrate the empirical and theoretical foundations of current syntactic theory.

  • Includes introductions, annotations by the editors, and discussion questions to teach students how to critically read precedent-setting works
  • Features writings by authors including Noam Chomsky, Paul Postal, and Luigi Rizzi
  • Focuses on significant ideas, core passages of articles, and resulting applications that have shaped the field of syntax
  • Encourages an active, participatory reading of the texts; one which motivates readers to read creatively and come up with their own novel observations

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The Nature and Origin of Language

Bouchard, Denis. 2013. The Nature and Origin of Language. Oxford University Press. 448 pages.

This book looks at how the human brain got the capacity for language and how language then evolved. Its four parts are concerned with different views on the emergence of language, with what language is, how it evolved in the human brain, and finally how this process led to the properties of language. Part I considers the main approaches to the subject and how far language evolved culturally or genetically. Part II argues that language is a system of signs and considers how these elements first came together in the brain. Part III examines the evidence for brain mechanisms to allow the formation of signs. Part IV shows how the book’s explanation of language origins and evolution is not only consistent with the complex properties of languages but provides the basis for a theory of syntax that offers insights into the learnability of language and to the nature of constructions that have defied decades of linguistic analysis, including including subject-verb inversion in questions, existential constructions, and long-distance dependencies.

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Département de linguistique

Le Département de linguistique regroupe un corps professoral internationalement reconnu dont les domaines de spécialisation recouvrent les principaux champs de la linguistique.



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