A recent McGill news article spotlighted Indigenous languages and the need for universities to act as allies to ongoing efforts in communities. The article features discussion with Janine Metallic, Kahtehrón:ni Stacey, and Jessica Coon, and is available here: https://giving.mcgill.ca/all-stories/bringing-indigenous-languages-back-life
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The Fieldwork Lab will meet Thursday November 1 from 4:00–5:30 in Linguistics room 117. This week we will hear short presentations on data elicitation and data gathering puzzles, with presentations by Natalia Brambatti Guzzo (on a phonological experiment in Southern Brazilian Portuguese), Henrison Hsieh (on Tagalog relative clauses), Matthew Schuurman (on Inuktitut coordination), and Michaela Socolof (on correlative clauses in Georgian).
Louisa Bielig’s 2015 BA Honours thesis, “Classifiers and constraints in Chuj topic constructions”, is now available for download here: [PDF]. Louisa finished her BA in 2015 and was awarded McGill’s Cremona Memorial Prize in linguistics for her research on Chuj.
Abstract: Like many other Mayan languages, Chuj, a language of the Q’anjob’alan branch, exhibits syntactic ergativity in the form of an extraction asymmetry. The A’-extraction of transitive subjects (ergative arguments) requires the use of a special construction, known as Agent Focus. However, preverbal ergative subjects without Agent Focus are permitted in topic constructions, where a corresponding nominal classifier, which I refer to as a resumptive classifier, appears post-verbally. Transitive and intransitive preverbal subjects can appear as topics with resumptive classifiers, while preverbal object topics are strongly dispreferred.
In this paper I propose that the preverbal subject in this construction has not been fronted, as is the case in Agent Focus. I argue that it has instead been base-generated in an external topic position and is co-indexed with the resumptive classifier below, following Aissen’s (1992) account of Tsotsil and Popti’ (Jakaltek) external topics. I will employ Aissen’s diagnostics and other tests to show that these topics are not compatible with a movement account, supporting the high base generation analysis. Subsequently, I will present two constraints on the external topic construction, which explain the strong dispreference of object topics.