In this talk, I use complex verbs in the Neo-Aramaic language Turoyo as a window into theoretical issues at the syntax/morphology and morphology/phonology interfaces, including directionality and locality constraints on allomorphy, mechanisms of word formation, and derivational timing. I will first show, using data from allomorphy and agreement restrictions, that the suffixes to the verb base in Turoyo appear in the opposite linear order from what would be expected given their underlying syntactic hierarchy: the innermost suffix is the syntactically highest, and the outermost is the lowest. This puzzle raises the question of how the verbal complex in Turoyo is formed, and I consider several pathways to wordhood, including approaches inspired by Compton and Pittman 2010, Harley 2013, and Harizanov and Gribanova 2018.Once we have a handle on the basic components and structure of the verb word, I add one final ingredient to the mix, past tense. The past tense morpheme, -wa, has a variable linear position in the verbal complex, and interacts very differently with phonological processes compared to morphological processes; more specifically, -wa is visible in its surface position to phonology, but is invisible in this position to allomorphy. I propose that -wa is an infix, and show how this analysis—coupled with a cyclic derivation that separates morphology from phonology—straightforwardly accounts for -wa’s puzzling behavior.

Laura Kalin is an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Princeton University. She received her PhD in 2014 from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests are in morphology and syntax, especially allomorphy, agreement, and nominal licensing, with a current empirical focus on Neo-Aramaic languages. She has recent/forthcoming publications in Syntax, Linguistic Inquiry, and Glossa.

Friday, January 11 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Poulton Hall, 230
1421 37th St., N.W., Washington

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Academic Events


Georgetown College, Linguistics


Laura Kalin

Event Contact Name

Jennifer Brusstar

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