Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Interclausal NEG Raising and the Scope of Negation (Collins and Postal 2017)

In this paper, we show that the syntactic analysis of one major type of NEG raising in Collins & Postal (2014) is inconsistent with the facts of negation scope revealed by Klima (1964) type tests for sentential negation. Two of the four original Klima tests plus three additional ones are discussed. We propose a novel alternative syntactic analysis, one also involving NEG raising, that is consistent with the relevant tests, as well as with all the principles of NEG raising and NEG deletion proposed in Collins & Postal (2014). We suggest, further, that the newer analysis permits a more uniform overall conception of the various cases of NEG Raising.

Interclausal NEG Raising and the Scope of Negation

Collins, Chris and Paul Postal. 2017. Interclausal NEG Raising and the Scope of Negation. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 2(1), 29.

Disentangling Two Distinct Notions of NEG Raising (Collins and Postal 2018)

In this paper we consider two analyses of NEG raising phenomena: a syntactic approach based on raising NEG, as recently advocated in Collins & Postal 2014, and a semantic/pragmatic approach based on the Excluded Middle Assumption; see Bartsch 1973. We show that neither approach alone is sufficient to account for all the relevant phenomena. Although the syntactic approach is needed to explain the distribution of strict NPIs and Horn clauses, the semantic/pragmatic approach is needed to explain certain inferences where syntactic NEG raising is blocked.

Disentangling Two Distinct Notions of NEG Raising

Collins, Chris and Paul Postal. 2018. Disentangling Two Distinct Notions of NEG Raising. Semantics and Pragmatics 11, 1-21.

Dispelling the Cloud of Unknowing (Collins and Postal 2018)

The argument in CP(2014) hinged on a claimed restriction on Horn clauses due originally to Horn (1975: 283; 1978: 169). The claim was that Horn clauses are limited to the complements of verbs independently permitting Classical NR, that is, complements of CNRPs. However, since the appearance of CP(2014), Horn (2014) has attested a new data class illustrating Horn clauses, but ones occurring in the complements of non-CNRP predicates. These include in particular a nonfactive use of the verb know, which Horn calls know-NF, a terminology we adopt. An example of the type at issue is given in (4):

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Home Sweet Home (Collins 2007)

The word “home” can be used as a directional or a (non-directional) locative, as shown in the following examples: (1) a. They went home. (directional) b. They stayed home. (locative) This paper will attempt to explain the following asymmetry between the overt realization of “to” and the overt realization of “at” with the word “home”: (4) a. I went (*to) home. b. I did my homework *(at) home. c. I stayed (at) home. The main theoretical conclusions of the paper are as follows. First, the condition governing the pronunciation of prepositions is a generalization of the Doubly-Filled Comp Filter, reformulated as an economy condition on Spell-Out. Second, I show that the notion of “light noun” as put forth in Kishimoto (2000) to account for the properties of expressions like “somebody” and “nothing”, also plays a role in the syntax of “home” and other locative expressions in English. Third, my paper makes a contribution to the growing literature on the internal structure of PPs (see Koopman 2000). In particular, I show that “from” should be analyzed as “from AT”, and that particles such as “in” should be analyzed as “AT/TO in”.

Home Sweet Home

Collins, Chris. 2007. Home Sweet Home. In Lisa Levinson and Oana Savescu-Ciucivara (eds.), NYU Working Papers in Linguistics 1. (

A Formalization of Minimalist Syntax (Collins and Stabler 2016)

The  goal  of  this paper is to give a precise, formal account of certain fundamental notions in minimalist  syntax. Particular attention is given to the comparison of token-based (multidominance) and chain-based  perspectives on Merge. After considering a version of Transfer that violates the No-Tampering Condition  (NTC), we sketch an alternative, NTC-compliant version.

A Formalization of Minimalist Syntax 

Collins, Chris and Edward Stabler. 2016. A Formalization of Minimalist Syntax. Syntax 19, 43-78.

Greek and English Passives, and the Role of by-Phrases (Angelopoulos, Collins and Terzi 2020)

This paper proposes an analysis in which passive by-phrases are merged as the arguments of the active with the corresponding theta roles (Hasegawa 1988; D’Hulst 1992; Mahajan 1994; Goodall 1997; 1999; Caha 2009; Collins 2018a; Roberts 2019; Karlík 2020 and Hallman 2020). The analysis finds support in new data from Greek and English showing that, just like the DP arguments of the active, by-phrases bear the same range of theta roles and can bind a non-logophoric reflexive. On the other hand, it is shown that PPs with non-argument theta-roles, that is, adjunct PPs, cannot. In light of these findings, the paper reaches a number of independent conclusions such as that VoiceP, the projection responsible for the distinct morphological realization of the different Voice phenomena, does not introduce the external argument (Collins 2005; Merchant 2013; Manzini et al. 2016; Ramchand 2017; Roberts 2019; Zyman & Kalivoda 2020; Newman 2020). Furthermore, in light of the new data presented here, the paper discusses reasons for which the following proposals cannot be maintained: that the Greek and English passive are formed in a different manner, or with different Voice heads (Alexiadou & Doron 2012 i.a.), that by-phrases are merged as adjuncts (Bruening 2013; Legate 2014; Alexiadou et al. 2015 i.a.) or that Greek by-phrases systematically exhibit distinct behavior from the corresponding DP arguments of the active (Alexiadou et al. 2015). Lastly, it is argued that the rules of semantic composition, if applied as in Heim & Kratzer (1998) and Bruening (2013), make available more ways in which arguments can be merged than those which are actually attested. The paper suggests that the rules in question must be constrained by independent principles, such as Chomsky’s (1981, 1986) Theta Criterion.

Green and English Passives, and the Role of by-Phrases

Angelopoulos, Nikos, Chris Collins and Arnonto Terzi. 2020. Greek and English Passives and the Role of by-Phrases. Glossa 5(1): 90, 1-29.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Gaps, Ghosts and Gapless Relatives (Collins and Radford 2015)

This paper looks at the syntax of so-called gapless relative clauses in spoken English. §1 contrasts gap relatives (like that italicized in ‘something which I said’, in which there is a gap internally within the relative clause associated with the relativized constituent) with gapless relatives (like that italicized in ‘They were clowning around, which I didn’t really care until I found out they had lost my file’, in which there is no apparent gap within the relative clause). In §2, we note that a number of recent analyses take which to function as a subordinating conjunction in gapless relatives, but we argue against this view and provide evidence that the wh-word in such clauses is indeed a relative pronoun. In §3, we argue that the relative pronoun in gapless relatives serves as the object of a ‘silent’ preposition. In  §4, we present an  analysis under which a preposition can be silent when it undergoes a type of  deletion operation called  Ghosting. §5  discusses  gapless relatives which have a Topic-Comment interpretation, and argues for an extended Ghosting analysis under which a TP containing a predicate of SAYING associated with the  ghosted  preposition is also ghosted. Our overall conclusion is that supposedly ‘gapless’ relatives are  more properly analyze as containing a gap created by relativization of the object of a ghosted preposition.

Gaps, Ghosts and Gapless Relatives

Collins, Chris and Andrew Radford. 2015. Gaps, Ghosts and Gapless Relatives in Spoken English. Studia Linguistica 69.2, 191-235.

Linkers and the Internal Structure of vP (Baker and Collins 2006)

In a variety of languages a particle, which we call the linker, appears between the direct object and a secondary object or nominal adpositional phrase. We compare the syntax of this linker particle in Kinande (Niger-Congo) to its syntax in two Khoisan  languages, Juǀ’hoansi and ǂHoan. We propose an account of the properties that linkers in these languages share, including the linkers’ word order properties and Case-theoretic contributions. We then go on to explore the range of variation that the linker construction  tolerates, with respect to what phrases can move into the linker’s specifier, and whether or not the linker manifests agreement with its specifier. In so doing, we uncover both the principles and the parameters relevant to these linker constructions. Finally, we  point to some evidence that the linker category even exists in Chichewa (and other Bantu languages) in which it is not spelled out overtly. Our analysis provides striking support for the existence of vP-internal functional projections. The data in this paper also lead us to the surprising conclusion that the Minimal Link Condition can be parameterized.

Linkers and the Internal Structure of vP

Baker, Mark and Chris Collins. 2006. Linkers and the Internal Structure of vP. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 24.2, 307-354.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Internal Structure of the vP in Juǀ'hoan and ǂHoan (Collins 2003)

In this article, I analyze ki (ǂHoan) and ko (Juǀ'hoansi) as heading vP internal functional projections dominating VP and dominated by vP. I show how this analysis provides a natural account for the various possible and impossible word orders in constructions involving locative and instrumental phrases. Lastly, I discuss the general implications of my analysis for the theory of Case checking in Chomsky (2000, 2001a,b).

The Internal Structure of the vP in Juǀ'hoan and ǂHoan

Collins, Chris. 2003. The Internal Structure of vP in Ju|’hoan and ǂHoan. Studia Linguistica 57.1, 1-25. 

The Absence of the Linker in Double Object Constructions in Nǀuu (Collins 2004)

The linker in Nǀuu appears before various types of nominal expressions, but not before the second object  in a double object construction. Linkers in Khoisan languages such as ǂHoan and Juǀ'hoansi do appear  in this position. I will show that this property of the linker in Nluu is related to the fact that Nluu has a dative Case  marker -a which appears after the first object of a DOC, whereas ǂHoan and Juǀ'hoansi do not.

The Absence of the Linker in Double Object Constructions in Nǀuu

Collins, Chris. 2004. The Absence of the Linker in Double Object Constructions in N|uu. Studies in African Linguistics, 33.2.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

A Note on Extraction from Conditionals (Collins 1998)

 This paper examines a number of standard extraction tests which are applied to conditionals to determine their syntactic structure. The conclusion is that in conditionals where the protasis and the apodasis are 'linked' by the word then there exists an extra barrier to movement. I will speculate on the source of the extra barrier at the end of the paper, using data on the order of constituents in conditionals and the selection of conditional clauses.

A Note on Extraction from Conditionals

Collins, Chris. 1998. A Note on Extraction from Conditionals. Cornell Working Papers in Linguistics 16, 57-66.

Why and How Come (Collins 1991)

 In this paper I will give an analysis of structures involving "why" and "how come". In section two, I will present an analysis of "why" and "how come". In section three, I will show how a wide range of syntactic facts follows from this analysis. In section four, I will show how a number of facts about quantifier interpretation follow from this analysis. In section five, I briefly discuss the analysis of "how come" of Zwicky (1971). Lastly, I will conclude with a discussion of some of the wider implications of my analysis of "how come".

Why and How Come

Collins, Chris. 1991. Why and How Come. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 15, 31-45.

Converting .MOV Video Files to .MP4 Video Files

ELAR (Endangered Languages Archive accepts .MP4 video files, but not .MOV video files for archiving. The purpose of this blog post is to describe how .MOV files can be converted to .MP4 file using Adobe Premiere Pro.

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Linker in the Khoisan Languages (Collins 2017)

In this chapter, I will present the basic facts about the linker in a number of non-central Khoisan languages: ǂHoã, Juǀ'hoan, Nǀuu, ǃXoõ and ǁXam. I start with ǂHoã not only because historically I worked on ǂHoã first, but also because it is the simplest linker system in some ways. Juǀ'hoan, Nǀuu, and ǃXoo all involve vari­ous complications that perturb the basic ǂHoã system. For example, Juǀ'hoan has a transitivity suffix and inversion, Nǀuu has a dative case marker, and !Xoõ has the transitivity linker.

The Linker in the Khoisan Languages

Collins, Chris. 2017. The Linker in the Khoisan Languages. In Jason Kandybowicz and Harold Torrence (eds.), Africa’s Endangered Languages: Documentary and Theoretical Approaches, 237-266. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

This paper also appears as chapter 2 of:

Collins, Chris. 2019. The Linker in the Khoisan Languages. Oxford University Press.

The Agreement Parameter (Collins 2004)

In this  paper, I will investigate the  relationship between agreement and movement by taking a close look  at agreement in the Bantu languages, focussing on Kiswahili. I propose that agreement in Kiswahili is always accompanied by internal Merge, but that there can be agreement without internal Merge in English. This analysis accounts for deep and systematic differences between these languages. In terms of the notion of trigger, the results of my paper suggest that although agreement does not trigger movement in English, agreement does trigger movement in Bantu.

The Agreement Parameter

Collins, Chris. 2004. The Agreement Parameter. In Anne Breitbarth and Henk van Riemsdijk (eds.), Triggers, 115-136. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin. 

A Fresh Look at Habitual Be in AAVE (Collins 2006)

In this paper, I describe the use of agentive be (‘If you don’t be careful, you will be caught’) in informal American English. I will show that agentive be has largely the same syntactic behavior as habitual be in AAVE (African American Vernacular English). Based on these similarities, I will conclude the paper by raising a number of questions about the origin of habitual be in AAVE.

A Fresh Look at Habitual Be in AAVE

Collins, Chris. 2006. A Fresh Look at Habitual Be in AAVE. In Ana Deumert and Stephanie Durrleman (eds.), Structure and Variation in Contact Languages, Creole Language Library Series. John Benjamins. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Relative Clause Deletion (Collins 2015)

 The goal of this paper is to investigate the ambiguity of sentences like (1):

(1) At the party, I saw three boys who I know and one girl.

On one interpretation, I propose (1) has the following structure:

(2) At the party, I saw three boys who I know and one girl <who I know>

The  angled  brackets  <…>  indicate  that  the  enclosed  string  is  present  syntactically  but  not pronounced. I will call the process by which the relative clause in (2) is not pronounced relative clause deletion.

Relative Clause Deletion

Collins, Chris. 2015. Relative Clause Deletion. In Ángel J. Gallego and Dennis Ott (eds.). 50 Years Later: Reflections on Chomsky’s Aspects. Vol. 77 of MIT Working Papers in Linguistics, 57-69. Cambridge, MA: MITWPL. 

Eliminating Labels (Collins 2002)

This somewhat speculative and exploratory paper will argue that the labels of phrasal categories (e.g., VP versus NP) are not needed in syntactic theory. In other words, no operation or condition may be defined that makes reference to VP versus NP. An immediate consequence of this proposal is that bar-levels, such as X' versus XP, are impossible to define. This paper can be seen as an extension of the program, begun in Chomsky's 1994 paper "Bare Phrase Struc­ture," to derive X'-Theory from more basic principles.

Eliminating Labels

Collins, Chris. 2002. Eliminating Labels. In Samuel Epstein and Daniel Seely (eds.), Derivation and 

Explanation in the Minimalist Program, 43-64. Blackwell.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Topics in Ewe Syntax (Collins 1993)

This thesis analyzes a number of problems in Ewe syntax. Its goal is to show how several difficult problems in Ewe syntax have natural treatments in the generative grammar framework, and how these problems bear on current theoretical issues.

Quotative Inversion (Collins and Branigan 1997)

Sentences in which a direct speech complement to a verb of saying is preposed or postposed can trigger  inversion of the  subject and the finite verb. This structure is analyzed in a minimalist framework, leading to a revision of the minimalist theory of locality constraints on movement.

A Smuggling Approach to Raising in English (Collins 2005)

 In this squib, I analyze raising constructions involving an overt experiencer,  as in the following example  (I indicate lower occurrences or ‘traces’’ with the ( . . . ) notation):

A Smuggling Approach to the Passive in English (Collins 2005)

I propose a theory of the passive that combines aspects of the principles and parameters analysis (no specific rules, no downward movement) and Chomsky’s (1957) Syntactic Structures analysis (the arguments in the passive are generated in the same positions as they are in the active).

A Smuggling Approach to the Passive in English

Collins, Chris. 2005. A Smuggling Approach to the Passive in English. Syntax  8.2.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Argument Sharing in Serial Verb Constructions (Collins 1997)

It is shown that internal argument sharing is a necessary property of serial verb constructions in Ewe.  Data  involving the marking of oblique/default Case in Ewe show that argument sharing is mediated by the presence of empty categories, contra proposals by Baker (1989, 1991). Serial verb constructions are  analyzed as control structures where the second verb incorporates into the first verb at LF.

Argument Sharing in Serial Verb Constructions

Collins, Chris. 1997. Argument Sharing in Serial Verb Constructions. Linguistic Inquiry 28.3, 461-497.

VP Internal Structure and Object Shift in Icelandic (Collins and Thrainsson 1996)

We show that if Chomsky's (1993) locality theory is adopted, then it is necessary to postulate VP-internal  functional projections in order to account for object shift in double object constructions in Icelandic. We account for these functional projections by analyzing ditransitive verbs as causative constructions, where a causative ''light verb'' takes a TP complement.  Finally, we show that the VP-internal  functional structure is independently needed to account for word order phenom­ena in particle constructions in Icelandic.

VP Internal Structure and Object Shift in Icelandic

Collins, Chris and Höskuldur Thráinsson. 1996. VP Internal Structure and Object Shift in Icelandic.  Linguistic Inquiry 27.3, 391-444.

Economy of Derivation and the Generalized Proper Binding Condition (Collins 1994)

Chomsky  (1991, 1993) and  Chomsky and  Lasnik (1992) have proposed that syntactic derivations are constrained by the principle of Economy of Derivation. In this article I will show that two direct consequences follow rom this proposal. First, it eliminates a class of derivations involving 'chain interleaving'  (section 2). Second, it prohibits cer­tain cases of downward and sideways movement  (section  3). To the extent that these consequences are easily verifiable, they provide strong support for such a principle.

Economy of Derivation and the Generalized Proper Binding Condition

Collins, Chris. 1994. Economy of Derivation and the Generalized Proper Binding Condition. Linguistic Inquiry 25.1, 45-61.

An AAE Camouflage Constructions (Collins, Moody, Postal 2008)

Spears 1998 discusses a use of the word ass in African American English (AAE) in sentences like They done arrested her stupid ass and I’m gonna sue her ass. We refer to DPs like her stupid ass generically as the ACC (ass CAMOUFLAGE CONSTRUCTION), and we view the ACC as an instance of a universal grammatical phenomenon we call CAMOUFLAGE. The ACC is also attested in non-AAE dialects of American English (Beavers & Koontz-Garboden 2006a).

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Spanish usted as an Imposter (Collins and Ordóñez 2020)

Abstract: Across dialects, Spanish uses the third person forms usted and ustedes to refer to the addressee. In this squib, we propose an imposter analysis of these forms in the framework of Collins and Postal 2012.

Keywords: imposters, camouflage, usted, ustedes, ghosting, impoverishment

Spanish usted as an Imposter

Friday, December 4, 2020