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LSLT: Aaron Doliana (LING)

Time: 
Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 12:30 PM
Location: 
Language Science Center (2130 H.J. Patterson)

Lunch served at 12:15, talk starts at 12:30.

How many grammars of Accusative-and-Infinitive constructions can we prove there to be in English?

Abstract: Recent work by Jeff Lidz and colleagues on Korean has shown that a population of learners, when confronted with input that is consistent with acquiring one of two grammar, can end up randomly picking between them. Accusative-and-Infinitive constructions in English (1b) also have a somewhat ambiguous status in the syntactic literature: there is evidence in favor of two competing grammars for them, from which Howard Lasnik concludes that indeed speakers have both grammars. This would constitute an instance of optionality in the grammar at the level of transformations, a known problem for learning. In this talk I share the initial stages of a project that investigates whether indeed speakers consistently have both grammars, whether just some speakers have both, or what the range of variation between speakers is. 
 
(1) 
a. Taylor believes that they are liars.
b. Taylor believes them to be liars.