Skip to main content
School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

‘A-bar Matters’ workshop

When: Wednesday, September 13, 2023, 1:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Where: ArtsTwo 2.17 (and online), Mile End campus

On the occasion of Tom Meadows dissertation defence, we are pleased to announce an afternoon workshop, entitled A-bar Matters’ on Wednesday 13th September.

Guest speakers include:

  • 2:00-2:50: Tom Meadows (QMUL)
  • 2:50-3:40: Doreen Georgi (Potsdam) and Mary Amaechi (Ilorin) (online)
  • 3:40-4:10: Break, refreshments in room
  • 4:10-5:00: David Adger (QMUL)
  • 5:00-5:50: Ad Neeleman and Misako Tanaka (UCL)
  • Followed by a reception 

The sessions will take place in person in ArtsTwo 2.17, from 1:30pm. This event will be hybrid and can be joined via Zoom using the following link: ( Meeting ID: 822 0602 2179)

Abstracts for the talks are listed below.

Tom Meadows (QMUL)
Clause structure, locality and the A/A-bar distinction: the view from Swahili relatives

This talk examines the relationship between clause structure and the locality of movement dependencies in Swahili relatives, summarising the major aspects of my PhD thesis. Swahili has three well-known types of relative clause, with and without the complementiser amba (Ashton 1947, Barrett-Keach 1980, Vitale 1981). I attribute the range of (morpho)syntactic differences to three sizes of relative clause: CP, TP and VoiceP. I further show that these three sizes of relative clause crucially differ in their ability to be formed with long-distance movement. The restriction is best characterised in terms of relative clause size: relative clauses can only be formed by long distance movement out of complement clauses which are the same size or smaller. As a result, the bigger relatives permit movement out of a wider range of complement clauses than their smaller counterparts.  This connection between clause size and locality is argued to follow from a new implementation of the Level-Embedding system of Williams (2003, 2011). I conclude by considering the implications of this approach for the distinction between A-movement  and A-bar movement. The distinction is argued to rest on structural differences between landing sites in the clause which cannot be characterised purely in terms of the featural content of probes, contra e.g. van Urk (2015), Halpert (2019). 

Doreen Georgi (University of Potsdam) & Mary Amaechi (University of Ilorin)
Repairing the that-trace configuration in Igbo

The full abstract for this talk can be viewed here: Georgi & Amaechi QMUL abstract [PDF 68KB]

David Adger (QMUL)
Islands as a side effect of checking

There has been a dearth of theorizing recently on islands, and what there has been is unusually stipulative (Stepanov’s 2007 derivation of Freezing, Chomsky’s 2008 Edge Condition on looking too deeply into the edges of phases; Bošković’s 2016 appeal to the interaction of phases, labelling theory, agreement and anti-locality, Zyman’s 2021 Phasal Anti-locality etc., none of which follow from core precepts of the theory of structure building). Part of the issue has also been the (re)discovery of many exceptions to islands, and also new experimental evidence that muddies the empirical waters. In this talk I approach the issue from the perspective of mereological syntax, which eschews phases, has no need for a labelling theory, and in which Freezing is impossible to formulate. It is a theorem of this system that only the outermost specifier of a specifier is accessible for connection to higher structure, and I show how this, plus a general checking constraint that requires features that need to be checked to be in a specifier relation with features that can check them, derives wh-islands, their exceptions, and an effect that I call the Wh-Island Re-emergence Effect (WIRE), whereby the exceptions become islands again in certain circumstances. I then show how the same basic architecture extends to Specificity Condition effects, including Freezing in scrambling constructions, and to the residue of Subject Island effects that recent research has converged on (cf. Bianchi and Chesi 2014). If time permits, I extend the theory also to Sichel’s findings that Relative Clause island effects depend on whether the relative clause has a raising or matching analysis, and whether the nominal phrase it is part of has raised or not. 


Ad Neeleman and Misako Tanaka (UCL)
Extraction asymmetries show that type A coordination is adjunction

Ross (1967) already observed that the coordinate structure constraint can be violated in certain semantically asymmetric structures. In this paper we consider one of these structures, namely type A coordination, in detail (the terminology is from Lakoff 1986; an example is Here’s the whisky I went to the store and bought.) We present experimental evidence showing that the pattern of argument and adjunct extraction from type A coordinate structures matches the pattern of argument and adjunct extraction from structures containing purpose clauses in all crucial respects. This near-perfect parallel behavior suggests that, like purpose clauses, the second conjunct in a type A coordination is an adjunct (see also Brown 2017). We explore the consequences of this finding for both interpretive and syntactic analyses of asymmetric coordination.*

Keywords: coordination, adjunction, coordinate structure constraint, type A coordination

Back to top