An unexplained difference between reflexive and copular clausal passives in Romanian
Abstract: Romanian possesses a reflexive passive structure, the se-passive, where se is a reflexive clitic, and a copular passive, formed with the auxiliary fi ‘be’. For both passives, the passivized object is either nominal or clausal. While for nominal objects there is a balanced distribution of the two passives, with clauses, there is a sharp difference of acceptability between clausal se-passives and clausal fi-passives. Clausal se-passives occur with any transitive verb and sound perfect. Clausal fi-passives are infrequent and sometimes even unattested. The aim of this paper is to present an account of this difference, while also predicting which syntactic means improve the acceptability of fi-passives. We argue that the contrast between clausal fi- and se– passives springs from the different manner in which the features of Tense, in particular the uD feature, are checked, and show that it is only in se-passives that all the features of T are valued.
Keywords: speakers selection, matched-guise technique, language attitudes, Sardinian, Italian
Adina Camelia Bleotu
Denominal verbs and creativity in child Romanian
Abstract: The current paper looks at the meaning of denominal verbs, i.e. verbs derived from nominal roots, through an experiment testing how Romanian children (mean age: 4;0, age range: 3;0-5;0) and adults understand nonce (non-existent) denominal verbs created from existing nouns such as a cireşi ‘to cherry’ or a vulpi ‘to fox’. We show that children tend to be more “literal” in their interpretation, understanding such novel denominal verbs as actions/processes involving the actual entity denoted by the nominal root. In contrast, adults prefer figurative interpretations in certain contexts, for instance, when the nominal root refers to an animal (a vulpi ‘to behave like a fox’). The results can be explained either cognitively, through children’s preference for literal interpretations at this stage in language acquisition, or structurally, through a preference for a structure which is simpler from a lexico-syntactic point of view, combining mostly action “light” verbs (rather than a whole range of light verbs) with nouns (rather than roots or OBJECT-like N entities). In addition, we notice that both children and adults show an animacy bias, mostly producing sentences referring to animate entities, as well as an intransitivity bias, using intransitive verbs more than transitive ones.
Keywords: denominal verbs, L1 acquisition, Romanian, literal interpretation, figurative interpretation
Subjects in L2 English: The role of feature interpretability
Abstract: The present paper investigates the learning of subjects in L2 English by Romanian learners with a view to identifying possible developmental differences between referential and non-referential subjects. The main question targets the role that feature interpretability plays in the acquisition process in a context in which the learners’ L1 allows null subjects. In line with the view that narrow syntax is acquirable in L2, the results show that proficient learners have native-like knowledge of subjects. But a higher acceptance rate of null expletive subjects, even at an advanced proficiency level, indicates that non-referential subjects are vulnerable in L2 English. I account for these findings in terms of the Feature Interpretability Hypothesis.
Keywords: referential subjects, expletive subjects, L2 English, (un)interpretable features
Acquisition of preposition stranding and pied-piping in wh-questions by advanced level Turkish EFL learners
Abstract: The study investigated the preference of Turkish EFL learners for preposition stranding and pied-piping in constructing wh-questions and whether they experience problems in the acquisition of null-preposition constructions. A 15-item elicited production test was given to 43 Turkish learners with an advanced English proficiency level. The participants were asked to make wh-questions out of the words that were put in mixed order. The results showed that there was no significant difference between preposition stranding and pied-piping in their preferences in constructing wh-questions; however, they erroneously omitted the prepositions in wh-questions. The results did not provide enough evidence to support the hypothesis that L1 transfer was responsible for the preference for preposition stranding or pied-piping and null-preposition constructions in wh-questions.
Keywords: preposition stranding, pied-piping, wh-questions, EFL, L1 transfer
Gullah as a literary dialect: Phonological and morphosyntactic features in 19th century writings. A case study
Abstract: Starting from the 18th century, writers began using Gullah in different stories and plays, and speculated about its origins. Gullah is an American English-based creole spoken along the coast of Georgia, South Carolina and in the Sea Islands. It is also known as Sea Island Creole or Geechee. Several American writers have used this creole in their writings. This paper focuses on the way Edgar Allan Poe used Gullah as a literary dialect, in the short story The Gold-Bug, to render the speech of Jupiter, an old Negro slave. The first part of the paper presents phonological and morphosyntactic features that have been attested in Gullah. The second part of this study analyzes the phonological and morphosyntactic features found in the speech of Jupiter and attempts to demonstrate that Jupiter used the regional superstrate variety of Gullah, as expected from house servants. It will also be shown that Jupiter’s speech also contains many features found in Gullah’s sister variety, African American Vernacular English.
Keywords: Gullah, creole, literary dialect, phonology, Edgar Allan Poe, The Gold-Bug, eye dialect
Imola-Ágnes Farkas & Adriana Todea (eds.). 2020. The Science of Linguistics – Papers in Honour of Ştefan Oltean (Reviewed by Irina Stoica)