Research + Projects

Secondary predication at the interfaces

This project examines the syntactic, semantic, and prosodic structure of secondary predicates, or nonverbal expressions which share an argument with (but which are distinct from) the finite matrix verb in a clause. In finite metrical corpora, including the RgVeda and the Homeric poems, depictive and resultative secondary predicates consistently appear in prosodically isolated positions (Caso 2024, Hale and Kissock 2021). In modern languages, prosodic evidence reflects the special treatment of secondary predicates: in Modern Irish, the initial mutation system fails to apply across secondary predicate boundaries; in Georgian, pitch accent and tonal patterns set secondary predicates apart from attributive adjectives; in Italian dialects, consonant gemination fails to apply across secondary predicate boundaries  (Caso and Ó Muirthile 2024). These properties are compatible with a prosodic analysis of secondary predicates that includes extraposition to a level high in the prosodic hierarchy of each language, which in turn reflects their syntactico-semantic complexity.

LSA 2024 [handout] [paper]

Harvard Celtic Colloquium [abstract]

ICHL 2023 [handout]

PLC47 [abstract] [slides] [paper]

Iranian agreement and alignment

This project provides an analysis of the alignment system in Book Pahlavi, a Western Middle Iranian language attested between the second century BC and the tenth century AD. In the older Iranian languages to which Pahlavi is related, including Old Persian (Western Old Iranian) and Old Avestan (Eastern Old Iranian), the alignment system is nominative-accusative. In Book Pahlavi, nominative-accusative alignment prevails in most contexts, but in the past-tense, the system has been described as demonstrating a kind of tense/aspect/mood-based split-ergativity. The Book Pahlavi past tense is characterized by a lack of subject-verb agreement and is marked by the presence of an oblique agent. Following Karimi (2012), the past participle marker is an instantiation of the head of a high projection (PtcpP/AspP). Considering this alongside the proposal of Kalin and van Urk (2015) in which the presence of an additional φ-probe in the imperfective aspect can precipitate an “agreement reversal”, I argue that the -ta-marker has inherent φ-features and “blocks” agreement with the oblique agent in Old Iranian constructions; by the time of Book Pahlavi in the Middle Period, the overt morphosyntactic realization of this marker as -ta- has fallen out of use, but that which it represents has not disappeared from the derivation.

Third AMC Symposium [handout] [poster]

Harvard University Indo-European and Historical Workshop [handout]