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Linguistics Colloquium: Hagit Borer, “In the Event of a Nominal”

November 4, 2011 @ 4:00 am - 6:00 pm  |  Stevenson Fireside Lounge

Hagit Borer

Hagit Borer

The paper is a detailed study of the properties of Argument-Structure derived -ing nominals versus those of -ing synthetic compounds. In particular, I show that while -ing Argument Structure nominals are compositional and have event structure, -ing synthetic compounds do not. I further argues that these contrasts may only be accounted for by a syntactic approach to the derivation of complex words. In particular, it can only be accounted for under complete syntactic event decomposition, which severs not only the external but also the internal argument(s) from the root and which allows the internal structure of complex words, so-called, to be syntactically visible.

Taking as a starting point the study of the human language faculty within the generative approach, Professor Borer’s research for the past 15 years spans three sub-areas of linguistics: comparative syntax, morphosyntax and language acquisition. Her study of inter-grammatical variation and comparative syntax led to the development of the hypothesis that this variation is reducible to the functional/inflectional component. This hypothesis, in turn, served as a starting point for the study of the functional/ inflectional system in general and its interaction with syntax in particular, therefore leading to the emergence of a morphosyntactic model. From a different perspective, these hypotheses brought about the investigation of child language and the acquisition of grammatical knowledge.

In recent years, Professor Borer has been pursuing an approach which shifts the computational load away from the lexical entry to the syntactic structure, subscribing to the view that an independent linguistic lexicon includes a minimal amount of structural information, and that it is structural constraints which determine traditionally lexical properties such as syntactic category type and argument structure. She has pursued the consequences of that approach for morphosyntax, for language acquisition, and for the syntax-semantics interface.

Hagit Borer is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Southern California. This talk is presented by the Department of Linguistics. For more information please contact Nathan Arnett,


November 4, 2011
4:00 am - 6:00 pm


Stevenson Fireside Lounge
Humanites 1 University of California, Santa Cruz Cowell College
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 United States
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