Current Research Projects
Currently I am pursuing four main research projects. I welcome student and professional collaborators in all of these areas. (I also have smaller projects involving scope and kinship terms, about which feel free to ask!)
θ -ROLES AS FORMAL FEATURES. Projection in the Government Binding Theory (Chomsky 1981) made crucial use of θ-roles and θ-role assignment. I am updating these notions within the Minimalist Program, recasting θ-roles as formal syntactic θ-features and θ-role assignment as θ-feature agreement. Among other things, this view yields a radical reconceptualization of light verbs and prepositions as well as an attractive view of “argument inversions” like passive, psych movement, applicatives and instrumental advancement. The latter are analyzed as the product of formal θ-features interacting with the theory of Movement.
Languages Studied in this Project: English, Mandarin, Japanese
- 2016 Larson R.K. Transitive agreement? Brownbag presentation, Stony Brook University (October 12 2016).
- 2016 Larson R.K. and C. Zhang. Applicative shift and light heads in Mandarin . Roundtable on Current Issues in Light Verb Syntax in Chinese, Chinese University of Hong Kong, HK (May 28 2016).
- 2015 Larson R.K. Hierarchies of projections vs. hierarchies of features . International Workshop on Syntactic Cartography, Beijing Language and Culture University, Beijing, PRC (December 7 2015).
CONCORDIAL PHENOMENA: The theory of features developed by Pesetsky and Torrego (2007) yields a general notion of concordial feature: one that is uninterpretable and unvalued. I am exploring cross-linguistically for examples of “concordializing elements” – elements that convert an expression that is typically valued for a given feature into one that is unvalued for that feature. Examples include “adjectivalizing” elements that convert a noun, which is valued for case and φ-features, into an expression that exhibits such features by concord. I am exploring the hypotheses that reverse Ezafe elements and Bantu/Kohoisan linkers are concordializers.
Languages Studied in this Project: English, Mandarin, Japanaese, Persian, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Taleshi, Pashto, Zazaki, Kinande
- 2016 Kinande linkers as concordializers. (in prep)
- 2015 Larson R.K. On AP- 地 manner adverbs in Mandarin . 27th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL 27), UCLA (April 4 2015).
- 2009 Larson, R.K. Chinese as a reverse Ezafe language . Yuyanxue Luncong (Journal of Linguistics) 39: 30-85. Peking University.
GENERALIZED QUANTIFIER SYNTAX & SEMANTICS: GQ theory attributes argument structure to quantifiers analgous to predicates. This suggests that theories of predicate projection based on argument structure (θ-roles) should apply to them as well, an idea explored in earlier work. My results with θ-features yield a way of formalizing these ideas within the Minimalist Program, yielding many intriguing semantic questions. For example, θ-features in vP/VP have a direct interpretation within Neo-Davidsonian event semantics. If θ-features apply to the projection of DP/DegP, can they also be given event semantical interpretation? Fascinating puzzles and challenges arise!
Languages Studied in this Project: English, Warlpiri
- 2016 Larson R.K. Quantificational states and argument separation . Workshop on the Syntax and Semantics of the Nominal Domain. Frankfurt University, (February 5 2016).
RETHINKING CARTOGRAPHY. My results with θ-features suggest a potential rethinking of the Cartographic Program, which currently assumes many separate functional heads rigidly ordered in a hierarchy determined by functional selection. I reanalyze proposed cartographic heads as features ordered in a feature hierarchy. These features are resident on a single head that is projected in shells. Projection in cartographic domains (left periphery, modifiers, etc.) thus comes to mimic projection in vP/VP. This reanalysis solves several conceptual problems within cartography and suggests interesting views of “inversions” within cartographic projections (e.g., movements within the left periphery, reorderings among modifiers, etc.)
Languages Studied in this Project: English, Mandarin, Italian
- 2017 Larson R.K. Rethinking cartography . Biolinguistic Conference on Interface Asymmetries. New York University (November 11 2017).
- 2017 Larson R.K. Rethinking cartography. Second International Workshop on Syntactic Cartography (IWSC2), Beijing Language and Culture University, Beijing, PRC (October 29 2017).
- 2015 Larson R.K. Hierarchies of projections vs. hierarchies of features . First International Workshop on Syntactic Cartography (IWSC2). Beijing Language and Culture University, Beijing, PRC (December 7 2015).