UCL Division of Psychology & Language Sciences

PhD students

Current students

Elena Titov

Project: Word order variation in Russian

Nikos Velegrakis

Project: Polydefinites

Former students

Marco Tamburelli

Dissertation: The Role of Lexical Acquisition in Simultaneous Bilingualism

This thesis proposes a particular formalisation of the acquisition process and argues for a theory of the acquisition of lexical properties that is based on the interaction between two higher level systems. The first of these is a system dedicated to organizing the developing lexicon into paradigms while the second is an informationally monotonic updating system whose role is to add newly acquired lexical information to those items that are not yet fully developed. It is then argued that this model can accommodate transfer effects as an inevitable consequence of Bilingual First Language Acquisition.

Home page:

Hitoshi Shiraki

Dissertation: Economy and the Distribution of Reflexives [download]

This dissertation develops an economy-based theory of the distribution of reflexives in Dutch, English and Japanese, although other languages are also referred to. The proposal combines a minimalist encoding of binding dependencies in syntax with economy-based proposals in the spirit of of Reinhart and Reuland. While it accounts for a wide range of binding-related data, it also establishes two key results. First, a minimalist encoding of binding that is compatible with Inclusiveness can make a contribution to our understanding of the so-called Anaphor Agreement Effect (Rizzi 1999) and its interaction with the theories of case and agreement. Second, it is shown that restricting the evaluation of economy conditions to a local domain allows otherwise recalcitrant binding data to be brought into the fold.


Eric Mathieu

Dissertation: The Syntax of Non-Canonical Quantification: A Comparative Study

The expected schema for quantificational structures at LF in natural languages is one whereby the semantic restriction is adjacent to the operator with which it is associated: Operator - Restriction - Matrix. However, many constructions in natural languages do not follow this canonical quantification format. This thesis investigates several cases of non-canonical quantification whereby the semantic restriction is not adjacent to its operator: Operator - Matrix - Restriction. On a descriptive level, it is shown that non-canonical quantification is tolerated as long as no scopal element intervenes between the operator and the in situ semantic restriction. Otherwise scope island effects are exhibited. The main thesis of this study is that the scope-freezing property of predicative indefinites, which is amply justified on independent grounds, provides the basis for an explanation of the intervention effects shown in split constructions. The relevant facts are made to follow from the Scopal ECP (Williams 1994) and are thus accommodated in a principled way. The various domains of enquiry are French WH in situ, partial WH movement, French negative constructions involving so-called N-words, and constructions with attributive focus particles. All these constructions are argued to be cases of non-canonical quantification. In each case an operator is separated from its noun restrictor and scope island effects arise.

Current whereabouts: Eric Mathieu is Assistant Professor in the Linguistics department at the University of Ottawa [home page].

Jonathan White

Dissertation: An Inquiry into Minimalist Phrase Structure [download]

This thesis takes as its starting point the proposal in Kayne (1994) that all syntactic structures are underlyingly spec-head-complement, and that they are right-branching. It investigates this proposal using data from English degree constructions, namely result clauses and comparatives. A comparison is made between these constructions and English VPs, on which the majority of the phrase structure debate in the literature has been based. The evidence for left-branching and for right-branching in VPs is considered, and similar evidence sought for degree constructions. It is argued that VPs have a mostly right-branching structure, although left-branching structures are required in restricted circumstances. Also reason and manner adjuncts are argued to be right-adjoined to the VP node, a conclusion that is re-inforced by considering the constituency of VP adjuncts and some PP sequences noted by Jackendoff (1973). In degree constructions too, both left-branching and right-branching structures are shown to be necessary. It is concluded that Kayne's proposal, while attractive from a minimalist perspective, is too strong.

Current whereabouts: Jonathan White is a Senior Lecturer in the English Department at Högskolan Dalarna, Sweden.