Archive of European Projects

Clausal Selection: Integrating Theoretical with Experimental Linguistics (ClauSeInTEL)
Start date: 01 Sep 2015, End date: 31 Aug 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The nature of the relationship between a verb and its grammatical dependents is an ancient question in linguistics, tracing back to Aristotelian notions of the subject-predicate relation. A major debate in current theoretical linguistics is how to model this, and the standard view (that the relevant information is stored as part of the grammatical specification of the verb) has been challenged by the development of a new idea: that both the verb and its noun-dependents are embedded inside syntactic hierarchies of fundamentally grammatical elements (socalled “functional categories” encoding notions such as tense, aspect, definiteness and numerosity) and that it is the interaction between the functional category structures that embed the verb and the noun that is responsible for establishing the dependency. This viewpoint has allowed a new and empirically successful understanding of the relationship between a verb and its dependents, capturing how definiteness and grammatical number interact with aspectual categories across different languages. However, this new approach has never been applied to the other major grammatical dependency that verbs set up: clausal complementation. That is, the parallel relation between a verb and its clausal, as opposed to nominal, dependents. This project investigates, using interdisciplinary methods, whether these new theoretical ideas can be applied to this empirical domain, comparing two languages (Greek and English) whose clausal syntax is quite different. The objective is to both test the theoretical model in a new empirical area, leading to new findings about how clausal embedding works syntactically, and to determine how best to develop and extend the model to domains that it was not designed for. The action requires extended training in experimental methods and design (both behavioural and neurolinguistic), statistical analysis, development of systematic theoretical models, as well as interaction with a non-academic partner.
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