Publications & Papers

2016

  • Resumption Ameliorates Different Islands Differentially: Acceptability Data from Modern Standard Arabic. Ms. (submitted), NYU Abu Dhabi, Qatar University, & The University of Connecticut (with Ali Idrissi, Jon Sprouse, & Diogo Almeida). [pdf] [more]

    Abstract

    Two acceptability experiments are presented which assess whether resumptive pronouns freely alternate with gaps and/or ameliorate island violation effects in wh-questions in Modern Standard Arabic. Both experiments test Complex Noun Phrase Constraint violations, adjunct island violations, and whether is- land violations. The results indicate that resumption is largely only acceptable with structurally complex DP fillers (which-NP) and is generally preferred to gapped structures in long-distance dependencies. Resumption is also shown to ameliorate the grammatical component of some island violations (adjunct and whether islands), but in different quantitative amounts across different islands.

    Notes

    This is a draft version of a paper currently under review. Please drop me a line if you intend on citing it. The claims it in it may ultimately supersede our poster from AMLaP in 2015.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A., Ali Idrissi, Jon Sprouse, & Diogo Almeida. 2016. Resumption ameliorates different islands differentially: Acceptability data from Modern Standard Arabic. Ms. (submitted), NYU Abu Dhabi, Qatar University, & The University of Connecticut.

  • Attraction Effects for Verbal Gender and Number Are Similar but Not Identical: Self-Paced Reading Evidence from Modern Standard Arabic. Ms. (submitted), NYU Abu Dhabi & Qatar University (with Ali Idrissi and Diogo Almeida). [pdf] [more]

    Abstract

    Previous work on the comprehension of agreement has shown that, in many languages, incorrectly inflected verbs do not trigger responses typically seen with fully ungrammatical verbs when the preceding sentential context furnishes a possibly matching distractor noun. Four studies are presented which tested the character and timing of these errors in comprehension along the dimensions of grammatical gender and number in Modern Standard Arabic. Despite a robust verbal gender system which interacts with other inflectional features, Arabic readers show agreement attraction effects in reading comprehension for gender and number on verbs given appropriate preceding contexts with mismatching NPs. However, we also observe that these two features do not behave identically either qualitatively or quantitatively. Qualitatively, attraction for gender is not subject to markedness considerations which lead to asymmetries in attraction relative to feature combinations in the preceding NPs, yet number is subject to these asymmetries. Quantitatively, the size of gender effects are smaller and later relative to number attraction effects. These results are shown to require changes to representation and process theoretical models of agreement attraction. We also discuss how models of agreement errors require modifications in order to account for these differential results.

    Notes

    This is a draft version of a paper currently under review. Please drop me a line if you intend on citing it. The claims it in it may ultimately supersede our poster from AMLaP in 2015.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A., Ali Idrissi, & Diogo Almeida. 2016. Attraction effects for verbal gender and number are similar but not identical: Self-paced reading evidence from Modern Standard Arabic. Ms. (submitted), NYU Abu Dhabi & Qatar University.

2015

  • Representing Number in the Real-Time Processing of Agreement: Self-Paced Reading Evidence from Arabic. Frontiers in Psychology 6:347. (with Ali Idrissi and Diogo Almeida). [link] [more]

    Abstract

    In the processing of subject-verb agreement, non-subject plural nouns following a singular subject sometimes “attract” the agreement with the verb, despite not being grammatically licensed to do so. This phenomenon generates agreement errors in production and an increased tendency to fail to notice such errors in comprehension, thereby providing a window into the representation of grammatical number in working memory during sentence processing. Research in this topic, however, is primarily done in related languages with similar agreement systems. In order to increase the cross-linguistic coverage of the processing of agreement, we conducted a self-paced reading study in Modern Standard Arabic. We report robust agreement attraction errors in relative clauses, a configuration not particularly conducive to the generation of such errors for all possible lexicalizations. In particular, we examined the speed with which readers retrieve a subject controller for both grammatical and ungrammatical agreeing verbs in sentences where verbs are preceded by two NPs, one of which is a local non-subject NP that can act as a distractor for the successful resolution of subject-verb agreement. Our results suggest that the frequency of errors is modulated by the kind of plural formation strategy used on the attractor noun: nouns which form plurals by suffixation condition high rates of attraction, whereas nouns which form their plurals by internal vowel change (ablaut) generate lower rates of errors and reading-time attraction effects of smaller magnitudes. Furthermore, we show some evidence that these agreement attraction effects are mostly contained in the right tail of reaction time distributions. We also present modeling data in the ACT-R framework which supports a view of these ablauting patterns wherein they are differentially specified for number and evaluate the consequences of possible representations for theories of grammar and parsing.

    Notes

    The data and analysis code for this paper is also available on github.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A., Ali Idrissi, & Diogo Almeida. 2015. Representing number in the real-time processing of agreement: Self-paced reading evidence from Arabic. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(347).

  • De-Linking Syntactic Case and Agreement in Maltese. Ms., NYU Abu Dhabi. [pdf] [more]

    Abstract

    Structural case and syntactic agreement were historically taken to be tightly connected in the syntactic architecture, with many formal theories assuming that valuation of one leads to assignment of the other. Since Marantz (1993), however, momentum has slowly been building for approaches that de-link these elements. Here I provide an analysis of reduced-clause complement constructions in Maltese (Semitic; Republic of Malta) that yields a novel argument for this dissociation. I show that complements to verbs like ġiegħel, “to cause/force” show no evidence of structural nominative case yet still show fully inflected subject agreement on the embedded predict. I develop a Disjunctive Case (Marantz, 1993) approach to this issue which treats the case assignment as a postsyntactic phenomenon, allowing agreement valuation to proceed on solely syntactic terms.

    Notes

    This is a short squib derived from chapter 3 of my doctoral dissertation.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A. 2011. De-linking syntactic case and agreement in Maltese. Ms., NYU Abu Dhabi.

2013

  • Building Verbs in Maltese. Ph.D. Thesis. UC, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA. [pdf] [more]

    Abstract

    This dissertation examines the morphosyntactic implications of verb-building in the Semitic language Maltese. Theoretically, the dissertation examines the role of functional heads in defining clausal morphosyntactic properties and the interaction of syntax and morphology in the domain of cliticization. The phenomena examined herein are: (i) the major clausal constituency of Maltese and the derivation of subject agreement morphology in periphrastic complex tense constructions, (ii) morphological and periphrastic causative formation and the absence of non- finite verb forms, (iii) the argument structure of ditransitives and the syntax of cliticization, and (iv) the implications of ditransitive argument structure as it pertains to analyses of the Person Case Constraint. The dissertation shows that these phenomena support a view of syntax wherein lexical properties of heads determine agreement morphology and the structure of clausal complements and a view of morphology wherein morphological constraints can influence the output of syntactic computation.

    I show that a pervasive feature of Maltese is the appearance of φ−features on lexical items which would be devoid of φ−features in other languages. Data from floating quantification and word order in complex tense constructions are used to argue that verbs in periphrastic tense constructions receive agreement features via successive-cyclic movement of the subject through intermediate specifier positions. Data from available morphology and adverbial interpretation are presented which suggests that periphrastic causatives in Maltese embed a reduced clause wherein a polarity phrase may host agreement features, accounting for nite verb forms in semantically nonfinite causative complements. Moreover, agreement and case are argued to be computed distinctly, given that causative subjects appear with accusative case yet still trigger subject agreement on the complement predicate. I show that while Agree can account for subject agreement in the usual way, the Maltese causative facts necessitate pairing Agree with a theory of case in which morphological case values are assigned disjunctively based on the number of nominals in a clause.

    I also show that Maltese non-causative ditransitives bifurcate into two distinct classes: (i) a majority class which only allows prepositional dative constructions and (ii) a minority, lexically idiosyncratic class which allows a limited double object construction involving two accusatives. I show that these facts can be accounted for by positing a VP-movement in these ditransitives which interacts with structural Case licensing to derive the appearance of a restricted double accusative case frame.

    Finally, I show that data from potential intervention contexts require treating cliticization in Maltese as an instance of head movement of a simultaneously minimal and maximal determiner element. This view of cliticization is shown to be more appropriate than phrasal movement for the Maltese facts insofar as it correctly predicts that clitic movement should be possible despite the presence of a DP between the base generation site of the clitic and its position on the verb. This view of cliticization is also shown to have ramifications for syntactic treatments of the Person Case Constraint as dative intervention: I argue that not all datives are generated higher than accusatives, falsifying predictions made by syntactic accounts of the Person Case Constraint based on Agree. In place of these, I provide a modern morphological account which calls off cliticization in the morphology in Person Case Constraint-violating contexts.

    Notes

    Portions of this dissertation also appear in slightly more easily-digestible talk/handout versions. See the prepubs page for those versions.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A. 2013. Building Verbs in Maltese. Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA.

2012

  • On the Derivation of the Anaphor Agreement Effect. Ms., UC Santa Cruz. [pdf] [more]

    Abstract

    The Anaphor Agreement Effect (AAE; Rizzi 1990) is a phenomenon occasionally documented whereby reflexive and reciprocal elements cannot control otherwise expected verbal agreement. I argue that the AAE should be properly restricted to only some of the cases documented in the literature and properly understood as applicable only to verbal, not adjectival, agreement. I discuss the case of small clause predicative adjectives in Romance, which appear to show agreement with a reflexive element. The resulting picture is one in which the AAE is applicable to Agree only, and not that morphology typically taken to be concord. I adopt a proposal for an operation Concord slightly modified from Norris (2014) and show how this not only accounts for the AAE and the associated adjectival facts, but also a particularly recalcitrant example of putative object agreement with the French reflexive clitic se.

    Notes

    This is an expanded version of my second qualifying paper from UC Santa Cruz.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A. 2011. On the derivation of the Anaphor Agreement Effect. Ms., University of California, Santa Cruz.

  • Proceedings of the Fifth Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics Conference Cambridge, MA: MITWPL (with Ryan Bennett, Oliver Northrup, & Anie Thompson). [link] [more]

    Notes

    This volume contains the proceedings of the Fifth FAJL Conference, held at UC Santa Cruz 7-9 May 2010.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A., Anie Thomspon, Oliver Northrup, & Ryan Bennett (eds.). 2012. Proceedings of the Fifth Formal Approaches to Japanese Linguistics Conference. Volume 64 in the MIT Working Papers in Linguistics. Cambridge, MA: MITWPL.

2011

  • Morphology at Santa Cruz: Papers in Honor of Jorge Hankamer. Santa Cruz, CA: LRC Publications and the University of California Digital Library (with Nicholas LaCara, & Anie Thompson). [link] [more]

    Notes

    This volume contains papers in honor of Jorge Hankamer in thanks for his many years of service to the community of morphologists at UC Santa Cruz. It contains papers from a graduate seminar in morphology taught in 2009 as well as solicited papers from his alumni over the years.

    Full Citation

    LaCara, Nicholas, Anie Thompson, & Matthew A. Tucker. 2011. Morphology at Santa Cruz: Papers in Honor of Jorge Hankamer. Santa Cruz, CA: LRC Publications and the University of California Digital Library.

  • The Morphosyntax of the Arabic Verb. In Morphology at Santa Cruz: Papers in Honor of Jorge Hankamer, ed. Nick LaCara, Anie Thompson, and Matthew A. Tucker: pp.177–211. Santa Cruz, CA: LRC Publications. [link] [more]

    Abstract

    This paper proposes a unified model of the morphosyntax and morphophonology of the Modern Standard Arabic verbal system which attempts to preserve the empirical and analytical observations from recent Optimality-Theoretic approaches to templates in Semitic (Ussishkin 1999, 2000, 2005) as well as the observations from Distributed Morphology concerning argument structure and morphemic composition (Arad 2003, 2005). In doing so, a clausal syntax for Arabic is proposed which does not crucially rely on an Agr(eement) Projection as a landing site for subject movement. This is done using arguments from VP-adverb placement, negative clitic placement, and word order in perfective periphrastic verbal constructions in order to motivate the syntactic structure. This structure is then shown to pose a problem for modern theories of morphological linearization (Pak 2008; Embick 2010). Finally, the linearization problem is resolved by appealing to prosody as the mechanism for linearization, following recent proposals in morphophonology (Kramer 2007, Tucker 2011b). This move is motivated by data from Arabic Hollow Verbs which confirm the predictions the model makes with respect to allomorphic sensitivity of morphemes to each other over nonconcatenative (and therefore nonadjacent) distances. Finally, the implications of these findings for morphological and syntactic theory are discussed.

    Notes

    This is an expanded version of my qualifying exam paper from UC Santa Cruz and attempts to integrate the major morphophonological claims of my paper from Recherches linguistique de Vincennes with a coherent morphosyntax of Arabic.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A. 2011. The morphosyntax of the Arabic verb. In N. LaCara, A. Thompson, and M. A. Tucker, editors, Morphology at Santa Cruz: Papers in Honor of Jorge Hankamer, pages 177–211. Santa Cruz, CA: LRC Publications.

  • Iraqi Arabic Verbs: The Need for Roots and Prosody. In Proceedings of the 28th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, ed. Mary Byram Washburn, Katherine McKinney-Bock, Erika Varis, Ann Sawyer, and Barbara Tomaszewicz: pp. 196-204. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. [link] [more]

    Abstract

    This paper reviews several arguments for the existence of a consonantal root in Iraqi Arabic, as well as introduces one novel argument in the form of voicing assimilation directionality reversals. These arguments are paired with a discussion of recent proposals for root-and-pattern morphologies by researchers working in Optimality Theory to show the usefulness of prosodic generalizations in explaining these phenomena without the need to fully eschew the existence of the consonantal root. The resulting analysis thus utlizes both the insights of the early work on nonconcatenative templatic morphology based on autosegmental association as well as recent approaches to show that a solution to such systems exists that takes the root to be real, yet derives the pattern system via emergent prosodic templates. Finally, a representative set of Iraqi Arabic verbal forms are derived in the proposed framework.

    Notes

    This is a shortened version of my MA thesis from UCSC, which eventually appeared in longer form as a full-length article in Recherches linguistique de Vincennes.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A. 2011. Iraqi Arabic verbs: The need for roots and prosody. In M. Byram Washburn, K. McKinney-Bock, E. Varis, A. Sawyer, and B. Tomaszewicz, editors, Proceedings of the 28th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, pp. 196–204, Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

2010

  • Roots and Prosody: The Iraqi Arabic Derivational Verb. Recherches Linguistiques de Vincennes 39: Racine et Radical: pp.31-68. [link] [more]

    Abstract

    English

    A number of recent Optimality-Theoretic approaches to Nonconcatenative Templatic Morphologies (NTM) such as the verbal systems of Arabic and Hebrew have argued that NTMs do not require reification of the consonantal root (Bat-El, 1994; Ussishkin, 1999, 2000, 2005; Buckley, 2003). This article presents an approach to deriving NTMs which countenances both the morphemic status of the consonantal root and the emergent nature of the prosodic template. Based upon work in Kramer (2007) this “root-and-prosody” model claims that root-and-pattern behavior arises from the necessary satisfaction of prosodic markedness constraints at the expense of the faithfulness constraints Contiguity and Integrity. Additionally, this article shows that a solution exists to the problem of NTM languages within Generalized Template Theory (McCarthy & Prince, 1995) which does not need Output-Output Correspondence. In doing so, this work also argues for the extension of indexed markedness constraint (Pater, to appear) to prosodic alternations. Prosodic augmentation is shown to follow from particular rankings of such indexed prosodic markedness constraints, eliminating the need for prosodic material in the input.

    Français

    De récentes études en morphologie non-concaténative et gabaritique, dans le cadre de la Théorie de l’Optimalité, tels les systèmes verbaux de l’arabe et de l’hébreu, soutiennent que ce type de morphologie peut faire l’économie de la racine consonantique (Bat-El, 1994; Ussishkin, 1999, 2000, 2005; Buckley, 2003). Cet article propose une approche qui concilie racine consonantique et gabarit prosodique. Inspirée d’un travail de Kramer (2007), cette approche soutient que les propriétés liées traditionnellement à racine-et-schème («Root-and-Pattern») découlent de la satisfaction des contraintes de marque prosodiques, au détriment des contraintes de fidélité, notamment Contiguïté et Intégrité. L’article montre en outre que les problèmes posés par les langues à morphologie non-concaténative et gabaritique trouvent des solutions dans le cadre de la Théorie du Gabarit Généralisé («Generalized Template Theory», McCarthy & Prince, 1995) où l’économie est faite des correspondances Output-Output. Ce faisant, il argumente pour l’extension des contraintes de marque indexées («indexed markedness constraint», Pater, à paraître) aux alternances prosodiques. En particulier, il est montré que l’augmentation prosodique résulte des hiérarchisations spécifiques de ces contraintes, évitant ainsi le recours au matériel prosodique dans l’input.

    Notes

    This is a revised version of my MA thesis from UC Santa Cruz.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A. 2011. Roots and prosody: The Iraqi Arabic derivational verb. Recherches Linguistiques de Vincennes 39: Racine et Radical: pp.31-68.

  • Agreement Attraction in Nonfinite Complements. In Linguistics Research Center Lab Reports, ed. Grant McGuire: pp.24–43. Santa Cruz, CA: LRC Publications (with Matt Wagers). [link] [more]

    Abstract

    This paper reports a speeded acceptability judgment task which assess the presence or absence of agreement attraction effects (i.e., the key to the cabinets are…) in nonfinite complement TPs in English. We report a reduced ability to discriminate grammaticality from ungrammaticality in the presence of mismatching NPs preceding the infinitival verb (e.g., The decision to fail the students were difficult for the young teacher).

    Notes

    This paper was written as part of a fellowship I held in 2009 with what later became known as the UCSC Syntax, Semantics, and Language Processing Lab.

    Full Citation

    Tucker, Matthew A. & Matthew W. Wagers. Agreement attraction in nonfinite complements. In G. McGuire, editor, Linguistics Research Center Lab Reports, pp. 24-43. Santa Cruz, CA: LRC Publications.