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160153 PS Introductory seminar in this subject area (2019W)

Exfoliation and its implications for case, binding phenomena, tense interpretation and more

Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first serve).


max. 40 participants
Language: German, English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Friday 10.01. 13:00 - 16:00 Seminarraum 3 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Saturday 11.01. 13:00 - 16:00 Seminarraum 3 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Monday 13.01. 18:00 - 21:00 Seminarraum 2 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Tuesday 14.01. 15:30 - 17:15 Seminarraum 3 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Wednesday 15.01. 13:00 - 16:00 Seminarraum 8 Sensengasse 3a 5.OG
Thursday 16.01. 10:00 - 13:00 Seminarraum 3 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG
Thursday 16.01. 17:00 - 20:00 Seminarraum 8 Sensengasse 3a 5.OG
Friday 17.01. 10:00 - 13:00 Seminarraum 3 Sensengasse 3a 1.OG


Aims, contents and method of the course

Why do clauses come in different sizes and flavors: finite vs. non-finite, introduced by a
complementizer vs. complementizerless, nominal vs non-nominal, etc.? The impetus for the
class is a new proposal advanced and explored in Pesetsky (2019). This work posits that many of
these distinctions are not the result of distinct morpho-lexical material chosen for clause building
(the standard theory in almost all frameworks), but instead are the consequence of a derivational
process of "Exfoliation" that strips away one or more outer layers of a clause as a precondition
for extraction of its subject.
This proposal, though new in a modern syntactic context, is actually a revival of the oldest
proposals in generative grammar. In a modern setting, however, has implications for many of
the most central topics in the theory of syntax.
This class will familiarize students with several of these topics in a manner accessible to
intermediate as well as advanced syntax students: the history of discussion as well as the ways in
which the Exfoliation proposal suggests new possibilities and conclusions. These topics will
(1) debates over nominal case (where it comes from and why it exists in the first place)
(2) subject/non-subject extraction asymmetries (why they are ubiquitous but not uniform across
(3) special restrictions on nominative reflexives, the so-called Anaphor-Agreement effect
(likewise ubiquitous, and likewise not uniform across languages)
(4) correlations between finiteness and tense interpretation - how and why non-finite clauses
receive interpretations distinct from finite counterparts (and how and why they vary among
(Topic 4 represents the instructor's first attempts to integrate the proposals and discoveries
reported over the last decade of research by Wurmbrand.)

Assessment and permitted materials

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Students should submit a short paper (3-5 pages) that offers between 1 and 3 questions or
observations relevant to topics discussed in the class. Explain in each case why the question or
observation is interesting, and explore possible answers or solutions. Longer papers are
acceptable, but the questions should be contentful and specific, concerning actual empirical
puzzles raised by the class.

Examination topics

Reading list

Because this is a short 8-day class, no reading will have the status of required reading. But it
would be extremely useful to read as much of the first paper below as possible, and to at least
have a look at the remaining readings before class. Readings will be posted on a class website
whose URL will be announced no less than two weeks before the first class.
relevant throughout the class:
Pesetsky, David. 2019. Exfoliation: Towards a Derivational Theory of Clause Size.

Association in the course directory


Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:20