Kelsey Sasaki

Hawai'i Creole: Predicate Initiality

I am currently investigating predicate initiality in Hawai'i Creole. The language has dominant SVO word order, but allows certain adjectival predicates to appear sentence-initially in neutral, non-focus contexts. For instance, in Hawai'i Creole one can say either Nice, her or She nice to mean 'She's nice.' This project has two main goals. One is to develop a syntactic analysis of these constructions, and in so doing to determine how their syntax differs from that of focus-fronting in Hawai'i Creole. The other goal is to determine the semantic conditions that dictate which predicates can be sentence-initial in neutral contexts, and to analyze how those conditions interact with the syntax.

Santiago Laxopa Zapotec: Verb Initiality, Attitudes, and Adverbials

Since March 2016, I have been conducting fieldwork on Santiago Laxopa Zapotec (SLZ), an Oto-Manguean language spoken in the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca, Mexico. In a collaborative project with Jeff Adler, Steven Foley, Jed Pizarro-Guevara, and Maziar Toosarvandani, we are investigating the derivation of verb-initiality in SLZ. We draw on evidence from adverb placement, copular clauses, and light verb constructions--generously shared by speakers in Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and Laxopa itself--to argue that it is predicate-raising, not verb-raising, that yields the verb-initiality of SLZ. I have also investigated the inventory of attitude predicates and their behavior with Tom Roberts, and am currently exploring SLZ wh-questions and adverbial elements.