Unifying canonical, historical, and play-by-play present

With Pranav Anand. To appear in Sinn und Bedeutung, 21.

While the present tense is typically taken to index the reference time to the time of utterance, such a restriction cannot capture noncanonical uses of the present in English, such as the historical present or play-by-play present. We adopt a bicontextual semantics for present tense, in which the two time coordinates are mediated by pragmatics, allowing us to bring canonical, narrative, and play-by-play uses under a single denotation. Moreover, we show that such a treatment can also capture the novel observation that the historical use of the present tense can "anchor" the past perfect, while its other two uses cannot.

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No explanation for in the historical present: Temporal sequencing and discourse

With Pranav Anand. To appear in Sinn und Bedeutung, 22.

Discourses in the historical (or narrative) use of the simple present in English prohibit backshifting, though they allow forward sequencing. Unlike both reference time theories and discourse coherence theories of these temporal inferences, we propose that backshifting has a different source from narrative progression. In particular, we argue that backshifting arises through anaphora to a salient event in the preceding discourse.

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Pronoun movement and probe generosity

With Steven Foley.

If elements move to satisfy the needs of a probe, as in a theory of attraction, why can more than one element move? Looking at clitic pronouns, we advance a view of this probe generosity motivated by the same economy considerations underlying the Principle of Minimal Compliance (Richards 1997, 1998): once the probe has its needs satisfied by the highest goal, as locality requires, it is free to interact with other goals just in case they would not have done a better job of satisfying those needs. This accounts for a particularly rich system of pronominal cliticization in several Sierra Zapotec languages (Oto-Manguean: Oaxaca), in which movement is restricted both by the Person–Case Constraint (PCC; Perlmutter 1971, Bonet 1991) and by hierarchy-sensitive constraints based on gender. It allows also for a principled understanding of the attested crosslinguistic variation in what might be called, more generally, Phi–Case Constraints (ΦCCs). These form a tightly constrained typology, whose highly asymmetrical shape derives from the cyclic probing enabled by economy-driven probe generosity.

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Gender-Case Constraints in Zapotec

With Steven Foley and Nick Kalivoda. To appear in Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas (WSCLA) 22.

Person-Case Constraints (PCCs) prohibit certain combinations of clitic arguments based on their person features. We show that PCCs are mirrored in the domain of gender, drawing on data from several Zapotec varieties. These Gender-Constraint Constraints (GCCs) operate over a four-way gender distinction rather than a three-way person distinction, providing a clearer picture of how these constraints can vary across languages. In particular, we identify three crosslinguistic generalizations over the attested PCCs and GCCs, which can only be accounted for by a theory of clitic licensing in which more than one clitic can enter into an Agree relation with the probe (e.g. Anagnostopoulou 2005, Nevins 2007, 2011).

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Forbidden clitic clusters in Zapotec

With Steven Foley and Nick Kalivoda. To appear in Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS) 53.

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To appear in The Oxford handbook of ellipsis, Jeroen van Craenenbroeck and Tanja Temmerman, eds.

There are elliptical constructions in Persian whose properties diverge from their better studied counterparts in other languages. A type of verb phrase ellipsis removes the nonverbal element and internal arguments of a complex predicate, though it can also strand a simple verb. Sluicing is derived through an information-structural movement operation, since the language does not have obligatory wh-movement. Gapping, stripping, and fragment answers may arise from the same operation: gapping and stripping allow for their antecedent to be embedded, and stripping and fragment answers are insensitive to island constraints.

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