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Clausal Complementation as a Compatibility Relation

Ken Safir, Rutgers University

March 4, 2020 · 4:30 pm · 1-S-5 Green Hall

Program in Linguistics

It is commonly assumed that verbs that take clausal complements select the complement clause types that they can co-occur with. This talk challenges that assumption. Some sorts of clause types (different ones in different languages) are rigid in their meanings, which is to say that the sorts of meanings that they introduce, e.g., deontic modality or conditionality, do not vary across the predicates they appear with. It could thus be said that these clausal types select the predicates that they can appear with, which reverses what is usually thought about the predicate/complement relation.

Ken Safir is a Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at Rutgers University where he has taught for 35 years and where he founded the Department of Linguistics. Throughout his career, has been a frequent contributor to the literature in syntactic theory, the syntax-semantics interface, theoretically informed comparative syntax and morphosyntax. A great deal of his work has explored the syntactic representation of bound variables and patterns of anaphora, but in recent years, he has turned increasingly to the distribution of clausal complementation from a crosslinguistic perspective. He has written on many sorts of languages, but most of his work has been on Indo-Eurpoean and Niger-Congo languages. For the last 17 years he has been the director of the NSF-supported Afranaph Project, which explores the languages of Africa in collaboration with native-speaker linguist consultants. Prof. Safir is frequently invited to address forums on online data access, as all the data collected by Afranaph from the 40+ languages it covers is freely shared as part of an open access database that is used worldwide.

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