Michael Diercks, Pomona College

Thursday, January 24th, 12 noon, Humanities 1 Building, Room 210

The Great Escape: Raising out of finite clauses in Bantu languages    

(Joint work with Vicki Carstens)

0. Introduction

On the familiar story (Chomsky 1981, Chomsky 2001), in raising constructions the DP subject is licensed via Agree with a finite T, so raising is only possible out of a non-­finite clause, as this is a non-­licensing context:

1. a.   It seems [that John is sick]
    b. *It seems [John to be sick]
    c.   John seems [ __ to be sick]
    d. *John seems [that __ is sick]

The raising operation in (d) can be argued to be ruled out on a variety of grounds, including constraints on Case, agreement, and illicit A-movement over a phase boundary (cf. Nevins 2004). Contrary to the familiar pattern in (1), however, many Bantu languages exhibit raising out of a finite lower clause:

a. Ka‐lolekhana (mbo) babaandu ba-kwa                 [Lubukusu]
    6SA-­seem    (that) 2people    2SA.PAST‐fall
    ‘It seems that the people fell.’

b. Babaandu ba‐lolekhana (mbo) ba‐kwa
    2people    2SA-­seem    (that) 2SA.PAST-­fall
   ‘The people seem like they fell/The people seem to have fallen.’  

We refer to this kind of raising construction as  hyper-­raising,  borrowing the term from Nunes (2008). We show that hyper‐raising (and related constructions) are unmarked constructions in Bantu languages, including examples from Lubukusu, Lusaamia, Digo, Shona, and Zulu. A number of questions arise due to these constructions, summarized with a preview of our responses:

  1. Q. Is this actually raising?

    A. Yes. Evidence includes scope readings, idiomatic constructions, and contrasts with other similar constructions like copy-­raising and super­‐raising.

  2. Q. How is movement possible after the DP’s Case is presumably checked in the lower clause?

    A. Hyper­‐raising is at home among a family of constructions in Bantu languages where DP distribution is distinct from what is expected according to standard Case Theory: there are existing proposals addressing these facts (Diercks 2012, Harford Perex 1985).

  3. Q. How is it possible to Agree with the same DP multiple times, when the DP should have been deactivated?

    A. As with the previous question, this kind of hyper‐agreement is quite common among Bantu languages, for which there already exist independent proposals (Carstens 2011).

  4. Q. How is it possible to A-­move out of finite clauses?

    A. We propose that that A-­movement out of CP does exist, but is epiphenomenal, made possible by different mechanisms in different instances (e.g. Rackowski and Richards 2005, Halpert 2012, Hicks 2009, Cable 2010).

5. Summary

The answers to each of these questions will receive different levels of attention in this talk, with the empirical argumentation to answer #1 taking most of our time. The documentation of these facts therefore makes an empirical contribution to our knowledge of both the typology of raising constructions as well as the distribution of DPs crosslinguistically, with their analysis enriching our understanding of core architectural questions like agreement, Case‐licensing, and phase boundaries.