Publications

In Press
M.Polinsky. Looking ahead. In: Advances in Spanish as a Heritage Language. John Benjamins ; In Press.PDF icon pascual_chapter.for_website.pdf
Fukuda S, Nakao C, Omaki A, Polinsky M. Revisiting Subject-Object Asymmetry: Subextraction in Japanese. Formal Approaches to Altaic Linguistics (WAFL). In Press;10.Abstract

This paper investigates cross-linguistic variation in extractability out of subjects. Our new acceptability judgment experiment, which controlled for a ‘long-before-short’ preference in Japanese, shows that Japanese subjects are as transparent to extraction as objects. Based on this finding, we classify languages into three subtypes with respect to subject opacity: (a) languages in which subjects are never transparent (English), (b) languages in which only in situ subjects are transparent (Russian, German), and (c) languages in which subjects are always transparent (Japanese). To account for these data, we offer a preliminary formal analysis that links this typology to the existence of subject Agreement and the EPP: (a) languages where subjects undergo Agreement and EPP movement, (b) languages where subjects only undergo Agreement, and (c) languages where subjects do not undergo either operation.

PDF icon wafl_final_version.pdf
Polinsky M, Radkevich N, Chumakina M. Agreement between arguments? Not really. In: Verbal domain. ; In Press.Abstract

We present and analyze novel data on the northeast Caucasian language Archi illustrating a typologically unusual phenomenon of apparent agreement between 1st person pronouns and absolutive-marked arguments. Apart from their typological significance, these facts challenge current approaches to agreement, which hold that Agree relations can be established only between heads and phrases. The apparent agreement between a 1st person pronoun and an absolutive DP can be reduced to a more conventional agreement, namely, agreement between the absolutive DP and a series of v heads. We show that Archi has a contrast between strong and weak pronouns; the latter lack noun-class feature specification and must therefore copy a class feature from the closest v. In addition, Archi has complex pronouns (1st person inclusive) which are composed of  1st person exclusive pronouns and the focus marker -ejt’u. This focus marker is a D head which requires a noun-class feature and copies that feature from the closest v head. 

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Laleko O, Polinsky M. Between syntax and discourse: Topic and case marking in heritage speakers and L2 learners of Japanese and Korean. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism. In Press.Abstract

This article examines the knowledge of topic and subject particles in heritage speakers and L2 learners of Japanese and Korean. We assume that topic marking is mediated at the syntax-information structure interface, while subject marking pertains to narrow syntax. In comparing phenomena mediated at different levels of linguistic organization, we provide evidence for the hypothesis that information structure-level phenomena present greater challenges for bilingual speakers than those mediated within syntax. While these results may be interpreted as evidence of generalized interface-related deficits, we show that such a global explanation is not supported. Instead, a more nuanced account is developed, based on the recognition of different types of topic (anaphoric, generic, and contrastive) and different types of subject (descriptive and exhaustive). Under the proposed account, the non-native speakers’ deficits follow from three unrelated effects: the status of topic as an interface category, structural complexity, and the memory demands necessary for its interpretation in context.

PDF icon lab_revision_final_march_15_edited_march_30.pdf
M.Polinsky. Antipassive. In: Handbook of ergativity. ; In Press.PDF icon antipassive_new.pdf
Polinsky M. Agreement in Archi from a minimalist perspective. In: Archi: complexities of agreement in cross-theoretical perspective. ; In Press.PDF icon archi_minimalist_chapter.pdf
Longenbaugh N, Polinsky M. Experimental approaches to ergative languages. In: ; In Press.PDF icon oup_chapter.pdf
Polinsky M, Potsdam E. Austronesian syntax. In: Oceania. Berlin: Mouton ; In Press.PDF icon a_syntactic_overview_of_austronesian_languages.010213.pdf
Clemens LE, Polinsky M. Verb-initial word orders (primarily in Austronesian and Mayan languages). In: The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, 2 edition. ; In Press.Abstract
This chapter presents several approaches to the syntax of verb-initial (V1) languages with a special emphasis on Mayan and Austronesian languages. Some V1 languages are strictly VSO, others are VOS, and a significant number combine both orders. This chapter focuses on data from VSO/VOS languages and the factors that underlie these alternations. A number of V1 languages can be more adequately characterized as predicate-initial, with V1 being just a subset of clause-initial predicates. The chapter presents a number of structural properties that are or may be associated with V1 and discusses possible implicational relations between such properties and V1. While there are certain common characteristics observed across V1 languages, it is also clear that there are several distinct subtypes of V1. These subtypes call for different syntactic analyses; main approaches include the derivation of V1 via phrasal movement (VP-raising) and its derivation via head-movement (verb-raising). Other syntactic approaches to the derivation of V1 include the parametrization of specifier direction within a single language, non-configurational syntax, and subject lowering. In addition to these purely syntactic analyses, several recent approaches place the derivation of V1 outside syntax or at the syntax-PF interface. Careful, in-depth analyses of individual languages are required to test the different approaches to V1; in quite a few cases such analyses are still lacking.
PDF icon v1_syncom.pdf
Polinsky M. Syntactic ergativity. In: The Blackwell Companion to Syntax, 2 edition. ; In Press.PDF icon syncom_serevised.jan_14.pdf
Scontras G, Tsai E, Mai K, Polinsky M. Revisiting inverse scope: an experimental study of Chinese and English. Sinn un Bedeutung 18. In Press.PDF icon chinese_scope_sub.pdf
2015
G.Scontras, Fuchs Z, M.Polinsky. Heritage language and linguistic theory. Frontiers in Psychology. Language Sciences [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionPDF icon fpsyg-06-01545.pdf
Fuchs Z, G.Scontras, M.Polinsky. The Differential Representation of Number and Gender in Spanish. The Linguistic Review. 2015.Abstract

This paper investigates the geometry of phi-features with a special

emphasis on number and gender in Spanish. We address (i) whether number

and gender evidence single- or multi-valued systems for their respective

features, and (ii) whether number and gender are bundled together or split.

Given the lack of consensus on these issues based on primary data, we approach

these questions experimentally, using the phenomenon of agreement

attraction: a situation in which ungrammatical sequences are perceived as

grammatical when one of the NPs is erroneously identified as determining

agreement. Our results indicate that number but not gender in Spanish is

multi-valued and offer novel support in favor of an agreement model in which

number and gender are in separte projections and are valued independently.

We also offer some considerations concerning parametric variation in such

valuation.

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Polinsky M. Heritage languages and their speakers: State of the field, challenges, perspectives for future work, and methodologies. Zeitschrift fuer Fremdsprachwissenschaft. 2015;26 :7-27.PDF icon heritage_paper_new.pdf
Polinsky M. Tsez Syntax: A Description. Manuscript.; 2015.Abstract

A description of Tsez syntax, created as part of the volume “A Grammar of Tsez” prepared by Bernard Comrie and myself. Because this work is still a draft, chapters are not numbered, and each chapter has its own example numbering. I am posting it now in hopes of getting comments, criticisms, and suggestions before the description is sent to the publishers.

PDF icon polinsky_15_tsez-syntax-a.5_2.pdf
Boon E, Polinsky M. From silence to voice: Empowering heritage language speakers in the 21 century. Informes del Observatorio / Observatorio’s Report. 2015;(2).PDF icon 002_informes_mp_from-silence.corrected.pdf
Polinsky M. When L1 becomes an L3: Assessing grammatical knowledge in heritage speakers/learners. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. 2015;18 :163-178.PDF icon offprint.pdf
Clemens LE, Coon J, Mateo Pedro P, Morgan AM, Polinsky M, Tandet G, Wagers M. Ergativity and the complexity of extraction: A view from Mayan. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory [Internet]. 2015;33 :417-469. Publisher's VersionPDF icon complete_draft.final_.082113.pdf
2014
Polinsky M, Radkevich N. Biabsolutives in Archi, in LSA 88. Minneapolis, MN ; 2014.PDF icon lsa_handout.latest.pdf
Fuchs Z, Polinsky M, G.Scontras. The Differential Representation of Number and Gender in Spanish, in GLOW 37. Brussels ; 2014.PDF icon glow37.pdf

Pages