Our theoretical and experimental research relies, on the one hand, on the expertise in linguistic theory, formal semantics, and information structure theory of the research and working teams, and, on the other hand, on deep and detailed descriptive work on a number of natural languages, namely Catalan, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, French, English, Basque, French, Greek, Russian, and Chinese.
This project aims at understanding whether specific functional categories have an inherent semantic import taking into account both theoretical and empirical perspectives. We will mainly focus on Det / Num in the nominal domain, Voice / Neg / Asp / Deg / little v in the verbal and sentential domains, and Foc / Top / Force / Voc at the information structure domain. Moreover, in addition to the theoretical investigations developed within the Generative Grammar framework, in particular a microparametric approach to the theory of language and the theory of phases, we will also follow the methodological approaches currently assumed in formal semantics and in the theory of information structure.
In line with the generative tradition, we furthermore consider that the best way to test our hypotheses is by collecting native speakers’ acceptability judgments on specific constructions. In order to do this we experimentally test our hypotheses using off-line methods, therefore focusing on the native speakers’ competence. Judgments will be obtained by means of different kinds of methodologies such as perception experiments, acceptability judgment tasks, truth-value judgments, picture-matching tasks, etc. (Ionin & Zyzyk 2014, Tonhauser & Matthewson 2015, Juzek 2016), which will allow us to test sophisticated hypotheses derived from linguistic theory. Occasionally, some online methods (cf. reaction time experiments) will be adopted in order to answer certain specific research questions.
Besides, we are interested in investigating to what extent sequences judged as (un)grammatical by native speakers, depending on the presence or absence of a morphosyntactic feature (e.g., the presence or absence of a negative marker, head of NegP), can still be interpreted by native speakers and how their interpretations differ. While we have already applied this methodology to the investigation of negative dependencies (Etxeberria, Tubau, Déprez & Espinal 2017), we will expand this line of studies to other functional projections, as we are certainly faced with a serious challenge regarding the role of functional categories at the time of utterance interpretation.
The composition and previous research experience of both the research and working team guarantees the success of the proposed research.