BLS

I was slack about blogging during BLS, mostly because I was busy catching up with old friends. Kudos to the organisers for a great conference. [incidentally, kudos is always singular for me, and the final s is voiceless.]
As expected, it was a conference heavy on talks about argument structure. This wasn’t just because of the special session on argument structure; many of the talks in the Oceania session involved argument structure too, including Andy Pawley’s plenary on Kalam complex predicates (and mine, on Bardi complex predicates).

As usual at BLS, there were some weird and wonderful data papers, including the miraculous case of Tarascan body part suffixes used to mark spatial location on verbs, and the 3 causative markers of interior Tsimshanian. There was also an interesting paper on Sakha (Yakut) which claimed that the common Turkic verbal suffix -la has in this language come to be a light verb involved in phrasal incorporation. The claim was that -LAA has been reanalysed as a verb, and the item that it attaches to is phrasal, and the result looks very much like noun incorporation. I wasn’t completely convinced, not least because there wasn’t a great deal of evidence that LAA is behaving like a verb, and there wasn’t that much phrasal evidence that the noun (or DP, actually) is incorporated. But it’ll be nice to see this written up and argued in more detail. I also enjoyed Erich Round’s paper on Tangkic absolutive marking. He argued that the absolutive case in nuclear Tangkic is the relic of phrase-final truncation (that is, that the marker is what was left from the environments where truncation didn’t take place), and the phonologically conditioned variants are generalisations from some high-frequency nouns. And Mark Donohue gave a nice paper about a pair of Papuan languages (Skou and One) where there are severe restrictions on the number of adjuncts available in a clause.
There were 2 talks on evidence for Oceania and Australia/PGN as macro-areas. Ian Maddieson talked about distinctive aspects of phonological systems in Oceania, such as the number of languages which lack fricatives, and the prevalence of large numbers of coronal distinctions. Johanna Nichols and Balthazzar Bickel gave a paper about features which identify a Pacific Rim “macro-area” (ie features which are found only (or largely) in this area, either to the exclusion of other parts of the world or much more frequently in this part of the world.

That’s all for now, I’ll do a later post on the plenaries.

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