“The Syntax and Semantics of Unrealized Action: Evidence from Anii”
Dr. Frances Blanchette, Assistant Research Professor of Psychology, Assistant Director of the Center for Language Science & Dr. Deborah Morton, Assistant Teaching Professor of Linguistics and African Studies
Friday, November 11, 9:00–10:30 a.m. EDT, 127 Moore Building and virtually via Zoom
The notion of unrealized action, often called “irrealis” in the linguistics literature, plays relatively little role in the overt syntax and semantics of most well-studied languages like English. However, in many languages, this notion plays a prominent role in the grammar. Gιsιɖa Anii, spoken in West Africa, is one such language. In this presentation we will illustrate how irrealis functions in Anii grammar, and describe an analysis that explains why it must appear in certain types of sentences in this language. We then discuss broader implications, including the role of unrealized action as a fundamental semantic concept that plays an important role in natural language, even in languages that do not express it overtly.