Issues in the Morphology, Syntax, and Semantics
of Oneida (Iroquoian)

Instructor(s): Jean-Pierre Koenig and Karin Michelson

In this co-taught course, we look in detail at the issues raised by polysynthesis, or non-configurationality, from the perspective of Iroquoian, and in particular Oneida. On the descriptive side, we aim to give students an overview of the morphological and syntactic characteristics of Oneida. On the theoretical side, we discuss topics such as: (i) argument realization, (ii) the lexical category and argument structure of kinship terms, (iii) the interpretation of pronominal prefixes in non-configurational languages, (iv) noun incorporation, and (v) compositional semantics. We will also discuss to what extent the syntax-semantics of Oneida challenges standard assumptions about universals of argument realization, semantic compositionality, or quantification. Finally, on the methodological side, we will attempt to show how careful fieldwork and reliable descriptive generalizations can inform theoretical issues but also the extent to which theorizing can, sometimes, be difficult or even impossible if obtaining the requisite data is methodologically questionable.

Some familiarity with morphological analysis, and a basic course in syntactic theory.