We are happy to announce a talk by Andrew Murphy (Universität Potsdam) in the Syntax Colloquium.

The talks will take place in person. Room IG 4.301

Date: November 13, 2023

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

Title: “Case-Conditioned Allomorphy in Bidhaawyeet”


Case-Conditioned Allomorphy in Bidhaawyeet

Much previous work on contextual allomorphy has focused on the question of locality: How structurally distant may the target and trigger of a ‘special form’ (or allomorph) be? A claim that emerges from Bobaljik’s (2012) seminal study of suppletion in comparative constructions is that the complex word (maximal X0) is the delimiting domain for allomorphy. This is motivated by the absence of root suppletion in periphrastic comparatives. This claim has proven controversial, however, as it has been argued that this domain is insufficient for allomorphy that is apparently conditioned by an argument (Toosarvandani 2016; Bobaljik & Harley 2017; Weisser 2019).

In this talk, we present novel data from the Cushitic language Bidhaawyeet (also known as Beja), spoken in Sudan, Egypt and Eritrea. In Bidhaawyeet, the form of object clitics is conditioned by multiple complex factors: Inside relative clauses, the form of an object clitic is sensitive to the case and number of the head noun (an apparent case of radically non-local allomorphy). Elsewhere, the form of the clitic appears to be conditioned by clause type, with distinct forms in matrix clauses vs. various subordinate clause types. In addition, these forms also surface as possessive markers inside noun phrases. We will show that the complex distribution of object clitic forms can receive a unified analysis in terms of local allomorphy conditioned by case/number features within the same complex head. On the basis of periphrastic constructions, we will show that being in a head-local relation to the trigger is crucial for allomorphic conditioning, thereby supporting Bobaljik’s original conclusions about the correct domain for allomorphic conditioning.