The Syntax of Nominal Linkers

Project description

This is a five-year SSHRC-funded project whose goal is to investigate the syntax of nominal linkers across languages. A well-known example of such linkers is the Persian Ezafe, which links the noun with its modifiers in an iterative manner: N-Ez Mod1-Ez Mod2-Ez. Starting with the better-studied Persian case known as the Ezafe, in its first stage, the project takes on a systematic comparative investigation of several Iranian languages to establish the properties nominal linkers in each of these languages possess. With the backdrop of the microvariationist study of nominal linkers in Iranian languages, in the second stage of the project, the investigation will be extended to a macro-level by exploring a number of non-Iranian languages, including those for which the existence of nominal linkers has already been noted as well as new ones. The project has three goals: first, to build the first cross-linguistic database of linkers spanning broad areal and genetic classifications; second, to provide a cross-classification of nominal linkers based on a detailed study of their properties in these languages; third, to enhance our understanding of the syntax of linkers and thereby facilitate a deeper understanding of the structure of noun phrases and the architecture of grammar.

Project team

Songül Gündoğdu

Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Postdoctoral Fellow in Iranian Linguistics

Dr. Songül Gündoğdu received her MA and PhD in Linguistics from the Department of Linguistics at Boğaziçi University in Turkey. In her doctoral thesis, she investigated the event structure and argument structure of simplex and complex predicates in Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji) with a specific emphasis on the syntax of different types of arguments (e.g. postverbal goals, adpositional objects and nominal element of certain noun-verb complex predicates). Her main areas of research interest are morphosyntactic aspects of Iranian languages – specifically Kurdish, such as the Ezafe constructions in Iranian languages, case and ergativity, argument structure and negation. She conducted joint research on the comparative analysis of linking markers in Kurmanji and Turkish, and has presented two papers on the same topic so far. She is a native speaker of Kurmanji and Turkish, and she is fluent in English.

Songül Gündoğdu

The postdoctoral fellowship is made possible with funds from SSHRC and Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute.

RCHI is a private foundation dedicated to promoting the preservation, transmission and instruction of Persian language and culture around the world. The expression Roshan in Persian literally means “clear” or “bright” and its true meaning is associated with “light” connected to the concepts of clarity and enlightenment. This word embodies the guiding principle behind RCHI’s mission of addressing the importance of Persian culture and achieving understanding through education and community involvement. Under the leadership and vision of its founder and chair, Dr. Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali, RCHI has provided millions of US dollars in endowments, grants and fellowships in support of Persian-related educational and cultural activities at some of the most esteemed universities and museums in the United States and throughout the world, including the University of Toronto.

Dr. Mir-DjalaliA native of Iran, Dr. Mir-Djalali holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Sorbonne in Paris, as well as two Master’s degrees, one from the Sorbonne and the other from Georgetown University in Washington D.C, where she taught French language. She also taught Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and spent nearly 15 years of volunteered work translating texts of Sufi masters, from Persian into French and English. In 2000, she founded Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute to establish and support academic and cultural programs that improve understanding across borders and focus on nurturing a new generation of educators, in order to preserve the transmission and instruction of Persian language and culture. In 2018, the Ministry of Culture in France bestowed upon Dr. Mir-Djalali the title of Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres­–one of France’s most prestigious awards–in recognition of her lifelong and significant contributions to Persian arts and culture in France and around the world.

Research Assistants

Sahar Taghipour

Sagar Taghipour
I am currently doing my third year of PhD in linguistics. My primary interest is in the domain of morphology, syntax and their interface. I have been primarily working on the morphosyntax of an Iranian language, Laki (Southern Kurdish) with the special focus on its agreement pattern in the nominal and verbal domains. Recently, by the application of various psycholinguistics methodologies, designs and skills, I have widened my research area to the domain of processing. As a graduate research assistant, it is my second year of being engaged with the Linker project. The aim of our project is to find a variety of existing patterns of linkers across Iranian languages and ultimately provide accounts and generalization for them.

Jean-François Juneau

Jean-François Juneau
I am currently finishing my third year as a PhD student at U of T. I work primarily on Kartvelian languages (Georgian, Svan, Megrelian/Laz), especially on their verbal morphosyntax: argument structures, applicatives, and internal aspect marking. For the Linker Project, I use my connection to Georgia and the Caucasus to document the Iranian languages of the region to better understand ‘ezafe-like’ constructions. I research mainly through the Russian and Georgian literature for the Ossetian language (Georgia/Russia), and in the near future I will proceed in a similar way for Juhuri (Azerbaijan/Israel) and Azeri Tat (Azerbaijan).

Sadaf Kalami

Sadaf Kalami
I’m currently doing my master’s degree at U of T. My major interest is in syntax and morphology, especially those of Iranian languages. I’m currently working on syntactic structure of the determiner phrase in Kurdish. I’m also engaged with the Linker project as a research assistant, trying to gather the data from different varieties of Kurdish and to provide an analysis for the patterns of Linkers in Kurdish.

Andrew Peters

Andrew Peters
I am a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying the syntax and semantics of tense and aspect in relation to the event structure of complex predicates, converbs and causative structures. I work primarily on Southern Mongolian, but have done related work on Malagasy and Mandarin. For the Linker Project, I work on Zazaki, an Iranian language spoken in the Kurdish Zone in Eastern Turkey. I am also interested in the deeper questions about why languages require linkers and what a more fulsome investigation of the syntax and semantics of nominal modification can tell us.

Marcel den Dikken, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Monica Irimia, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia
Diane Massam, University of Toronto
Ur Shlonsky, Université de Genève
Umit Atlamaz, Facebook Reality Labs
Mansour Shabani, Guilan University