By Andries W. Coetzee
Mar 24, 2013
Graduate students Tim Chou and Sujeewa Hettiarachchi gave a presentation at Formal Approaches to South Asian Languages III (FASAL III) on March 10. FASAL is the premier conference that focuses on the formal analyses of South Asian languages, and attracts linguists from across the US and abroad. This year's conference was hosted by the University of Southern California, and featured over 30 presentations on topics ranging from syntactic movement in Dravidian languages, to the language contact situation in Hyderabad, to the semantics of questions in Bangla, and more.
Tim and Sujeewa's presentation was titled "On Sinhala Involitives and Case Marking". They argue that, counter to earlier claims in the literature, Sinhala subject case assignment is not entirely determined by the semantic notion of the (in-)volatility of the verb. Specifically, they claim that it is necessary to distinguish between syntactically determined structural case and semantically determined inherent case in Sinhala. Relying on previously unnoticed data, they show that only involitive verbs assign inherent case to their subjects, whereas nominative case is structural case valued by a finite T. The handout for their presentation is available here.