Prof. Virginia Motapanyane-Hill discusses vocatives at next DLLL lecture

University of New Brunswick Professor Virginia Motapanyane-Hill will discuss variations in vocatives in the next talk of York’s Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics Lecture Series in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics.

Her lecture, "Variations in the Internal Structure of Vocative Phrases”, will take place Thursday, March 19 at 5pm in S562 Ross Building, Keele campus.

Motapanyane-Hill says new developments in generative grammar provide the needed framework for analyzing vocatives.

“Crucially, the formalization of the impact conversational pragmatics has on the syntactic derivation allows us to see that vocative nouns go through the same derivational process as the regular nouns insofar as they are arguments of some predication and receive a case,” says Motapanyane-Hill.

Right: Virginia Motapanyane-Hill

Despite that, there are certain peculiarities in the internal structure of vocatives that do not occur in regular nouns, she says. Articles may be ungrammatical and most adjectives are excluded.

“In this talk, I will focus on the properties of vocative nouns by taking Romanian as empirical basis. For vocatives, this language displays a richer morphology than English, so it provides better clues for understanding the syntactic operations,” says Motapanyane-Hill. “My analysis is that vocative nouns saturate the hearer role in the pragmatic predication projected at the left periphery of clauses. The hearer role feature and the noun meet through the mediation of a functional element that I call (pragmatic) Role.”

Through the Romanian data, Motapanyane-Hill will show that what she calls Role has the same function as the prepositional linker "to" as in the example "to Mary", and that the vocative mirrors, in the pragmatic field, the conditions for the licensing of indirect objects in the core domain.

Motapanyane-Hill will further argue that the relation between Role and the vocative noun is such that it allows for three underlying patterns. The speaker’s option for one or another pattern depends on language register or diachronic factors.

A small reception in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics lounge will follow the presentation. All are welcome.

For more information, visit the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics event’s page.