research

I’m most interested in syntax, language acquisition, and semantics. Although I’m genuinely interested in most domains of inquiry. For example, I’ve also worked on issues of learnability in the phonotactic domain.

Below you’ll find a selected list of some of my research projects. Things that are not listed here but that are listed on my CV are available upon request.

Reevaluating the Maratsos Effect

  • Collaborators: Tess Huelskamp, Susima Weerakoon, and Alan Munn
  • Keywords: acquisition syntax
  • Output: This project is currently being written up. Older versions are available upon request.
  • Overview: Maratsos et al. (1985) found that children were later in acquiring the passives of “nonactional” verbs than passives of “actional” verbs; this has since been robustly replicated in the literature and has come to be known as the Maratsos Effect. Looking back at the literature, we question whether the “nonactional” class of verbs was ever a linguistically homogenous class. Based on verbal diagnostics for agentivity and eventivity, the “nonactional” class of verbs that have been tested can be shown to be quite heterogenous, consisting of both nonagentive eventive verbs and nonagentive noneventive (i.e., stative) verbs. We report two suggesting that the Maratsos Effect depends on agentivity, not eventivity.

Obligatory number and plural morphology

  • Collaborators: Chris Heffner, Tess Huelskamp, and Cristina Schmitt
  • Keywords: semantics number language universals artificial language learning
  • Output: This project has resulted in 2 publications.
    • doi   pdf
      Liter, Adam, Tess Huelskamp, Christopher C. Heffner & Cristina Schmitt. 2018. Grammaticalized number, implicated presuppositions, and the plural. Glossa 3(1): Acquisition of quantification. Magda Oiry (ed.)
    • doi
      Liter, Adam, Christopher C. Heffner & Cristina Schmitt. 2017. The interpretation of plural morphology and (non-)obligatory number marking: An argument from artificial language learning. Language Learning and Development 13(4). 451–480.
  • Overview: Languages like English allow inclusive interpretations (‘one or more’) of plural morphology in downward entailing contexts. For example, there are not books on the table is false even if there is one book on the table. Other languages, such as Korean, require exclusive interpretations (‘more than one’) even in downward entailing contexts. We investigate whether these differeing interpretations are mere historical accidents or actually follow from properties of the grammar. With data from two artificial langueage learning experiments, we provide suggestive evidence that non-obligatory number marking necessarily precludes inclsuive interpretations of the plural morpheme.