My theoretical research aims to understand the range of syntactic variation in the world's languages, specifically in the realm of case, movement, ellipsis, and agreement. Much of my work focuses on Nukuoro, a Polynesian Outlier language of Micronesia.
CASE AND ERGATIVITY
Can case exist without morphological realization? Do nominals need to be licensed? I argue that the answer to both of these questions is yes, supporting a syntactic model that includes both abstract Case and a Case filter. Nukuoro has no morphological realization of case, yet shows restrictions on the distribution of nominals indicative of abstract Case licensing. Additionally, Nukuoro shows a pattern of syntactic ergativity in A'-movement, providing further support for abstract ergative Case. Nukuoro constitutes a counterexample to the widely-held generalization that syntactic ergativity must co-occur with morphological ergative case.
- Drummond 2022. Abstract ergative Case without morphological case. NELS 52.
- Drummond 2021. Syntactic ergativity without morphological ergativity: An argument for abstract Case. LSA 95.
Some syntactic phenomena, like argument structure and voice, require identity between the antecedent and the ellipsis site. However, I show that argument extraction restrictions, like restrictions on the movement of ergatives, do not constrain ellipsis in the same way. I argue that this behavior requires a unified account: we could say that argument extraction restrictions are salvaged by deletion, with ungrammaticality arising at PF; alternatively, we could say that ellipsis doesn't involve movement all, and is instead constrained by the availability of an unbound indefinite correlate.
- Drummond 2022. Argument extraction restrictions do not constrain sluicing. WCCFL 40.
- Drummond 2021. Maintaining syntactic identity under sluicing: Pseudoclefts and voice (mis)matches. WCCFL 39, AFLA 28.
AGREEMENT AND PERSON RESTRICTIONS
Many languages show a restriction on person combinations in ditransitives (the Person-Case Constraint; PCC), which is typically analyzed using probe specifications in the syntax. In joint work with Zachary O'Hagan and Madeline Bossi, we bring to light two languages that show unusual person restrictions (banning only local>local), which we argue are derived in the morphology rather than in the syntax. We then outline a predictive typology of the PCC, suggesting that morphological restrictions will give rise to bans on combinations of similar arguments, while syntactic restrictions will give rise to hierarchical bans (like *3>local).
- Drummond and O'Hagan 2020. Morphological and syntactic person restrictions in Caquinte. NELS 50.
- Bossi Drummond, and O'Hagan 2020. Two case studies in morphological person restrictions. CamCoS 9.