« I am a PhD student here in Göttingen, and together with Gurujegan Murugesan (Universität Leipzig), I am working on the DFG-Project 'Anaphora vs Agreement: Investigation the Anaphor-Agreement Effect' (DFG SU 835/1) under the supervision of Hedde Zeijlstra (Göttingen) and Sandhya Sundaresan (Leipzig).
The central research focus of this project is the 'Anaphor Agreement Effect (AAE)' -- the observation (originally due to Rizzi 1990, but updated since then) that anaphors may not trigger 'normal' (i.e. phi-covarying) verbal agreement. Languages seem to employ a variety of parametrized strategies to avoid a violation of the AAE: e.g. completely barring anaphors from agreement-triggering positions (e.g. English); having default (e.g. Italian, Albanian) or 'special' agreement (e.g. Swahili, Chichewa) triggered under the anaphor, or having the controller of agreement be anomalously shifted to some other local element (e.g. Tamil). A fundamental goal of the project is to investigate how robust the AAE really is as a crosslinguistic generalization and what its formal underpinnings are. To the extent that the AAE captures a restriction on the interaction between anaphora and phi-agreement, we also intend to exploit it to shed valuable insight into these broader phenomena -- in particular to understand how these, in turn, may be formalized in grammar.
A core part of our project will involve constructing a typological database of 30 languages, divided evenly across Göttingen and Leipzig, with varying anaphora and agreement paradigms. The PhD student in each group will be centrally involved in investigating the 15 relevant languages: i.e. cataloging their empirical behavior with respect to the AAE in the database, researching their typological connections, and developing theoretical models to account for these patterns. »