Ling-Lunch 11/21- Omer Preminger

When: Wednesday 11/21 12:35–1:35 in room 117

Who: Omer Preminger (Syracuse U)

What: The directionality of agreement: Evidence from partial agreement

Abstract: Recent times have seen a (re)enlivening of the debate regarding the directionality of morphosyntactic agreement relations (Baker 2008, 2011; Bejar & Rezac 2009; Carstens 2012; Koopman 2006; Pesetsky & Torrego 2007; Preminger 2012; Wurmbrand in prep.; Zeijlstra 2012; inter alia). The issue, broadly speaking, concerns whether the element contributing the valued (“meaningful”) features in an agreement relation should be structurally higher, or structurally lower, than the element to which these values are contributed.

Partial agreement refers to configurations in which agreement in the full set of phi-features (person, number, gender/noun-class) is impossible, and only agreement in a subset of these features goes through. Classic examples include the Person Case Constraint (a.k.a. the “me-lui” constraint), but also the cross-linguistically common effects of subject-verb inversion on agreement (e.g. in Romance and Semitic languages).

I will show that the distribution and behavior of partial agreement provide an argument in favor of the more established conception of agreement — where the contributor of values must be located below the recipient of values — rather than the inverted model proposed in more recent work (Wurmbrand in prep.; Zeijlstra 2012; see also Koopman 2006). Data from Basque, Icelandic, Hebrew, Nahuatl, and other languages will be brought to bear on this issue.

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