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Seminar Series: "The syntactic and postsyntatic derivation of agreement: Basque and beyond"

W.T. Young Library 2-34A (Active Learning Classroom)
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s):
Dr. Karlos Arregi (University of Chicago)

Recent work on agreement has uncovered evidence that morphological properties of sentences (such as syncretism) interact in non-trivial ways with agreement relations. In this talk, I provide an analysis of this type of interaction between morphology and agreement in terms of a two-step theory of agreement. Adopting the terminology in Arregi and Nevins 2012, we can refer to these as Agree-Link, or the syntactic establishment of an Agree relation between Probe (agreement target) and one or more Goals (agreement controller(s)), and Agree-Copy, or the postsyntactic copying from Agree-Linked Goal(s) onto the Probe. Evidence for this split of Agree into two separate steps comes from the fact that they can be derivationally intercalated by postsyntactic operations such as Linearization in Hindi and Slovenian (Bhatt and Walkow 2013, and Marusic, Nevins and Badecker 2015) postsyntactic morpheme displacement (cliticization) in Bulgarian (Arregi and Nevins 2013), and Vocabulary Insertion (exponence) in West Germanic (van Koppen 2005).

I offer evidence for this two-step analysis of agreement from a different empirical domain, namely, the interaction of agreement with case syncretisms due to postsyntacic impoverishment (in the sense of Distributed Morphology) in Indo-Aryan and Basque. In both cases, variation in the possibility of agreement with oblique case-marked arguments (ergative in Indo-Aryan, dative in Basque) is due to a uniform establishment of syntactic Agree-Link relations, coupled with dialect- or language-particular differences in the application of Agree-Copy and its derivational interaction with postsyntactic impoverishment rules.

The interaction of agreement and case syncretism in these languages converges with other phenomena in arguing for a strongly derivational theory of Agree in which the latter is established in two steps, the second of which is postsyntactic and can interact in different derivationally defined ways with other postsyntactic operations. The variation found is thus largely reduced to familiar feeding and counterfeeding interactions among operations in a derivational theory.