The agreement theta generalization
How does agreement between a head and a dependent relate to argument selection? Omer Preminger and Maria Polinsky observe a new restriction.
In this paper, we propose a new generalization concerning the structural relationship between a head that agrees with a DP in φ-features and the predicate that assigns the (first) thematic role to that DP: the Agreement Theta Generalization (ATG). According to the ATG, configurations where the thematic-role assigner is located in a higher clause than the agreeing head are categorically excluded. We present empirical evidence for the ATG, discuss its analytical import, and show that this generalization bears directly on the proper modeling of syntactic agreement, as well as the prospects for reducing other syntactic (and syntacto-semantic) dependencies to the same underlying mechanism.
What the PCC tells us about “abstract” agreement, head movement, and locality
Agreement in Person, Number or Noun Class features is always overtly realized, in some part of the paradigm, and is never fully "abstract".
Based on the cross- and intra-linguistic distribution of Person Case Constraint (PCC) effects, this paper shows that there can be no agreement in ϕ-features (PERSON, NUMBER, GENDER/NOUN-CLASS) which systematically lacks a morpho-phonological footprint. That is, there is no such thing as “abstract” ϕ-agreement, null across the entire paradigm. Applying the same diagnostic to instances of clitic doubling, we see that these do involve syntactic agreement. This cannot be because clitic doubling is agreement; it behaves like movement (and unlike agreement) in a variety of respects. Nor can this be because clitic doubling, qua movement, is contingent on prior agreement—since the claim that all movement depends on prior agreement is demonstrably false. Clitic doubling requires prior agreement because it is an instance of non-local head movement, and movement of X0 to Y0 always requires a prior syntactic relationship between Y0 and XP. In local head movement (the kind that is already permitted under the Head Movement Constraint), this requirement is trivially satisfied by (c-)selection. But in non-local cases, agreement must fill this role.
Back to the Future: Non-generation, filtration, and the heartbreak of interface-driven minimalism
Syntax is not a system that freely generates structures and then selectively filters them, contrary to common versions of the Minimalist Program.
Split ergativity is not about ergativity
Split ergativity is an epiphenomenon, argues Maria Polinsky.
How can feature-sharing be asymmetric? Valuation as UNION over geometric feature structures
Valuation of features is neither overwriting nor sharing, but instead "union" of geometric structures.
Case in Sakha: Are two modalities really necessary?
Ted and Omer rebut the view that case morphology in Sakha expones two kinds of syntactic dependency: both a relation between two DPs, and a relation between one DP and a functional head. They argue that the former is enough.
Agreement and its Failures
Omer Preminger investigates how the obligatory nature of predicate-argument agreement is enforced by the grammar.