Talk - Understanding Closest Conjunct Agreement am 24.11.2017


Professor Maria Polinsky (University of Maryland) will give a guest lecture in the Department of Linguistics
(Sensengasse 3a, Seminarraum 2, 2. OG) on Friday, 24 November 2017, at 12:30, to which you are cordially invited. The title of her talk is: "Understanding Closest Conjunct Agreement”. The abstract follows below.


Abstract of talk:

In this talk, I present and analyze patterns of agreement with the closest conjunct (closest conjunct agreement, CCA below) as opposed to agreement with the entire Boolean phrase (&P). Until recently, most work on CCA has considered head-initial languages, where the closest conjunct is also the structurally-dominant subconstituent of a &P. Data from head-final languages are more informative with respect to CCA as they allow us to separate agreement based on adjacency and agreement based on structural relations. In this talk, I will mainly consider data from Hindi. Hindi allows bidirectional CCA in number and gender, with the verb preceding or following the &P (verb-first CCA and verb-last CCA respectively). Earlier accounts of bidirectional CCA, including work on Hindi, have treated such CCA as a uniform phenomenon (cf. Bhatt & Walkow 2013; Benmamoun et al. 2009). Using syntactic evidence and evidence from prosody, I argue that this is incorrect and that two separate analyses are needed for verb-last and verb-fist CCA respectively. The pattern of verb-last CCA is actually an instantiation of ellipsis and is only apparent CCA. The pattern of verb-first CCA is an instance of genuine CCA, and it can be used as evidence for the two-step model of agreement where Match takes place in narrow syntax, but φ-feature transfer takes place post-syntactically (cf. Franck et al. 2006; Benmamoun et al. 2009). I conclude by discussing the predictions of the two separate analyses concerning cross-linguistic distribution of CCA. The overall results pertaining to agreement with closest conjunct have a direct bearing on the question of locating agreement in the syntax or in post-syntactic components.

Benmamoun, E., Bhatia, A., Polinsky, M. 2009. Closest conjunct agreement in head final languages. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 9: 67-88. doi 10.1075/livy.9.02ben

Bhatt, R., Walkow, M. 2013. Locating agreement in grammar: an argument from agreement in conjunctions. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 31: 951-1013.