Apr 242015

I’ve posted the handout for my recent talk, “Upwards and onwards” (joint work with Maria Polinsky; presented at the UConn Linguistics Colloquium, and at the NYU Syntax Brown-Bag).

This talk is about the structural configuration necessary for establishing an agreement relation between a verb or Tense/Aspect/Mood-marker, and a nominal, in phi-features (person, number, and gender or noun-class). It is argued that the verb/TAM-marker must c-command the nominal from which it receives its feature values – a configuration dubbed upward valuation.

Some prevalent arguments that agreement in phi-features requires the opposite configuration – downward valuation – are evaluated, and shown to be inconclusive at best.

Further data that can only be handled by upward valuation of phi-features are then presented and discussed. Recent attempts to handle these data in terms of a “hybrid” approach (Bjorkman & Zeijlstra 2014, 2015) are evaluated and shown to be lacking.

Finally, a new (putative) generalization concerning phi-feature agreement at-a-distance is offered, and it is argued that this generalization can only be explained if downward valuation in phi-features is categorically disallowed.

Download the handout here, or go to the talks & handouts page.