Thursday 4 March – Thomas McFadden & Sandhya Sundaresan

Speaker: Thomas McFadden (ZAS, Berlin) & Sandhya Sundaresan (U. of Göttingen)
Title: Unifying species of C-agreement
Date: Thursday 4 March
Venue: Skype (contact us to get access to the meeting)
Time: 15.15 – 16.30 hrs


In this talk, we will undertake one of the first detailed comparisons of clause-peripheral complementizer agreement (“C-agreement”) and argue that it is splintered across distinct heads which stand in agreement with dedicated extra-clausal arguments. In this, the heterogeneity of C-agreement parallels that of clause-internal agreement, which is also typically understood to involve distinct functional heads (e.g. T or v) in agreement with (often distinct) nominal arguments (e.g. a subject or object). “C-agreement” is thus a misnomer, masking a slew of disparate agreement phenomena that are rarely discussed in unison or compared (but see Baker, To Appear).

We will compare and contrast three distinct types of agreement on C: (i) downward complementizer agreeement (DCA) with an embedded subject, as seen in many West Germanic languages (van Koppen, 2017); (ii) upward complementizer agreement (UCA) with a matrix subject as in many Bantu languages (Diercks, 2013; Carstens, 2016, a.o.); and (iii) allocutive agreement (AA) with an extra-argumental Addressee, as seen e.g./ in Basque and Tamil (Oyharçabal, 1993; Miyagawa, 2017; McFadden, 2020). We will show that these patterns differ along distinct parameters which do not straightforwardly facilitate a unified analysis. Instead, we will propose that the heterogeneity of C-agreement is merely epiphenomenal of the CP itself being articulated across a sequence of C-heads in a rigid, monotonic order (cf. the functional sequence in Cinque, 1999, a.o.) — again paralleling the standard notion of a functional sequence within the TP (minimally, T > v> V). Differences in C-agreement, we will argue, fall out solely from differences, parametrized across individual structures and languages, wrt.: (i) the presence vs. absence of a probe; (ii) the height of a probe relative to the embedded CP phase; and (iii) the structure of the CP which, in turn, influences the availability of certain goals. We will conclude by showing that our model makes the right empirical predictions wrt. the distribution and typology of C-agreement, both across languages and across individual structures.

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