Markman’s talk on Tuesday

On the parametric variation of case and agreement: implications for (non)-configurationality

Vita Markman
Simon Fraser University

Henry Hinds [5734 S. Ellis Ave.] Room 101.

Tues Feb 19, 2008 3:30-5:00pm

In this talk I will argue that case and agreement features are subject to parametric variation and explore the consequences of this claim with a particular attention to word order. Departing from the view that case and agreement are present in the syntax of every language, but may not be overtly realized (Rouveret and Vergnaud 1980; Chomsky 1981, 1995, 2000, 2001; Harley 1995; Bittner and Hale 1996; Sigurdsson 2003), I will argue that languages can choose to have case features, agreement features, some combination of the two or none at all. The main focus of the talk will be on languages that have agreement features but no case. Specifically, I will demonstrate that languages without case features, but with agreement features will be non-configurational. These include Mohawk, Kinande, and Chichewa. In contrast, languages with case features may allow but not require NP dislocation in the presence of agreement. These are all of the Indo-European languages, Japanese, and Nahuatl.

In addition to addressing the effects of the parametric variation in case and agreement on word order, I will also address a number of other syntactic phenomena that pose a problem for the ‘universal’ approach to case and agreement and are better understood if these features are taken to vary parametrically.

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