Unifying subject agreement across clause types in Estonian
Mark Norris
October 2016

Estonian negated indicative clauses show no agreement, whereas Estonian negated imperative clauses show agreement twice: once on the main verb and once on the negation word 'ära'. This contrasts with affirmative clauses, where agreement appears only once. I propose a unified syntax for agreement across these clausal types, arguing that the there is one head which bears a phi-feature probe in all Estonian sentences. There is no agreement in negated indicatives because this head has only one suitable vocabulary item in this context: 'ei'. Doubled agreement arises due to a rule of post- syntactic Feature Copying in imperative contexts. I argue that this analysis is superior to an analysis making use of multiple phi-feature probes in the syntax, as such analyses struggle to account for the optionality of doubling in first-person plural contexts. The proposed analysis makes predictions about the kinds of marking possible in negated imperatives, which appear to be borne out in related Uralic languages. This investigation supports a view of the morphosyntax of agreement whereby the syntax and morphology of agreement overlap but do not coincide.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003268
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Finno-Ugric Languages and Linguistics
keywords: agreement, estonian, imperatives, negation, multiple exponence, fusion, distributed morphology, morphology, syntax
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