Feature sets in Gitksan split-absolutive agreement
Clarissa Forbes
October 2018

This paper presents an analysis of a split-absolutive agreement pattern in Gitksan (Tsimshianic), conditioned by properties of the ergative subject. In this pattern, DP and third-plural subjects trigger nominative agreement, while third-singular and local-person pronouns trigger absolutive agreement; ergative agreement occurs simultaneously. It is proposed that the DP and third-plural arguments differ in their feature structure from that of other pronominal arguments; they bear D-features in excess of traditional phi-features, and agreement is able to target these D-features even if the argument has already undergone ergative phi-agreement. Multiple ergative and nominative agreement with a single argument is therefore possible because different groups of features are targeted during different agreement operations. This results in what initially appears to be inter-language variation in the applicability of the Activity Condition (Chomsky 2001). The paper sheds light on the feature-specific nature of Agree, and presents an elaboration on the organization and role of nominal feature geometries in grammar, including variation in the crosslinguistic representation of number.
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Reference: lingbuzz/004389
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: syntax, features, agreement, ergativity, tsimshianic, gitksan, syntax
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