Switch reference as index agreement
Karlos Arregi, Emily Hanink
May 2021

The grammatical notion of switch reference refers to morphological markers that track whether the subjects of two related clauses are coreferent (Jacobsen 1967). We argue in this paper for a treatment of switch reference as index agreement, based on the behavior of switch reference in Washo (Hokan/isolate; USA). We propose that switch reference marking arises as the result of multiple agreement between C in an embedded clause and the referential index values of the subject in that embedded clause and the subject in its superordinate clause. The morphemes representing both different and same subject marking are then the exponence of the presence or absence, respectively, of conflict in the featural make up of C. We argue that, unlike alternatives based on coordination, control, or binding, an agreement-based account explains several core properties of the phenomenon in Washo, including the distribution and internal structure of clauses marked for switch reference, as well as the exponence of switch reference in cases of reference overlap. More generally, switch reference in Washo provides evidence that Agree can be bidirectional (downward and upward), as well as for the existence of referential indices as true syntactic objects that participate in syntactic operations.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004945
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory
keywords: switch reference, agreement, upward agree, referential indices, washo, morphology, syntax
previous versions: v3 [March 2021]
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