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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2009, Vol. 40, No. 1, Pages 35-73
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2009.40.1.35)
© 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cyclic Agree
Article PDF (216.77 KB)

We propose that agreement displacement phenomena sensitive to person hierarchies arise from the mechanism of Agree operating on articulated φ-feature structures in a cyclic syntax. Cyclicity and locality derive a preference for agreement control by the internal argument. Articulation of the probe determines (a) when the agreement controller cyclically displaces to the external argument and (b) differences in crosslinguistic sensitivity to person hierarchies. The system characterizes two classes of derivations corresponding empirically to direct and inverse contexts, and predicts the existence and nature of repair strategies in the latter. The properties of agreement displacement thus reduce to properties of syntactic dependency formation by Agree.