On the superficiality of Welsh agreement
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- Borsley, R.D. Nat Lang Linguist Theory (2009) 27: 225. doi:10.1007/s11049-009-9067-3
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A notable feature of Welsh is a number of agreement phenomena, all of which only occur with pronouns. Finite verbs agree with a following pronominal subject, prepositions agree with a following pronominal complement, and a particle which introduces non-finite clauses agrees with a following pronominal subject. Similarly, nouns have a preceding clitic agreeing with a following pronominal possessor, non-finite verbs have a preceding clitic agreeing with a following pronominal object, and what looks like the non-finite form of bod “be”, which introduces certain subordinate clauses, has a preceding clitic agreeing with a following pronominal subject. There seems to be a single phenomenon here. Approaches that involve an abstract level face problems and there is no evidence that the phenomenon involves an abstract level. It seems quite plausible to suggest that superficial linear order is crucial, and this idea can be implemented in a straightforward way within linearization-based Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). The properties of agreement also entail that unexpressed noun phrases of various kinds must be represented in the superficial constituent structure and not just at some abstract level, contrary to the view of some frameworks.