Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 583–646

Long-Distance Agreement And Topic In Tsez

  • Maria Polinsky
  • Eric Potsdam

DOI: 10.1023/A:1010757806504

Cite this article as:
Polinsky, M. & Potsdam, E. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory (2001) 19: 583. doi:10.1023/A:1010757806504


This paper presents and analyzes a unique pattern of long-distance agreement (LDA) in the Nakh-Daghestanian language Tsez, spoken in the Caucasus. The phenomenon, in which a verb may agree with a constituent inside its clausalcomplement, poses a serious challenge to theories of agreement locality. In anumber of formal syntactic theories, agreement between a head and an argumentreflects some very local clause-mate configuration, often specifier-head. Wedemonstrate that this is inadequate for a satisfactory analysis of LDA and wepropose an alternative that appeals to a less local configuration resemblinghead government. Crucial to our analysis of LDA is the generalization that LDAis triggered by a constituent which must be a topic. We argue that the agreementtrigger moves covertly to an A' topic position within its own clause where it is in a local agreement configuration with the verb. Independent evidence forcovert movement and the existence of configurations which block LDA support theanalysis. The primary conclusion is that syntactic agreement cannot be reducedto a specifier-head configuration in all cases. The theory must allow a lesslocal configuration in which the target simply governs the agreement trigger.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Polinsky
    • 1
  • Eric Potsdam
    • 2
  1. 1.Linguistics Department, 0108University of CaliforniaLa Jolla
  2. 2.Program in LinguisticsUniversity of FloridaGainesville