Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 1207–1261 | Cite as

Closest conjunct agreement is an illusion

  • Andrew MurphyEmail author
  • Zorica Puškar


Much recent work on closest conjunct agreement has argued that Agree must be sensitive to linear order. In this paper, we argue that the ‘closest’ aspect of this phenomenon is in fact illusory. What may, at first glance, seem like linearly-conditioned agreement can instead be analyzed as the result of different derivations inside the conjunct phrase. Thus, agreement with a single conjunct is in fact agreement with a conjunct phrase which has inherited the features of only one of its conjuncts. Furthermore, the assumption that a given order of operations inside the conjunct phrase is maintained at later cycles of the derivation makes correct predictions about the possibility for each pattern to occur either pre- or postverbally. Thus, we arrive at a principled analysis of conjunct agreement, which derives only the attested patterns in Serbo-Croatian and rules out ungrammatical structures without recourse to linear order.


Agreement Coordination Serbo-Croatian Gender Syntax 



For invaluable feedback at various stages of this work, we would like to thank Gereon Müller, Philipp Weisser, Doreen Georgi, Andrew Nevins, Lanko Marušič, Jana Willer-Gold, Boban Arsenijević, Anke Himmelreich, Martin Salzmann, Sandhya Sundaresan, Rajesh Bhatt, and Ad Neeleman, as well as three anonymous reviewers for NLLT whose comments and questions led to vast improvements in the paper. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at University of Leipzig, Goethe University Frankfurt, FDSL 10.5 in Brno and ConSOLE XXIII in Paris and Agreement Across Borders 2015 in Zadar. We would like to thank the participants at these locations for their feedback. Particular thanks go to the members of the project Coordinated Research in the Experimental Morphosyntax of South Slavic Languages (EMSS) at University College London for discussion of their findings. This research was completed as part of the DFG research training group Interaction of Grammatical Building Blocks (GRK 2011).


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für LinguistikUniversität LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS)BerlinGermany

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