Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 51–89 | Cite as

A Cyclic and Multiple Agree account

Person/number marking in Cheyenne
  • Miloje Despić
  • Michael David HamiltonEmail author
  • Sarah E. Murray


In this paper we propose that probe-goal relations are subject to greater variation than expected, such that both Cyclic Agree and Multiple Agree are possible not only typologically, but also within a single language and a single probe. Cheyenne (Algonquian) has two ways of marking 1st and 2nd person plurality and their conditioning differs between transitives and ditransitives. We propose a hybrid account of agree in order to account for this person/number marking which includes elements of both Cyclic Agree (potentially two probing cycles) and Multiple Agree (multiple simultaneous goals in the first cycle). Evidence against a pure Cyclic Agree account comes from the absence of bleeding effects in transitive forms, which indicates that probing is not always successive cyclic. Evidence against a pure Multiple Agree account comes from the presence of bleeding effects in ditransitive forms, which indicates that all arguments are not always simultaneously probed. Support comes from the properties of other probes in Algonquian and similarities with agreement patterns in other languages, such as Hungarian and Southern Tiwa.


Cyclic Agree Multiple Agree Cheyenne Algonquian Person Number 



We would like to thank the participants of the 39th Generative Linguistics in the Old World, the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, the 22nd Workshop on the Structure and Constituency of the Languages of the Americas, students in our 2016 Cornell syntax seminar, John Bowers, Will Oxford, and the editors and anonymous reviewers.


  1. Anderson, Stephen R. 1992. A-morphous morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, Mark C. 2008. The syntax of agreement and concord. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Béjar, Susana, and Milan Rezac. 2003. Person licensing and the derivation of PCC effects. In Romance linguistics: Theory and acquisition, eds. Ana Teresa Pérez-Leroux and Yves Roberge, 49–62. Amsterdam: Benjamins. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Béjar, Susana, and Milan Rezac. 2009. Cyclic agree. Linguistic Inquiry 40 (1): 35–73. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bloomfield, Leonard. 1962. The Menomini language. New Haven: Yale University Press. Google Scholar
  6. Bobaljik, Jonathan David. 2017. Distributed morphology. In Oxford research encyclopedia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  7. Bonet, Eulalia. 1994. The Person-Case Constraint: A morphological approach. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 22: 33–52. Google Scholar
  8. Brittain, Julie. 1999. A reanalysis of transitive animate theme signs as object agreement: Evidence from Western Naskapi. In Papers of the 30th Algonquian Conference, ed. David H. Pentland, 34–46. Google Scholar
  9. Bruening, Benjamin. 2001. Syntax at the edge: Cross-clausal phenomena and the syntax of Passamaquoddy. PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Google Scholar
  10. Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist inquiries: The framework. In Step by step: Essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, eds. Roger Martin, David Michaels, and Juan Uriagereka, 89–115. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  11. Chomsky, Noam. 2001. In Derivation by phase. Ken Hale: A life in language, ed. by Michael Kenstowicz, 1–52, Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  12. Coon, Jessica, and Alan Bale. 2014. The interaction of person and number in Mi’gmaq. NordLyd 41 (1): 85–101. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coppock, Elizabeth, and Stephen Wechsler. 2012. The objective conjugation in Hungarian: Agreement without phi-features. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 30 (3): 699–740. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Deal, Amy Rose. 2015. Interaction and satisfaction in φ-agreement. In North East Linguistic Society (NELS) 45, eds. Thuy Bui and Deniz Özyildiz. Google Scholar
  15. Despić, Miloje, and Sarah Murray. 2018. On binary features and disagreeing natural classes: Evidence from Cheyenne and Serbian. The Linguistic Review 35 (2). Google Scholar
  16. Ellis, C. Douglas. 1983. Spoken Cree: West coast of James Bay, revised edn. Edmonton: Pica Pica Press. Google Scholar
  17. Fidelholtz, James Lawrence. 1968. Micmac morphophonemics. PhD diss., MIT. Google Scholar
  18. Fisher, Louise, Wayne Leman, Leroy Pine Sr., and Marie Sanchez. 2006. Cheyenne dictionary. Lame Deer: Chief Dull Knife College. Google Scholar
  19. Goddard, Ives. 1967. The Algonquian independent indicative. National Museum of Canada Bulletin 214: 66–106. Google Scholar
  20. Goddard, Ives. 2000. The historical origins of Cheyenne inflections. In 31st Algonquian Conference, ed. John Nichols, 77–129. Albany: SUNY Press. Google Scholar
  21. Goddard, Ives. 2007. Reconstruction and history of the independent indicative. In 38th Algonquian Conference, ed. H. C. Wolfart, 207–271. Albany: SUNY Press. Google Scholar
  22. Halle, Morris. 1997. Distributed morphology: Impoverishment and fission. In Papers at the interface, eds. Benjamin Bruenung, Yoonjung Kang, and Martha McGinnis. Vol. 30 of MITWPL, 425–449. Cambridge: MIT. Google Scholar
  23. Halle, Morris, and Alec Marantz. 1993. Distributed morphology and the pieces of inflection. In The view from building 20, eds. Ken Hale and Samuel Keyser, 111–176. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  24. Hamilton, Michael David. 2015a. The syntax of Mi’gmaq: A configurational account. PhD diss., McGill University. Google Scholar
  25. Hamilton, Michael David. 2015b. Default agreement in Mi’gmaq possessor raising and ditransitive constructions. In North East Linguistic Society (NELS) 45, eds., Thuy Bui, and Deniz Özyildiz. Google Scholar
  26. Harley, Heidi, and Elizabeth Ritter. 2002. Person and number in pronouns: A feature-geometric analysis. Language 78 (3): 482–526. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hiraiwa, Ken. 2001. Multiple agree and the defective intervention constraint in Japanese. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 40: 67–80. Google Scholar
  28. Hiraiwa, Ken. 2005. Dimensions of symmetry in syntax: Agreement and clausal architecture. PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Google Scholar
  29. Hornstein, Norbert. 1999. Movement and control. Linguistic Inquiry 30 (1): 69–96. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kayne, Richard. 2002. Pronouns and their antecedents. In Derivation and explanation in the minimalist program, eds. Samuel D. Epstein and T. Daniel Seely, 133–166. Malden: Blackwell. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kiparsky, Paul. 1972. Explanation in phonology. In Goals of linguistic theory, ed. Stanley Peters, 454–468. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall. Google Scholar
  32. Leman, Wayne. 2011. A reference grammar of the Cheyenne language, 4nd edn., Raleigh: Lulu Press. Update of 1980 version, Occasional Publications in Anthropology, Linguistics Series, No. 5. Museum of Anthropology, University of Northern Colorado. Google Scholar
  33. Lochbihler, Bethany. 2012. Aspects of argument licensing. PhD diss., McGill University. Google Scholar
  34. Lochbihler, Bethany, and Eric Mathieu. 2016. Clause typing and feature inheritance of discourse features. Syntax 19 (4): 354–391. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Macaulay, Monica. 2009. On prominence hierarchies: Evidence from Algonquian. Linguistic Typology 13 (3): 357–389. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. MacKenzie, Marguerite Ellen. 1980. Towards a dialectology of Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi. PhD diss., University of Toronto. Google Scholar
  37. McClay, Elise. 2012. Possession in Mi’gmaq. Honors thesis, McGill University. Google Scholar
  38. McGinnis, Martha. 1999. Is there syntactic inversion in Ojibwa. In Papers from the Workshop on Structure and Constituency in Languages of the Americas (WSCLA), eds. Leora Bar-el, Rose-Marie DéChaine, and Charlotte Reinholtz. Mit occasional papers in linguistics 17, 101–118. Google Scholar
  39. Nevins, Andrew. 2007. The representation of third person and its consequences for person-case effects. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 25 (2): 273–313. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nevins, Andrew. 2011. Multiple agree with clitics: Person complementarity vs. omnivorous number. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 29 (4): 939–971. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Oxford, William Robert. 2014. Microparameters of agreement: A diachronic perspective on Algonquian verb inflection. PhD diss., University of Toronto. Google Scholar
  42. Preminger, Omer. 2014. Agreement and its failures. Cambridge: MIT Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reuland, Eric, and Stefan Müller. 2005. Binding conditions: How are they derived? In 12th Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG), 578–593. Stanford: CSLI. Google Scholar
  44. Reuland, Eric J. 2011. Anaphora and language design. Cambridge: MIT Press. Google Scholar
  45. Rhodes, Richard. 1994. Agency, inversion, and thematic alignment in Ojibwe. In Berkeley Linguistics Society (BLS) 20, 431–446. Google Scholar
  46. Valentine, Randy. 2001. Nishnaabemwin reference grammar. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Google Scholar
  47. Zeijlstra, Hedde. 2004. Sentential negation and negative concord. Utrecht: LOT. Google Scholar
  48. Zwart, Jan-Wouter. 2002. Issues relating to a derivational theory of binding. In Derivation and explanation in the minimalist program, eds. Samuel David Epstein and T. Daniel Seely, 269–304. Malden: Blackwell. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miloje Despić
    • 1
  • Michael David Hamilton
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sarah E. Murray
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

Personalised recommendations