, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 253–310 | Cite as

Investigations on mixed agreement: polite plurals, hybrid nouns and coordinate structures

  • Miloje DespićEmail author


This article investigates complex agreement patterns with the polite plural pronoun vi and so-called ‘hybrid nouns’ in Serbian. I show how many curious agreement phenomena are to a great extent determined by the inability of an agreement target to simultaneously agree with an exclusively semantic and an exclusively formal φ-feature of an agreement controller. Consequently, in some cases (e.g., the polite plural pronoun vi) masculine emerges as the default gender value, as a result of an independently motivated mechanism. I argue that an analysis based on these two factors allows for wider empirical coverage than the analysis developed in Wechsler and Hahm (2011) and Wechsler (2011) based on an Agreement Marking Principle. I also discuss the so-called ‘different pronoun hypothesis’, which Wechsler and Hahm (2011) propose to explain different types of agreement triggered by the polite plural pronoun. In light of some new facts, however, I argue that the ‘different adjective hypothesis’ in fact might be on the right track. Along the way, I also develop an analysis of gender agreement with coordinated phrases consisting of singular number conjuncts and suggest that gender in Serbian should be represented in terms of binary features [±masculine] and [±feminine].


Mixed agreement Markedness and marked features Hybrid nouns Honorific pronouns Index/Concord 



For discussion of some of the ideas presented here, I wish to thank Andrea Calabrese, Jonathan Bobaljik, the audiences at the FASL 18 Conference (Cornell, May 2009), the Utrecht Syntax Interface Lecture Series (October 2016), the Göttingen Linguistics Colloquium (October 2016) and the Cornell Linguistics Colloquium (February 2017), as well as the participants of my seminars at the Cornell. For assistance with data collection I am very thankful to Alen Bešić, Biljana Čubrović, Ivanka Jelić and Ivana Mitić. Finally, I want to thank two anonymous reviewers and the Editors for their careful and helpful suggestions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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