The linguistic literature abounds with discussions of phi-feature inflection. The formalist tradition has, in a variety of ways, approached this phenomenon predominantly in terms of an agreement relationship between two terms of a syntactic structure—for instance, the subject and the finite verb (typically showing agreement for person and number), or the object and a past participle (which, e.g. in the Romance languages, may agree for number and gender, but not for person). But not all these agreement relationships affect all phi-features equally, which raises the question of whether there is to be a unified approach to phi-features in general. And two terms that can entertain an agreement relationship for certain phi-features do not seem to engage in such agreement every time they might be expected to so do. On the surface, plural subjects can co-occur with singularly inflected finite verbs, and vice versa; and sometimes a subpart of the subject seems to control the selection of the inflection on the finite verb, in so-called ‘attraction’ cases. These kinds of phenomena give rise to an in-depth exploration of the nature and reality of agreement relationships, including the possibility of an analysis treating phi-featural properties as autonomous vis-à-vis one another, assigned to each term separately, not under agreement. This special issue brings together a collection of papers and commentaries reflecting on these matters in various ways. In this introduction, I set the stage for the discussion to follow.
Baker, Mark. 1985. The Mirror Principle and morphosyntactic explanation. Linguistic Inquiry 16: 373–415.
Benveniste, Émile. 1966. Problèmes de linguistique générale. Paris: Gallimard.
Blevins, James. 1995. Syncretism and paradigmatic opposition. Linguistics and Philosophy 18: 113–152.
Bobaljik, Jonathan, and Susi Wurmbrand. 2005. The domain of agreement. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 23: 809–865.
Bonet, EulBlia. 1991. Morphology after syntax: Pronominal clitics in Romance. PhD dissertation, MIT.
Branigan, Phil, and Marguerite McKenzie. 2002. Altruism, A-bar movement and object agreement in Innu-Aimûn. Linguistic Inquiry 33: 385–407.
Bruening, Benjamin. 2001. Syntax at the edge: Cross-clausal phenomena and the syntax of Passamaquoddy. PhD dissertation, MIT.
Collins, Chris, Guitard, Stephanie, and Jim, Wood. 2009. Imposters: An on-line survey of grammaticality judgments. NYU Working Papers in Linguistics, Vol. 2: Papers in syntax. New York: New York University
Collins, Chris, and Paul Postal. 2011. Imposters. Cambridge: MIT Press (to appear).
Declerck, Renaat. 1988. Studies on copular sentences, clefts and pseudo-clefts. Leuven/Dordrecht: Leuven University Press/Foris.
den Dikken, Marcel. 2001. Pluringulars’, pronouns and quirky agreement. The Linguistic Review 18: 19–41.
Franck, Julie, Glenda Lassi, Ulrich Frauenfelder, and Luigi Rizzi. 2006. Agreement and movement: A syntactic analysis of attraction. Cognition 101: 173–216.
Halle, Morris, and Alec Marantz. 1993. Distributed morphology and the pieces of inflection. In The view from building, Vol. 20, eds. Kenneth Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser, 111–176. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Heycock, Caroline. 1994. Layers of predication: The non-lexical syntax of clauses. New York: Garland.
Higgins, F. Roger. 1979. The pseudocleft construction in English. New York: Garland.
Kayne, Richard. 1998. Parameters and universals, 187–205. Notes on English agreement. CIEFL Bulletin 1. 40–67; reprinted in Richard Kayne, 2002. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kimball, John, and Judith Aissen. 1971. I think, you think, he think. Linguistic Inquiry 2: 242–246.
Moro, Andrea. 1997. The raising of predicates: Predicative noun phrases and the theory of clause structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Otheguy, Ricardo. 2002. Saussurean anti-nomenclaturism in grammatical analysis: A comparative theoretical perspective. In Signal, meaning, and message: Perspectives on sign-based linguistics, eds. Wallis Reid, Ricardo Otheguy, and Nancy Stern, 373–403. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Picallo, M. Carme. 1991. Nominals and nominalizations in Catalan. Probus 3: 279–316.
Polinsky, Maria, and Eric Potsdam. 2001. Long-distance agreement and topic in Tsez. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 19: 583–646.
Reid, Wallis. 1991. Verb and noun number in English: A functional explanation. London: Longman.
Ritter, Elizabeth. 1991. Two functional categories in noun phrases: Evidence from Modern Hebrew. In Perspectives on phrase structure: Heads and licensing, ed. Susan Rothstein, Vol. 25 of Syntax and Semantics, 37–62. San Diego: Academic Press.
Rouveret, Alain. 1991. Functional categories and agreement. The Linguistic Review 8: 353–387.
Schütze, Carson. 1999. English expletive constructions are not infected. Linguistic Inquiry 30: 467–484.
Sobin, Nicholas. 1997. Agreement, default rules, and grammatical viruses. Linguistic Inquiry 28: 318–343.
Wechsler, Stephen, and Hyun-Jong Hahm. 2011. Number markedness and polite plurals. In: Morphology, eds. Jonathan Bobaljik, Andrew Nevins, Hazel Pearson, and Sauerland Uli (to appear).
About this article
Cite this article
den Dikken, M. Phi-feature inflection and agreement: An introduction. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 29, 857–874 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-011-9156-y
- Notional agreement