Celtic Agreement, The Avoid Pronoun Principle and Binding Theory

  • Randall Hendrick
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 14)


Agreement in Breton exhibits two major features which are striking. First, both verbs and prepositions are inflected for agreement. Second, verbs and prepositions fail to inflect for person and number when they appear with an expressed subject or prepositional object respectively. On the surface, agreement in Breton appears to be an elaborate, language specific affair, but in the second section of this chapter I argue that the distribution of agreement in Breton can be seen to follow from UG if we recognize two AGRs in this language, an overt and a null AGR. The former is associated with phonologically overt (or synthetic) inflection, while the latter occurs as the phonologically null (or analytic) agreement. The distribution of these two AGR element can be attributed to the Avoid Pronoun Principle, which treats the overt inflection as a pronominal to be avoided. Breton is special only in that it inflects prepositions as well as verbs, and makes use of two AGR elements.


Embed Clause Argument Position Verbal Agreement Null Subject Binding Theory 
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Notes to Chapter 2

  1. 1.
    See Timm (1986) and Varin (1979) for a discussion of Breton surface word order.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    These examples are adapted from Gramadeg (1976).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    See Jones and Thomas (1977) for a discussion. It is sometimes even possible to elicit structures like (i).Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    These examples are adapted from Gramadeg (1976, p. 26). In the Welsh periphrastic construction like (i) pro can occupy the object position because the synthetic agreement appears with the VP.Google Scholar
  5. 25.
    The correct characterization of such notions is controversial. For example, Chomsky (1981) argues for a structural definition, while Bresnan (1982a) takes the view that such notions are primitives. See also Marantz (1984).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randall Hendrick
    • 1
  1. 1.University of North Carolina at Chapel HillUSA

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