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A remark on Béjar & Kahnemuyipour 2017: specificational subjects do have phi-features

  • In a number of languages, agreement in specificational copular sentences can or must be with the second of the two nominals, even when it is the first that occupies the canonical subject position. Béjar & Kahnemuyipour (2017) show that Persian and Eastern Armenian are two such languages. They then argue that ‘NP2 agreement’ occurs because the nominal in subject position (NP1) is not accessible to an external probe. It follows that actual agreement with NP1 should never be possible: the alternative to NP2 agreement should be ‘default’ agreement. We show that this prediction is false. In addition to showing that English has NP1, not default, agreement, we present new data from Icelandic, a language with rich agreement morphology, including cases that involve ‘plurale tantum’ nominals as NP1. These allow us to control for any confound from the fact that typically in a specificational sentence with two nominals differing in number, it is NP2 that is plural. We show that even in this case, the alternative to agreement with NP2 is agreement with NP1, not a default. Hence, we conclude that whatever the correct analysis of specificational sentences turns out to be, it must not predict obligatory failure of NP1 agreement.

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Author:Jutta M. Hartmann, Caroline Heycock
Parent Title (English):Journal of linguistics
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Place of publication:Cambridge
Document Type:Article
Year of first Publication:2018
Date of Publication (online):2018/09/18
Tag:Icelandic; agreement; copula; plurale tantum; specificational clause
GND Keyword:Kopulasatz; Satzakzent; Syntaktische Analyse
First Page:611
Last Page:627
Dieser Beitrag ist mit Zustimmung des Rechteinhabers aufgrund einer (DFG geförderten) Allianz- bzw. Nationallizenz frei zugänglich.

This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 400 Sprache, Linguistik
Open Access?:ja
Leibniz-Classification:Sprache, Linguistik
Program areas:Grammatik
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt