Subject preference and object attraction in Algonquian conjunct central agreement

Yadong Xu

Abstract


Algonquian person-number agreement pattern differs in clause-typing. In contrast to the hierarchical alignment attested in the well-known independent (main clause type) inflection, the least-studied conjunct (subordinate clause type) inflection shows a preference for subject agreement, but such a default pattern can be overridden when the subject is obviative or when the object is local plural. This paper argues that the default subject agreement is due to the Activity Condition (Chomsky, 2000) resulting from the less articulated person probe features. The violations to the subject-agreement pattern can be accounted for by satisfaction of the probe features (i.e. [uPers, uProx, uPl])–the probe can be attracted to target the object once i) the proximate object meets probe [uProx] which the obviative subject lacks; or ii) the local plural object better matches [uPl] that is missing in non-plural arguments.


Keywords


agreement; Activity Condition; probe operations; features; Algonquian

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