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LINGUIST List 19.1804

Thu Jun 05 2008

Diss: Syntax: Becker: ' Clausal and Nominal Agreement in Russian: ...'

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        1.    Christopher Becker, Clausal and Nominal Agreement in Russian: A unified approach

Message 1: Clausal and Nominal Agreement in Russian: A unified approach
Date: 05-Jun-2008
From: Christopher Becker <beckercumich.edu>
Subject: Clausal and Nominal Agreement in Russian: A unified approach
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Institution: University of Michigan
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Christopher Becker

Dissertation Title: Clausal and Nominal Agreement in Russian: A unified approach

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Subject Language(s): Russian (rus)

Dissertation Director(s):
Acrisio Pires
Sam Epstein
Natalia Kondrashova
Jindrich Toman
Ljiljana Progovac

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation unifies, in different respects, the formal and theoretical
analysis of morphosyntactic agreement patterns, both those internal to the
clause and internal to the noun phrase, focusing empirically on the syntax of
Russian. Specifically, I develop a Minimalist analysis modifying the Agree and
Probe-Goals approaches and show that many long-standing issues regarding
agreement of formal features and Case can be accounted for without resort to
certain stipulations and unclarities. In particular, I propose that clausal
agreement reflects the features of the constituents of a subject DP (determiner
phrase) and propose locality constraints on this agreement operation. Such a
unified account of clausal and nominal feature agreement has been lacking in
many proposals that consider the data in only one, or the other, domain.

Within the clausal domain, I examine copular structures in Russian, and propose
modifications to the Probe-Goal hypothesis to account for the issues these
structures present. Specifically, I demonstrate that DPs in copular structures
can bear agreement features and Case independent of each other and I argue that
the syntactic head that enters into agreement with the subject is unable to
agree with the post-copular nominal. I account for Case variation of the
post-copular nominal by positing two distinct Case-licensing heads, one that
values nominative Case and one that values instrumental.

Within the nominal domain, I demonstrate that the uniformity of agreement
features and Case on determiners, adjectives, and nouns in Russian can be
accounted for if the inflectional head of the clause enters into simultaneous
agreement relations with each head of the nominal domain - the multiple goal
approach to agreement. This formulation of the Probe-Goal hypothesis allows for
agreement between the inflectional head of the clause and the subject, and
accounts for multiple and uniform occurrence of agreement features and Case
within the subject. Regarding numeral phrases, I demonstrate the locality
effects of the multiple goal approach to agreement, and account for disparate
features and Case marking within these phrases.

This dissertation contributes to the theoretical understanding of agreement
phenomena in morphologically rich agreement languages such as Russian and less
inflected agreement languages such as English.
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