Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

E-mail this page 1

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: Clausal and Nominal Agreement in Russian: A unified approach Add Dissertation
Author: Christopher Becker Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Michigan, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2008
Linguistic Subfield(s): Syntax;
Subject Language(s): Russian
Director(s): Samuel Epstein
Ljiljana Progovac
Acrisio Pires
Jindrich Toman
Natalia Kondrashova

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

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

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.