Complementizer agreement (in Bavarian)

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In recent minimalist work, it has been argued that C-agreement provides conclusive support for the following theoretical hypotheses (cf. Carstens 2003; van Koppen 2005; Haegeman & van Koppen 2012): (i) C hosts a separate set of phi-features, a parametric choice possibly linked to the V2 property; (ii) feature checking/valuation is accomplished under (closest) c-command (i.e. by the operation Agree, cf. Chomsky 2000 and subsequent work). This paper reviews the significance of C-agreement for syntactic theory and argues that certain systematic asymmetries between regular verbal agreement and complementizer agreement suggest that the latter does not result from operations that are part of narrow syntax. The case is based on the observation that at least in some Germanic varieties (most notably Bavarian), the realization of inflectional features in the C-domain is sensitive to adjacency effects and deletion of the finite verb in right node raising and comparatives. The fact that C may not carry inflection when the finite verb has been elided is taken to suggest that complementizer agreement does not involve a dependency between C and the subject, but rather between C and the finite verb (i.e. T). More precisely, it is argued that inflectional features present in the C-domain are added post-syntactically via a process of feature insertion (cf. e.g. Embick 1997; Embick & Noyer 2001; Harbour 2003) that creates a copy of T’s (valued) f-set. It will then be shown that this account can also capture phenomena like first conjunct agreement (FCA) and external possessor agreement, which are often presented as crucial evidence of the syntactic nature of complementizer agreement (cf. van Koppen 2005; Haegeman & van Koppen 2012).


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