Implications of grammatical gender for the theory of uninterpretable features
I argue that grammatical gender is semantically empty but intrinsically valued, so the strict linkage between uninterpretable and unvalued in Chomsky (2001) cannot be correct. I then demonstrate that gender is infinitely reusable as an “ activity” feature; in contrast, abstract Case activates a DP for just one Agree relation. This asymmetry suggests that valuation via Agree causes goal deactivation, and that deactivation is not necessary for every uninterpretable feature (<i>u</i>F). I accordingly analyze deactivation as arising from PF illegibility of multiple values for a single feature. Agree relations value Case, but never value nominal gender, so the legibility problem does not arise. I demonstrate that in Bantu, adjunction of N to D makes gender accessible to all probes outside DP. This and the reusability of gender as an activity feature leads to a cluster of systematic contrasts between Bantu and Indo-European languages: Bantu DPs A-move much more freely than Indo-European DPs, and value iterating subject agreement. The facts thus demonstrate that the internal syntax of DP impacts its feature matrix; it is not the case that a DP automatically inherits all f-features of its subparts, as syntactic theory generally assumes. Finally, I illustrate that Bantu C and T can agree with different expressions, casting doubt on the Feature Inheritance approach to <i>u</i>F in Chomsky (2007, 2008) and Richards (2007). The facts of grammatical gender argue that valued <i>u</i>F Transfer to the Conceptual-Intentional Interface without inducing crashes.