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Agreement and concord in nominal expressions

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Abstract

This paper claims that feature sharing should be analyzed as the result of at least two different processes, which are named here <i>Agreement </i>and <i>Concord, </i>and inquires how these two processes are manifested inside nominal expressions (NEs). Agreement is the transfer of the Person features of the possessor (the “subject” of the NE) onto some functional head (parallel to subject Agreement in the clause) with the effect that (Genitive) Case is assigned. On the contrary, Concord is the transfer of Number, Word Class, and Case specifications from a functional head onto a modifier, which is first-merged as a Specifier of that functional head. The claim is that, quite differently from Agreement, Concord arises from the merger of a modifier, underspecified for uninterpretable features, in the specifier of a functional head, carrying a copy of those features. In other words, Concord is directly enhanced by the Spec-Head configuration; it does not involve merger of a probe which targets a goal and, as a consequence, never triggers (overt or covert) movement. This proposal can dispense with a number of otherwise unmotivated movements and can derive the different properties of these two kinds of feature sharing phenomena. The argument is supported by observing macro-parallelisms across Bantu and Romance languages, in particular Swahili and Xhosa on the one hand and Romanian and Italian on the other hand.

References

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