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8 - Agreement, case and movement

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Andrew Radford
Affiliation:
University of Essex
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Summary

Overview

In this chapter, we take a look at the syntax of agreement. We begin by outlining the claim made by Chomsky in recent work that agreement involves a relation between a probe and a goal (though it should be noted that the term goal in this chapter is used in an entirely different way from the term goal which was used to denote the thematic role played by a particular kind of argument in relation to its predicate in §7.5). We look at the nature of agreement, and go on to show that nominative and null case-marking involve agreement with T. Finally, we explore the relationship between the [epp] feature carried by T and agreement, and look at the consequences of this for control infinitives on the one hand and raising infinitives on the other.

Agreement

In traditional grammars, finite auxiliaries are said to agree with their subjects. Since (within the framework used here) finite auxiliaries occupy the head T position of TP and their subjects are in spec-TP, in earlier work agreement was said to involve a specifier–head relationship (between T and its specifier). However, there are both theoretical and empirical reasons for doubting that agreement involves a spec–head relation. From a theoretical perspective (as we saw in §4.9), Minimalist considerations lead us to the conclusion that we should restrict the range of syntactic relations used in linguistic description, perhaps limiting it to the relation c-command created by merger.

Type
Chapter
Information
Minimalist Syntax
Exploring the Structure of English
, pp. 281 - 326
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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