The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 10/18 - Claire Halpert

Speaker: Claire Halpert
Title: Surprising Subject Agreement in Zulu: Some new facts about raising
Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct 18, 1-2p
Location: 32-D461

I’ll be discussing a novel variation on the raising-to-subject construction in Zulu. I’ll present evidence that this construction involves movement of the embedded subject to a preverbal A position in the matrix clause without the matrix subject agreement that typically is required with nominals in such positions (cf. Buell 2005). Instead, the verb bears the same agreement marker found in expletive constructions. A comparison with the standard raising case, in which agreement with the raised subject does occur, yields no interpretive differences between the two constructions, which suggests that agreement with the raised subject is optional in this construction. I’ll compare this construction with one other instance of apparent optional subject agreement—the case of complex NP subjects—and explore potential explanations that unite the two constructions, including the possibility that the “expletive” agreement in both constructions is actually agreement with a CP.