The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 10/1 - Tanya Bondarenko

Speaker: Tanya Bondarenko

Title: Coon & Keine (2019), “Feature Gluttony”

Time: Tuesday October 1st, 2019, 1pm – 2pm

Location: 32-D461

Abstract: Coon & Keine (2019) develop a new approach to a family of hierarchy effect–inducing configurations, with a focus on Person Case Constraint (PCC) effects, dative-nominative configurations, and copula constructions. The main line of approach in the recent literature is to attribute these hierarchy effects to failures of phi-Agree or, more specifically, failures of nominal licensing or case checking. Coon & Keine (2019) propose instead that the problem in these configurations is unrelated to nominal licensing, but is instead the result of a probe participating in more than one Agree dependency. Building on Béjar & Rezac (2009), according to which an articulated probe continues probing if at least some features are left unvalued after an Agree relation, Coon & Keine propose that what characterizes hierarchy configurations is that a probe agrees with multiple DPs, a configuration that they refer to as feature gluttony. Feature gluttony does not in and of itself lead to ungrammaticality, but rather can create conflicting requirements for subsequent operations. In the case of clitic configurations, a probe which agrees with more than one DP creates an intervention problem for clitic-doubling. In violations involving morphological agreement, gluttony in features may result in a configuration with no available morphological output. Important empirical motivation for this account includes (i) the different rescue strategies available, and (ii) the fact that hierarchy effects commonly disappear in the absence of an agreeing probe, as predicted under an account which attributes the problem to the probe.