The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 11/9 - Erik Schoorlemmer

Please join us for Syntax Square this week:

Speaker: Erik Schoorlemmer
Title: The indirect licensing of agreement on Germanic attributive adjectives
Time: Tuesday, November 9, 1-2PM
Place: 32-D461

In most Germanic languages, attributive adjectives display an agreement asymmetry. Depending on properties of D (like definiteness or the presence of agreement), these adjectives display either full agreement with the noun or no (or only partial) agreement. The inflection of adjectives displaying full agreement is often referred to as ‘strong inflection’, while its counterpart marking only partial or the absence of agreement is called ‘weak inflection’ (Grimm 1871; Zwicky 1986). In this talk, I propose that agreement on attributive adjectives is always licensed indirectly by a third element that mediates between the adjective and the noun. I then argue that weak adjectival inflection, i.e. no agreement or only partial agreement on the adjective, is licensed in case the mediating element is (partially) blocked as a mediator for independent reasons. Strong adjectival inflection, i.e. full agreement on the adjective, occurs in case the mediating element is not blocked.