Detroit, MI 48202
A Linguistics Program Colloquium presentation by Hamid Ouali, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Abstract. Agreement theories have evolved over the past thirty years reflecting an evolution in syntactic theory. Within recent Minimalism, Chomsky (2007, 2008, 2012) has argued for a Feature Inheritance (FI) approach to agreement, according to which C (Complementizer) is lexically specified for Agreement features (Phi-features) and T(Tense) inherits these features in the course of the derivation. There is, therefore, a C-T Phi-feature dependency and a correlation between the presence of C in the derivation and subject-verb agreement. Empirical evidence for FI comes from ECM constructions in English (Chomsky 2007, 2008, 2012), C agreement in West Flemish (Carstens 2003, among others), and Anti-Agreement Effect in Berber (Ouali 2008, 2011). Researchers such as Haegeman and van Koppen (2012) and Diercks (2011) have recently questioned the validity of FI for failing to predict certain data in West Flemish and some Bantu languages, for example. In this talk I will highlight some additional empirical facts from Arabic and Berber that raise serious challenges for FI. I will argue that despite these seemingly unpredicted facts by FI, we can still maintain this approach. I will detail a specific theoretical proposal and show its empirical and typological consequences.
Dr. Hamid Ouali is currently an Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He earned an M.A. degree in Linguistics from the University of Tromsø, Norway, in 1999 and a Ph.D. degree in Linguistics from the University of Michigan in 2006. Dr. Ouali’s research interests include Syntax, Comparative Syntax, Phonology, Morphology and Syntax-Phonology interface, with a focus on Arabic and Berber. His book publications include: Agreement, Pronominal Clitics, and Negation in Tamazight Berber (Continuum Press), a co-edited volume Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics XXII-XXIII (John Benjamins); and two co-edited volumes entitled Formulaic Language (John Benjamins). Among his articles are: ‘Agreement and Multiple Agreement in Arabic,’ ‘On Negation and Negative Concord in Arabic,’ ‘Computation Efficiency and Feature Inheritance in Crash Proof Syntax,’ and ‘On C-to-T Phi-Feature Transfer: The nature of Agreement and Anti-Agreement in Berber.’