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Agreement and Its Failures$
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Omer Preminger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027403

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027403.001.0001

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. Derivational Time-Bombs: Inadequate for Deriving the Obligatoriness of φ-Agreement

. Derivational Time-Bombs: Inadequate for Deriving the Obligatoriness of φ-Agreement

(p.85) 5. Derivational Time-Bombs: Inadequate for Deriving the Obligatoriness of φ-Agreement
Agreement and Its Failures

Omer Preminger

The MIT Press

Building on the results of previous chapters, this chapter puts forth the central argument against derivational time-bombs (including, but not limited to, Chomsky's 2000, 2001 ‘uninterpretable features’) as a way of deriving the obligatoriness of phi-feature agreement. The argument is presented in two forms, one based on number agreement in Kichean Agent-Focus, and one based on person agreement in the same construction. The final section sketches two alternatives which, unlike the derivational time-bombs model, are able to account for the facts at hand. One is based on the notion of obligatory operations, and the other on the notion of violable constraints (as in Optimality Theory; McCarthy & Prince 1995, Prince & Smolensky 1993). The appendix to this chapter provides a brief historical survey of how syntactic theory came to regard ‘uninterpretable features’ as having anything to do with the obligatoriness of phi-feature agreement, in the first place. It also offers a roadmap for how we might selectively undo this component of contemporary syntactic theory, while retaining the other, beneficial developments that came with it.

Keywords:   syntax, agreement, obligatoriness, derivational time-bombs, uninterpretable features, obligatory operations, violable constraints, Last Resort

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