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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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Datives, Defective Intervention, and Case Discrimination

Datives, Defective Intervention, and Case Discrimination

(p.129) 8 Datives, Defective Intervention, and Case Discrimination
Agreement and Its Failures

Omer Preminger

The MIT Press

This chapter addresses the phenomenon of intervention by dative nominals (also known as “defective intervention”). The chapter begins with an illustration of the endemic inability of dative nominals to value the phi-features on an agreement probe. Next, several existing accounts of dative intervention are surveyed. These include: the Activity Condition (Chomsky 2001); a functional-shells approach (Rezac 2008, inter alia); and finally, Bobaljik's (2008) case-based approach. The author argues that these accounts all leave something to be desired; instead, he proposes an account that builds on Bobaljik’s case-based approach in crucial ways, but takes dative intervention to result in the outright failure of agreement. This, it is shown, yields a superior account of dative intervention, one that predicts when it is that intervention will result in the appearance of a morphological ‘default’, and when it will yield outright ungrammaticality. The chapter concludes by showing how the same results militate against an account of agreement in terms of violable constraints (as in Optimality Theory; McCarthy & Prince 1995, Prince & Smolensky 1993). When combined with the results of previous chapters, this means that the only remaining viable account of agreement is one based on obligatory operations.

Keywords:   syntax, dative intervention, the Dative Paradox, failed agreement, (non-)quirky-subject languages, violable constraints, obligatory operations, case-discrimination, Icelandic, French

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