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Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 973–997 | Cite as

Remarks on omnivory and complementarity: a commentary on the paper by Andrew Nevins

  • Susana Béjar
Article
  • 224 Downloads

Abstract

This commentary examines Nevins’ Multiple Agree (MA) approach to complex agreement phenomena, and in particular the two patterns that Nevins identifies as omnivorous number and person complementarity. Nevins analyzes both as outcomes of the MA mechanism and attributes the categorical split between person and number to ontological differences in the feature inventories: person features are binary and fully specified, while number features are unary and underspecified. I argue that the opposition between person and number is strained insofar as there exist contexts where person, too, patterns as though it were underspecified, giving rise to the omnivorous agreement pattern. I also show that the MA mechanics do not fully predict that number agreement should be omnivorous across the board. Auxiliary assumptions restricting possible probe structures are required.

Keywords

Complex agreement Person agreement Number agreement Omnivorous agreement Complementary agreement Multiple Agree Agreement restrictions Phi-features Underspecification 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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