Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 453–481 | Cite as

Agreement and person in anti-agreement

  • Brent Henderson


Many languages display correlations between subject-verb agreement and subject extraction that have come to be known as anti-agreement effects. This paper explores an anti-agreement effect found in many Bantu languages whereby a third person singular human subject triggers a unique verbal agreement marker when the subject is extracted. It is argued that co-variation of certain morphological properties of constructions with subject extraction points to an agreement relation between C and T underlying the anti-agreement effect, a conclusion that converges with proposals from Richards (2001) and Boeckx (2003) about the nature of extraction. I also argue that although this agreement relationship involves full sets of phi-features, the differing values acquired by the feature [person] in the nominal and verbal domains often makes it appear as if [person] is uniquely affected in anti-agreement contexts. Finally, I argue that variation in how anti-agreement is spelled out in a language is determined by morphological quirks of the language, especially the organization of its agreement paradigm. I illustrate this latter point using the framework of distributed morphology.


Anti-agreement Bantu Phi features Distributed morphology 



Thanks to Cedric Boeckx, Eyamba Bokamba, Nancy Kula, Eric Potsdam and three anonymous reviewers for comments on this work. Also thanks to the participants of the 38th Annual Conference on African Linguistics at the University of Florida as well as the 45th Chicago Linguistic Society where earlier versions of this work were presented. Special thanks to Patricia Mupeta for providing or confirming all of the Bemba data in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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