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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2009, Vol. 40, No. 4, Pages 619-666
(doi: 10.1162/ling.2009.40.4.619)
© 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Breaking Agreements: Distinguishing Agreement and Clitic Doubling by Their Failures
Article PDF (256.35 KB)

In this article, I propose a novel way to distinguish between agreement and clitic doubling. The innovation lies in examining what happens when the relation between the relevant agreement morphology and the full noun phrase fails to obtain: whether the agreement morpheme still shows up, bearing default φ-features, or disappears altogether.

The workings of the proposed diagnostic are demonstrated using a family of constructions in “substandard” Basque (Etxepare 2006). Besides supporting the proposed diagnostic, the analysis of Basque provides a new perspective on the typological status of the Basque agreement system, as well as evidence against the traditional analysis of unergatives in Basque as being underlyingly transitive.