Ordering discontinuous phi-feature Agree: Verbal -s in North Eastern English
Robert Fritzsche
November 2021

North Eastern English differs from Standard English with respect to agreement: According to the Northern Subject Rule (NSR), 3sg agreement marking (verbal -s) occurs on verbs in clauses with non-3sg subjects provided that they are not personal pronouns adjacent to the verb. However, data from the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English shows that verbal -s also does not occur with non-adjacent personal pronouns subjects in contemporary North Eastern English. I argue that verbal -s with non-pronominal non-3sg subjects follows from two conceptual assumptions: Firstly, the requirement to order feature-driven elementary operations and secondly, splitting up phi-Agree into two separate operations (i. e. person and number Agree). The difference in agreement between North Eastern English and Standard English stems from the different ordering of features on T. In Standard English, person and number probes are ordered before the structure building feature, which triggers movement. In the North Eastern English order, however, the structure-building feature intervenes between the two probe features. The full DP/pronoun split is explained by different kinds of movement: In the case of a full DP subject movement to Spec/TP bleeds number agreement and verbal -s emerges, while pronominal subjects remain in the c-command domain of T because they head-move to T.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005525
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: agreement, variation, sequential interaction, norther subject rule, syntax
previous versions: v1 [October 2020]
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