Hybrid A- and A-bar agreement as voice morphology: Insights from Austronesian and beyond
Victoria Chen
November 2021

Many Austronesian languages exhibit a type of verbal inflection known as ‘voice’ or ‘focus,’ which, in a descriptive sense, tracks the grammatical role of topics or relativized phrases. Comparative data from previously understudied languages reveals that such affixal alternations are best analyzed as the morphological realization of different bundles of A- and A-bar Agree relations probing the same goal (i.e. topics/relativized phrases). Similar portmanteau agreement is found in Nilotic and Caucasian, with four loci of variation attested: (a) presence or absence of φ-feature agreement with the goal, (b) number of voice distinctions (i.e. how many bundles of Agree relations are realised in narrow syntax), (c) the type of A-bar operations that trigger the hybrid agreement, and (d) whether the goal undergoes overt A-bar movement. I argue that this type of hybrid agreement is a feature of discourse configurationality (Li & Thompson 1985; É Kiss 1995; Miyagawa 2010), which functions to index the φ-agreement relation of the phrase simultaneously under Agree relation with an A ̄bar probe. If this analysis is on the right track, it reveals that φ-feature agreement is not the only available means of indicating abstract A-bar Agree relations, and that what is known as ‘Austronesian-type voice’ or ‘wh-agreement’ in the literature constitutes an understudied type of agreement that serves a similar purpose.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006323
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: a-bar agreement, austronesian-type voice, topic agreement, a-bar feature geometry, philippine-type voice, morphology, syntax
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