Lessons from CP in Passamaquoddy and beyond
Peter Grishin
September 2023
 

This thesis explores various aspects of CP morphosyntax in Passamaquoddy-Wolastoqey and other Algonquian languages and their consequences for broader generative syntactic theory. It consists of two parts: one investigates clause typing and clause size in Passamaquoddy, and the other investigates the properties of a CP-layer agreement marker, the peripheral suffix, across Algonquian. In addition, a lengthy background chapter offers new data and insight on the correct analysis of the inverse and obviation in Passamaquoddy and across Algonquian. Part I studies the distribution of the three morphologically-distinguished non-imperative clause types in Passamaquoddy: the independent, the conjunct, and the subordinative. I argue that their distribution in complementation and coordination structures falls out naturally from their structural size, following the work of Wurmbrand and Lohninger (2023) and Bjorkman (2012, 2013). I support this conclusion by carefully investigating how each clause type interacts with Ā phenomena like wh movement and long distance agreement, showing that various complex interactions between these syntactic processes are derivative of clause size: independent clauses and conjunct clauses under epistemic attitudes are large, phasal CPs, conjunct clauses under direct perception predicates are smaller, non-phasal CPs, and subordinative clauses are bare TPs. Part II studies two unexpected properties of peripheral agreement across Algonquian: (i) its preference for agreeing with third persons, no matter their syntactic role (found in all Algonquian languages); and (ii) its preference for agreeing with the least local goal (found in languages like Passamaquoddy, Ojibwe, and Wampanoag). I explore the consequences of these typologically unusual properties for the theory of φ agreement and provide an analysis of the cross-Algonquian variation we find in peripheral agreement (building on Xu 2021, 2022). I argue that Algonquian third person preference forces us to accept Nevins (2007) and Trommer’s (2008) conclusion that third person cannot be underspecified relative to first and second person, even in the syntax (contra Preminger 2019 and van Alem 2023). Additionally, I show that Algonquian lowest preference doesn’t force us to give up on standard locality properties of Agree, and argue for an analysis under which C agrees with all matching accessible goals, but only spells out the last Agree relation—Expone Outermost—building a parallel with similar ideas in the domain of multiple case assignment. Finally, I capture cross-Algonquian variation in peripheral agreement by varying the specification of the peripheral agreement probe and varying which arguments are able to shift out of the VP phase.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007567
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: MIT PhD thesis
keywords: clause type, clause size, left periphery, agreement, third person, algonquian, passamaquoddy, wolastoqey, maliseet, morphology, syntax
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