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Agree probes down: Anaphoric feature valuation and phase reference

Michael Diercks; Marjo van Koppen; Michael Putnam

This paper investigates the question of the directionality of Agree in the domain
of complementizer agreement (CA). Germanic and Bantu patterns of CA provide
prima facie evidence of both downward and upward-probing relations, as Ger-
manic complementizers are valued by the subject of the embedded clause, whereas
the relevant Lubukusu complementizers are valued by the subject of the main
clause. We argue, however, that all feature valuation relations can be explained
by a downward-probing Agree operation. Apparent instances of upward-probing
feature-valuation are analyzed as anaphoric feature valuation, which is a compos-
ite operation consisting of movement of the relevant (unvalued, interpretable) fea-
tures followed by probing of their c-command domain for valuation. We propose
that the behavior of anaphoric features can be derived from more fundamental syn-
tactic properties using a model of syntax that relies on the referential properties of
phases: more rigid reference of a phase is derived by movement of phase-internal
elements to the edge of that phase.

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