Are phonological features of roots in syntax? Evidence from Guébie

Hannah Sande


Based on original field data, I demonstrate that in Guébie (Kru, Niger-Congo), third person pronouns phonologically resemble their antecedents. This system, along with other phonologically determined agreement systems, pose problems for our traditional Y-model of grammar, which assumes that phonological features are not present in the syntax (cf. DM, Marantz 1995), thus morphosyntactic processes like agreement should not be able to access phonological features.

Here I address the question of whether phonologically determined agreement systems can be modeled without requiring syntax to be sensitive to phonological features. To do this I argue that pronouns select for an NP complement (cf. Elbourne 2001), where the pronoun enters into an agree relation with its NP complement. When spelled out, the morphologically agreeing heads must be phonologically similar, and this overt agreement licenses ellipsis of the NP. 

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