Closest conjunct agreement in replacives: Experimental evidence from Estonian

Marju Kaps


The phenomenon of closest conjunct agreement (CCA) has been documented cross-linguistically in conjunctions (“X and Y”) and disjunctions (“(either) X or Y”), and agreement patterns with feature-mismatching coordination have been shown to be variable, both across constructions and speakers. The present work addresses agreement patterns with replacives subjects (“not X but Y”) in Estonian, where subjects can occur pre- or postverbally. Replacives differ from other forms of coordination by having a single asserted subject. A series of two speeded acceptability experiments with postverbal subject replacives, and a relative naturalness rating experiment comparing replacives to disjunctions showed that both CCA and a bias towards agreeing with the asserted subject (ASA) play a role in determining verbal agreement with replacive subjects. Additionally, there is evidence for less featurally marked 3rd person verb forms being preferred, particularly when there are conflicting pressures on agreement from CCA and ASA, and for person mismatches being fully repaired by morphological syncretism.


verbal agreement; closest conjunct agreement; replacives; disjunction; Estonian

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