A plea for syntax and a return to first principles: monstrous agreement in Tamil

Sandhya Sundaresan


The paper focuses on an interesting form of (person) indexical shift in the Dravidian language Tamil which surfaces as 1SG agreement marking in a clause embedded under a speech predicate. I show that this agreement is an instance of indexical shift and label it "monstrous agreement". However, I demonstrate that its full range of empirical properties cannot be adequately explained by the major analyses of indexical shift in the literature. The bulk of these, I argue, in addition to being predominantly semantic in spirit, and thus ill-equipped to deal with a morphosyntactic phenomenon like agreement, also involve two core misconceptions regarding indexicality vs. logophoricity on the one hand and speech vs. attitude predicates on the other. I propose that these core assumptions be strongly re-evaluated from first principles and that syntactic and typological clues on the subject be paid more heed. I propose a new analysis of the Tamil paradigms which derives indexical shift within an enriched grammatical model involving contextual features instantiated in a structurally articulated cartographic left periphery.


Monsters; indexicals; anaphors; Tamil; contextual and Φ-features; Agree(ment); cartography; propositional complements

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v21i0.2626

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