CRISSP Seminar: Vicki Carstens

CRISSP is happy to announce another installment in the CRISSP Seminar series:

Lecturer: Vicki Carstens (University of Missouri)

Title: Activity, Agreement and A-movement: How Grammatical Gender and Case Impact Grammar

Date & time: 15 June 2010; 16,30-18,00

Location: CRISSP/Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Koningstraat 336, room 408

Participation: free


Activity, Agreement and A-movement: How Grammatical Gender and Case Impact Grammar

In this talk I will describe a cluster of properties found in many Bantu languages and argue for explanatory connections among them. They are:

(i) Hyperagreement: widespread iterating agreement patterns that are not possible in Indo-European (IE) languages.

(ii) Hyperactivity: movements of nominal expressions that are generally disallowed in IE languages, including ‘Subject-Object Reversal’, transitive locative inversions, and raising out of tensed clauses.

(iii) Grammatical gender reflected in all agreement including subject agreement.

(iv) Nouns always at the left edge of DPs (preceding their modifiers and arguments).

I will argue that systematic adjunction of Bantu nouns to D(eterminer) makes grammatical gender accessible to all clause-level heads, and that this has two broad consequences. First, it leads to the inclusion of gender in all forms of agreement. Second, because grammatical gender is meaningless, it functions like an English Case feature in making its bearer ‘active’ in movement and agreement relations (in the sense of Chomsky 2001). We will see that these simple ideas do most of the work of deriving the unusual properties of Bantu. The residue argues that abstract Case plays no role in Bantu grammar, and hence calls for abandonment of the view that Case is universal.