Closest conjunct agreement in head final languages

Elabbas Benmamoun, Archna Bhatia, Maria Polinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We discuss the phenomenon of closest conjunct agreement with a special focus on head-final languages; we present data from two such languages, Hindi and Tsez, which allow agreement with the rightmost conjunct when the verb follows the conjoined phrase. This contrasts with head-initial languages, such as Arabic, where close conjunct agreement is with the leftmost conjunct in clauses with VS order. In addition, both languages exhibit certain flexibility of word order at root clause level; when the verb precedes the conjoined phrase, it can also agree with the leftmost conjunct. The empirical data from the two languages raise the following questions. First, is the typological difference between head-initial and head-final languages in the context of coordination due to a difference in the structure of coordination in these two groups? Second, to what extent is the syntactic configuration relevant to the computation of closest conjunct agreement? Third, what is the role of linear proximity in closest conjunct agreement? These questions have wider implications for the analysis of agreement and the relation between syntax and the morpho-phonological component.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-88
JournalLinguistic Variation Yearbook
StatePublished - Dec 31 2009


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