While most models of grammar assume that syntax is not sensitive to phonological features, there are certain linguistic phenomena that appear to challenge this assumption (Pullum and Zwicky 1986, 1988). One such phenomenon is morphosyntactic agreement determined by phonological form, as opposed to syntactic or semantic features of the agreement-controlling element. Such a system is found in Guébie, a Kru language spoken in southwest Côte d'Ivoire. In Guébie and other Kru languages, elements of noun phrases such as pronouns and adjectives agree with the head noun—not in syntactic or semantic features, but in phonological form. The final vowel of the noun determines the vowels of the pronoun or adjective, whether or not the agreement-controlling noun is present in the utterance. Other (partially) phonologically determined agreement systems are found in Abuq (Arapesh; Nekitel 1986, Dobrin 1995) and Bainuk (Atlantic; Sauvageot 1967). This paper presents a concrete theoretical analysis of phonologically determined agreement systems, such as the one in Guébie, within the frameworks of Distributed Morphology (Halle and Marantz 1994) and Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993/2004). The proposed model relies on particular interactions between morphology and its interfaces, specifically phonological identity to output forms via morphological agreement mechanisms. Crucially, this model does not require phonological features to be present in the syntax, thus providing support for those frameworks which claim that syntax is phonology-free.
Proceedings of the 33rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Kyeong-min Kim, Pocholo Umbal, Trevor Block, Queenie Chan, Tanie Cheng, Kelli Finney, Mara Katz, Sophie Nickel-Thompson, and Lisa Shorten Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-469-0 library binding
viii + 426 pages
publication date: 2016
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA