This paper proposes that inverse marking in the Algonquian languages is the result of a dissimilatory impoverishment operation. The inverse marker is analyzed as the elsewhere spellout of the object agreement head Voice, realized when the object agreement features on Voice have been impoverished. This impoverishment is shown to take place when a higher agreement head, Infl, also targets the object, creating a configuration in which Voice and Infl have identical person features. Impoverishment of Voice can thus be regarded as a dissimilation strategy that repairs illicit configurations of identical person features, as proposed by Nevins (2007) for "spurious se" in Spanish. This analysis allows the Algonquian direct-inverse pattern to be understood as just a small twist on a conventional nominative-accusative pattern. The only fundamental difference is that the "nominative" agreement head, Infl, is able to target either of the two arguments, giving rise to forms in which Infl and Voice both agree with the same goal and thus trigger the application of impoverishment.
Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
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