Hyperactivity and Hyperagreement in Bantu
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Many Bantu languages exhibit A-movements and patterns of iterating agreement that are disallowed in Indo-European languages. In Minimalist theory, both agreement and movement are constrained by an Activity requirement stipulating that goals in Agree relations must have an unchecked uninterpretable feature. For Indo-European DPs the sole Activity feature in A-relations is Case; but I argue here that grammatical gender, a component of Bantu noun class, is uninterpretable too. Case and nominal gender differ in that the latter enters the syntax already valued. Assuming goal deactivation is a consequence of syntactic valuation, we derive the result that gender is an infinitely reusable Activity feature. Adjunction of Bantu N to D makes gender visible to all clause-level probes, and Bantu DPs are therefore able to A-move more freely than their Indo-European counterparts and to value iterating agreement. The proposals provide a unitary explanation for the existence in Bantu of Subject Object Reversal, locative inversion controlling subject agreement, Hyper-raising, concord, left-edge agreement with operators, and multiple subject agreement. The syntax of gender argues that uninterpretable features need not be deleted from a syntactic object bound for the Conceptual-Intentional interface.
Linguistics publications (MU)
Lingua, 121.5: 721-741 (2011).