Chapter

The Subject Agreement Cycle

Elly van Gelderen

in The Linguistic Cycle

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199756056
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896882 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756056.003.0002
The Subject Agreement Cycle

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Emphatic and demonstrative pronouns can be reanalyzed as subject pronouns, which in turn can be reanalyzed as agreement and later be lost. This series of changes is referred to as the Subject Agreement Cycle or Subject Cycle. A classification is given for the stages of the cycle using phrases, heads, and [phi] features and an explanation in terms of feature economy: The cyclical changes discussed here can be seen as brought about by certain cognitive or third factor principles as in Chomsky (2005; 2006), in particular by Economy Principles. Language change is triggered by reanalyses of linguistic data. Words with just semantic features are inert but reanalyzed with grammatical features, they are computationally active. The chapter also discusses Pronominal Argument Languages which represent a special stage. Languages discussed include Hindi/Urdu, Japanese, English, varieties of French and Italian, Egyptian, Coptic, Welsh, Irish, Zapotec, creoles, Navajo, Spanish, Warlpiri, Old English, Cree, Dutch and Flemish, Tohono O’odham, Yaqui, and Jacaltec.

Keywords: subject; agreement; pronoun; demonstrative; emphatic; clitic; pronominal argument; person hierarchy

Chapter.  18323 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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