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The Fine Structure of Cyclic Agree

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This paper argues for an implementation of cyclicity through a natural economy condition, the Earliness Principle (EP), which requires a feature to be eliminated as early as possible. EP predicts that the search space for feature checking should increase throughout the derivation with the growth of the phrase marker. This prediction is shown to be manifested in “agreement displacement,” where agreement morphology under certain conditions cross-references a noncanonical argument. Agreement displacement shows that (-features of a head may seek a DP outside the complement of that head, after the cycle on which search exhausts the complement, as predicted by EP. A detailed look at Basque ergative displacement, which differentially affects person and number, leads to the conclusion that agreement may happen only once per interpretable feature. The blocking of multiple Agree relationships is implemented as a locality effect, based on the construal of Case as a functional category introduced by Agree.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Toronto, Canada

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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