The Inverse Agreement Constraint in Uralic languages

É. Kiss, Katalin (2013) The Inverse Agreement Constraint in Uralic languages. FINNO-UGRIC LANGAUGES AND LINGUISTICS, 2 (1). pp. 2-21. ISSN 2063-8825


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The paper aims to answer the question why object–verb agreement is blocked in Hungarian, Tundra Nenets, Selkup, and Nganasan if the object is a first or second person pronoun. Based on Dalrymple & Nikolaeva (2011), it is argued that object–verb agreement serves (or served historically) to mark the secondary topic status of the object. The gaps in object-verb agreement can be derived from the Inverse Agreement Constraint, a formal, semantically unmotivated constraint observed by Comrie (1980) in Chukchee, Koryak and Kamchadal, forbidding object-verb agreement if the object is more ʻanimate’ than the subject: The paper claims that the Inverse Agreement Constraint is a constraint on information structure. What it requires is that a secondary topic be less topical than the primary topic. An object more topical than the primary topic can only figure as a focus. A version of the constraint can also explain why Hungarian first and second person objects have no accusative suffix, and why accusative marking is optional in the case of objects having a first or second person possessor.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature / nyelvészet és irodalom > P0 Philology. Linguistics / filológia, nyelvészet
Depositing User: MTMT SWORD
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2013 11:26
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2013 12:57

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