Article published in:Morphology and its interfaces: Syntax, semantics and the lexicon
Edited by Dany Amiot, Delphine Tribout, Natalia Grabar, Cédric Patin and Fayssal Tayalati
[Lingvisticæ Investigationes 37:2] 2014
► pp. 306–321
Morphology and syntax … and semantics … and pragmatics
Deconstructing “semantic agreement”
Agreement minimally involves interaction between morphology and syntax, as a target’s features vary according to the morphological form of a controller in a given syntactic context. However, semantics can also play a role, and the term “semantic agreement” has been used to describe various constructions where morphosyntactic feature values of the agreement target do not match the formal features of the controller, reflecting instead meaning-based properties of the noun. In this paper, we deconstruct instances of “semantic agreement,” as there is good evidence to believe that more than just the semantics is involved in the agreement process. In some cases, e.g. Russian hybrid nouns like vrač ‘doctor’, the local context provides the agreement features, giving a type of “pragmatic agreement”. In other cases, socio-cultural information plays a role, showing a broader type of pragmatic agreement. In light of these observations, we offer a deconstruction of semantic agreement phenomena in order to show the complex ways morphology interacts with syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Finally, we argue that the distinction between syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic agreement is paralleled by (and benefits from) earlier discussions of syntactic versus pragmatic control.
Keywords: semantic agreement, agreement, Vedic Sanskrit, pragmatics, syntax, morphology
Published online: 22 May 2015
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