Anke Himmelreich — Upward vs. Downward Agreement

Upward vs. Downward Agreement: Phenomena and Analyses

Agreement is one form of argument encoding in natural languages. Abstractly, agreement phenomena can be defined as follows: The properties of one element (the agreement target) in a given linguistic expression depend on the properties of another element (the agreement controller) in this expression. The analysis of agreement phenomena has always been at the core of syntactic theory building.

In minimalism, agreement is modelled as applications of the syntactic operation Agree. Recently, the directionality of Agree has been discussed quite frequently, that is the question whether the agreement controller must be higher in the structure than the agreement target (upward agreement) or lower (downward agreement).

In this course, we will discuss possible differences between upward and downward agreement concerning locality, features, and theoretical approaches. Some of the question that we will discuss are the following:

  • Are upward and downward agreement different phenomena and do they have to be analyzed in different ways?
  • Do upward and downward agreement differ with respect to locality constraints, one being inherently more local than the other one?
  • Are there any arguments against upward agreement? Are there any arguments against downward agreement?

Class materials: