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The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: Hulst, Harry

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The differential representation of number and gender in Spanish

Zuzanna Fuchs
  • Department of Linguistics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
  • :
/ Maria Polinsky
  • Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
/ Gregory Scontras
  • Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA
Published Online: 2015-11-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2015-0008


This paper investigates the geometry of phi-features, with a special emphasis on number and gender in Spanish. We address two sets of questions: (i) are number and gender bundled together or do they constitute separate categories, and (ii) does the internal feature composition of number and gender follow a single- or a multi-valued system? Given the lack of consensus on these issues based on primary data, we approach these questions experimentally, using the phenomenon of agreement attraction: a situation in which ungrammatical sequences are perceived as grammatical when one of the NPs is erroneously identified as determining agreement. Our results offer novel support in favor of an agreement model in which number and gender are in separte projections and are valued independently. In addition, our results indicate that number but not gender in Spanish is multi-valued.

Keywords: agreement; phi-features; number; gender; feature geometry; small clauses; Spanish; agreement attraction; comprehension

Published Online: 2015-11-27

Published in Print: 2015-12-01

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review. Volume 32, Issue 4, Pages 703–737, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlr-2015-0008, November 2015

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