That's not how you agree: A reply to Zeijlstra

Omer Preminger 1
  • 1 Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, Syracuse University


In a recent paper, Zeijlstra (2012) argues that the theory of agreement should be revised so that the direction of valuation would always be downward: the element that contributes the value (e.g. in the case of predicate-argument agreement in φ-features, the nominal) would be required to c-command the element that receives its value derivatively (e.g. the verb or tense/aspect/mood marker) – rather than the other way around, as standardly assumed. In this short reply, I wish to demonstrate that Zeijlstra's proposal is unsuitable as a theory of φ-agreement (i.e., of morpho-phonologically overt co-variance in φ-features between a finite verb or a tense/aspect/mood marker and a nominal argument). I survey two empirical domains, from Tsez and Basque, demonstrating this point; I then briefly discuss the consequences of these facts for the empirical domains that Zeijlstra examines.

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The Linguistic Review publishes high-quality papers in syntax, semantics, phonology and morphology within a framework of Generative Grammar and related disciplines, as well as critical discussions of theoretical linguistics as a branch of cognitive psychology. The journal welcomes reviews of important new monographs in these areas, dissertation abstracts and letters to the editor.