Feature Arithmetic in the Nominal Domain

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Shen, Zheng
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This dissertation looks into how multiple number features interact in agreement. In particular, I investigate how an element behaves when it gets two number values, i.e. multi-valuation. Although phi feature agreement has been investigated extensively for more than 20 years, multi-valuation has not been looked into as a standalone phenomenon across languages. Multi-valuation provides a novel perspective into long-standing issues such as whether semantic agreement and morphological agreement are both required and whether there is a correlation between the agreement on N and T in a given language.Chapters 2 and 3 focus on theoretical and empirical aspects of the nominal right node raising constructions (NRNR) where two DPs sharing one head noun (the pivot) e.g. this tall and that short student. I argue for a multi-dominance analysis for NRNR, which entails that the pivot noun in NRNR is multi-valued.Chapter 4 extends the investigation beyond the nominal domain. I argue that the T’ RNR construction involves multi-valued T heads. A cross-linguistic survey that compares the number marking on multi-valued Ns and multi-valued Ts reveals that no language can show singular on the pivot T in T’ RNR and plural on the pivot N in NRNR. This typological gap indicates a link between multi-valuation and agreement with hybrid nouns. Both phenomena follow the Agreement Hierarchy proposed in the 70s. This connection sheds light on theories of morphological and semantic agreement and opens up new research venues.