Agreement is a crucial grammatical concept throughout the whole history of (western) classical tradition from Dionysus Thrax’ treatise (where morphological agreement was introduced as the basic criterion to individuate word classes) until most recent developments of grammar models where agreement acquires the status of a syntactic notion. Starting from the critical survey of the last 200 years of syntactic studies offered by Graffi (2001), we concentrate our attention on the role assigned to the notion of Agreement within the generative grammar framework with particular reference to the last developments of the GB model (Chomsky 1981, 1982, 1986) and to the evolution of the Minimalist Program from its first proposal (Chomsky 1993) to its most recent reformulations (Chomsky 1995, 2000, 2004, 2008). The first two decades of generative grammar studies (from Syntactic Structures to the Pisa Lectures) saw the crucial passage from a grammar of rules (and constraints on rules) to a model of principles and parameters. During this whole period the exocentric structure of the sentence remained some sort of "primitive" of syntactic analysis: a. S → NP VP (Chomsky 1957, 1965) b. S → NP INFL VP (Chomsky 1981) The introduction of the category INFL represented nevertheless a fundamental change for the notion of Subject Agreement from a pure morphological concept whose realization implied the application of a lexical (language specific) rule to a universal syntactic category whose postulation was not justified by overt morphology. Its activation was simply linked to the positive value of Tense feature in INFL: c. INFL → +/- Tense (AGR) During the 80s the status of AGR was invested by two further implementations of sentence analysis: i) X-BAR theory was extended to functional categories = sentence structure was analyzed as an endocentric construction corresponding to INFL''/COMP'' (cf. Chomsky 1986); ii) INFL'' was split into two independent projections, respectively Tense Phrase (TP) and Agreement Phrase (AgrP) (cf. Moro 1988, Pollock 1989, Belletti 1990). These two implementations had a great impact on the theory of movement and its role in the definition of interlinguistic variations. Head movement (in particular V° movement) became a powerful and sophisticated device for a detailed analysis of typological classifications. The theoretical consequences of this fruitful decade find formalization in the first phase of the Minimalist Program (1993) whose main points with respect to Agreement are the following: - The doubling of AgrP (both Subject and Object Agreement head independent projections who crucially enter in the definition of Case Theory); - The development of the checking theory which directly linked "move α" to the feature characterization of functional heads (weak versus strong features), ultimately linked to overt morphology. In the successive intermediate phase (1995; 2000), Chomsky and others recognize that Agreement has no semantic content and that its simulation as an independent functional head present in the lexicon is not justified. Agreement remains a configurationally relation, but more structural than substantial: (multiple) specifier head agreement is assumed to be the crucial configuration for feature checking. And its central role in explaining movement and cross-linguistic variation remains. In the most recent phase (2004, 2008) Agree gets to be an operation, completely devoided of any configurational status. Agree is an operation holding at a distance by which an unvalued feature (a Probe) searches and finds a matching valued feature (a Goal) valuating it. In this brand new definition, agreement gets dissociated both from dislocation and movement whatsoever (an additional mechanism forcing movement needs to be introduced) and from cross-linguistic variation and its morphological correlate. The complex evolution of such a central notion in the syntactic theory will be reconstructed at the light of the analysis of some representative articles of the various phases outlined above. The final goal of our paper if to relate the evolution of the concept of Agreement to other important shifts within the Generative Model, concerning in particular the role and status of movement: from a ‘radical imperfection’ (Chomsky 1995) to a ‘conceptual necessity’ (Chomsky 2006 a.o.); from a primitive to a special instance of the structure-building operation Merge driven by pervasive Agreement.

La nozione di accordo nella grammatica genrativa: dalle strutture della sintassi al programma minimalista

TOMASELLI, Alessandra;
2009-01-01

Abstract

Agreement is a crucial grammatical concept throughout the whole history of (western) classical tradition from Dionysus Thrax’ treatise (where morphological agreement was introduced as the basic criterion to individuate word classes) until most recent developments of grammar models where agreement acquires the status of a syntactic notion. Starting from the critical survey of the last 200 years of syntactic studies offered by Graffi (2001), we concentrate our attention on the role assigned to the notion of Agreement within the generative grammar framework with particular reference to the last developments of the GB model (Chomsky 1981, 1982, 1986) and to the evolution of the Minimalist Program from its first proposal (Chomsky 1993) to its most recent reformulations (Chomsky 1995, 2000, 2004, 2008). The first two decades of generative grammar studies (from Syntactic Structures to the Pisa Lectures) saw the crucial passage from a grammar of rules (and constraints on rules) to a model of principles and parameters. During this whole period the exocentric structure of the sentence remained some sort of "primitive" of syntactic analysis: a. S → NP VP (Chomsky 1957, 1965) b. S → NP INFL VP (Chomsky 1981) The introduction of the category INFL represented nevertheless a fundamental change for the notion of Subject Agreement from a pure morphological concept whose realization implied the application of a lexical (language specific) rule to a universal syntactic category whose postulation was not justified by overt morphology. Its activation was simply linked to the positive value of Tense feature in INFL: c. INFL → +/- Tense (AGR) During the 80s the status of AGR was invested by two further implementations of sentence analysis: i) X-BAR theory was extended to functional categories = sentence structure was analyzed as an endocentric construction corresponding to INFL''/COMP'' (cf. Chomsky 1986); ii) INFL'' was split into two independent projections, respectively Tense Phrase (TP) and Agreement Phrase (AgrP) (cf. Moro 1988, Pollock 1989, Belletti 1990). These two implementations had a great impact on the theory of movement and its role in the definition of interlinguistic variations. Head movement (in particular V° movement) became a powerful and sophisticated device for a detailed analysis of typological classifications. The theoretical consequences of this fruitful decade find formalization in the first phase of the Minimalist Program (1993) whose main points with respect to Agreement are the following: - The doubling of AgrP (both Subject and Object Agreement head independent projections who crucially enter in the definition of Case Theory); - The development of the checking theory which directly linked "move α" to the feature characterization of functional heads (weak versus strong features), ultimately linked to overt morphology. In the successive intermediate phase (1995; 2000), Chomsky and others recognize that Agreement has no semantic content and that its simulation as an independent functional head present in the lexicon is not justified. Agreement remains a configurationally relation, but more structural than substantial: (multiple) specifier head agreement is assumed to be the crucial configuration for feature checking. And its central role in explaining movement and cross-linguistic variation remains. In the most recent phase (2004, 2008) Agree gets to be an operation, completely devoided of any configurational status. Agree is an operation holding at a distance by which an unvalued feature (a Probe) searches and finds a matching valued feature (a Goal) valuating it. In this brand new definition, agreement gets dissociated both from dislocation and movement whatsoever (an additional mechanism forcing movement needs to be introduced) and from cross-linguistic variation and its morphological correlate. The complex evolution of such a central notion in the syntactic theory will be reconstructed at the light of the analysis of some representative articles of the various phases outlined above. The final goal of our paper if to relate the evolution of the concept of Agreement to other important shifts within the Generative Model, concerning in particular the role and status of movement: from a ‘radical imperfection’ (Chomsky 1995) to a ‘conceptual necessity’ (Chomsky 2006 a.o.); from a primitive to a special instance of the structure-building operation Merge driven by pervasive Agreement.
9788862741583
accordo; grammatica generativa; minimalismo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/338791
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