Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 8 : 1 January 2008
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Copyright © 2007
M. S. Thirumalai


Ashraf Kafi, Ph.D. Candidate


In every clause that we encounter, we need to identify one nominal that will play the role of subject or actor. If the verb is intransitive, this is an easy matter. But when the verb is transitive, we may find two or even three nominal that are potential candidates for the role of subject. To select among these possibilities, we use a series of cues, including word order, case-marking, animacy and verb agreement-marking. The cues that involve the most complex interrelations between sentential elements are the agreement cues, since these cues require us to decode morphological markers on the verb and on the various nouns that might agree with the verb, and then to compare these two sets of markings in terms of the formal markings of the conjugational paradigm.

Key Words: agreement, grammatical agreement, animacy, honorifics.

1. Agreement
1.1 Definition

The term agreement commonly refers to some systematic covariance between a semantic or formal property of one element and a formal property of another (Steele 1978). Within this, we need further terms to discuss the 'elements' involved. The element whose form is determined by agreement is the target. The syntactic environment in which agreement occurs is the domain of agreement, and when we indicate in what respect there is agreement, we are referring to agreement features. Thus number is an agreement feature, it has the values: singular, dual, plural and so on. The leftmost unmarked nominal controls the agreement on the verb. Das (2006) mentioned three types of agreement in different languages.

Type I: Languages where case markers put constraint for the verb to agree with the nominal they occur with. So, the verb selects one of the arguments which is not overtly case marked. It has basically object-verb agreement and object-verb agreement in different syntactic environments. For every Type, we will mention to some Indian languages. Languages such as: Hindi, Punjabi and Gujarati are belonging to this Type.

Type II: There are no overt case markers with the nominal and the verb always agree with the Subject. For this Type we can mention languages such as: Sindhi, Oriya and Bhojpuri.

Type III: There are overt case markers with the subjects, yet the verb agrees with the subject and other nominal also find their reference on to the verb due to certain pragmatic factor but the languages do not have object-verb agreement as a system. For this Type we can mention the following languages: Maithili, Angika and Kurmali.

Type I is called a dual-system of agreement and Type II and Type III are called a single system of agreement.

1.1.2 Grammatical Agreement

'Grammatical Agreement' mainly explains those phenomena that exhibit the property of specific morphological form of a word appearing in a sentence with respect to the presence or absence of some other words elsewhere in the sentence. This is probably why Lehmann (1988) prefers to call 'Agreement' to be 'Referential' in nature. It deals with the distribution of an inflected word (i.e. the verb) with respect to the properties of other words in the sentence. It is for this reason that 'Grammatical Agreement' is said to be closely related to 'inflectional morphology' in natures as it also looks into the effect of 'Grammatical Morphemes' on the structure, i.e. the morphemes that carry information about tense, aspect, person, etc in the sentence.

A commonly accepted definition of 'Grammatical Agreement' in the literature can be summed up. Lehmann (1988): 'The verb agrees with a noun phrase in the bound morpheme(s).'

There is an understanding relationship between the zero features (i.e. PNG) and the noun phrase in the sentence and this relationship is independent of the nature or kind of the verb. The nominal inflection is a subcategory of the verbal inflection, and this part of the condition is also understandable.

The last conditions suggests about the formation of a constituent (i.e. the vp) and this happen when the bound form(s) or the null marker of agreement feature appears with the verb in the sentence.

This is only the introductory part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN A PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Linguistics and Literature | Agreement in Persian | Video-Tutorials for Tech Sign Vocabulary in Astronomy | Use of Phonological Information and Doltch Words to Improve Reading Levels in Deaf Education | Is It Time for India to Abandon Its Antiquated Rajbhasha Policy? | Lessons for Indian Women - Empowerment of Women Seen Through Some Selected Women Characters of American Fiction | Socially Sensitive Language Use - Some Issues in Indian Contexts | HOME PAGE of January 2008 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Ashraf Kafi, Ph.D Candidate
Department of Linguistics
University of Delhi

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