Disagreement on Agreement: person agreement between coordinated subjects and verbs in Dutch and German
SourceLinguistics : An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences, 42, 5, (2004), pp. 905-930
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
SW OZ NICI CO
Linguistics : An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences
Native speakers of Dutch and German reliably know how to combine the person features of a coordination of two singular elements into a new plural person feature. For example, a phrase like jij en de jongen (you [2nd singular] and the boy) becomes jullie (you [2ndplural]). However, anecdotal evidence suggests that despite this knowledge, speakers of Dutch and German have a strong tendency to treat the whole compound subject as 3rd person plural when computing person agreement between such a compound subject and a verb. In two language production experiments, we obtained results confirming this anecdotal evidence. Furthermore, the results show that the use of 3rd person plural verbs does not depend on the order in which the 2nd and 3rd person elements occur in the compound subject (e.g. jij en de jongen vs. de jongen en jij). The results are interpreted in a framework assuming two alternative computational procedures for person agreement, a purely syntactic procedure and a conceptual-semantic procedure.
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