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Regular version of the site

Article

Gender agreement alternation in Aqusha Dargwa: A case against information structure

Studies in Language. 2018. Vol. 42. No. 3. P. 529-561.

The article discusses gender agreement alternation in Aqusha Dargwa (Nakh-Daghestanian, the Caucasus, Russian Federation). The phenomenon is observed in periphrastic verbal forms with transitive verbs where gender agreement on the auxiliary can show the gender features of either the ergative subject or the absolutive direct object. Considering existing analyses of the phenomenon in terms of information structure, I argue that agreement alternation cannot be captured by sentence-topic-oriented accounts. I also discuss a structural proposal developed by Sumbatova and Lander (2014) and show that their analysis cannot be maintained in full. Instead, I propose a modified analysis according to which only subject agreement, but not object agreement, results from a cross-clausal referential dependency between the ergative subject of the lexical verb and the absolutive subject of the matrix restructuring verb. On this view, agreement alternation may be assimilated to the familiar distinction between ergative and biabsolutive constructions found elsewhere in Nakh-Daghestanian.