Version française

Number as Person

Stephen Wechsler

The French sentence (1) illustrates a common type of number agreement mismatch: with formal vous as subject, the finite verb shows plural subject agreement while a predicate adjective is singular or plural, depending on meaning.

(1) Vous êtes(PL) loyal(M.SG). `You (one formal male addressee) are loyal.'

Such number mismatches, found in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, are explained by revising the traditional person/number paradigm. First of all, so-called third person is actually the lack of a PERSON feature altogether (Benveniste 1966, i.a.). Secondly, and perhaps more radically, 1st and 2nd person forms lack the NUMBER feature (Cysouw 2003). Hence tu/vous differ in PERSON, not NUMBER. Cysouw 2003 supports this banishment of number from the person paradigm with extensive cross-linguistic data on paradigm morphology. The present paper shows how agreement phenomena further support Cysouw¹s thesis. French, Serbian/Croatian and Bulgarian agreement are discussed. The analysis is formulated in LFG.

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