Call for papers: Move and Agree

Move and Agree – Forum on the Formal Typology of A′-agreement

The minimalist research program (Chomsky 1995 et seq.) creates a paradox for movement operations: Merge is conceptually necessary, but Move – and its accompanying Agree relation – is not. Yet there are many natural language phenomena which are insightfully analyzed using the metaphors of movement and agreement. We wish to theorize the paradox of Move/Agree (Keupdjio 2020), namely why does Move/Agree exist at all, if it is conceptually unnecessary? This forum focuses on the syntactic contexts that can be analyzed as instances of A′-movement and which are also associated with A′-agreement; g. content questions, relativization, information-structure operations like topicalization and focus. The agreement morphology that arises with A′-movement is known under various names:

  • A′-agreement (Keupdjio 2020);
  • wh-agreement (Chung 1994, Carstens 2005, Reintges, LeSourd & Chung 2006, Hedinger 2008, Schneider-Zioga 2009, Lochbihler & Mathieu 2010);
  • wh-copying (Fanselow & Mahajan 2000, Felser 2004);
  • extraction morphology (Zentz 2016);
  • complementizer agreement (McCloskey 2001, Carstens 2003);
  • reflex of successive cyclic movement (van Urk 2015, Georgi 2017).

Grouping these various morphological reflexes of A′-movement together as instances of A′-agreement, this forum explores the connection between A′-movement and A′-agreement with two goals in mind:

  • to gain a broader and deeper empirical coverage of A′-agreement via case studies of typologically distinct languages from a variety of language families;
  • to move forward the theory of A′-agreement defined as a non-local morphosyntactic feature-sharing mechanism that correlates with A′-movement (Baier 2018).

2. Location and dates: This online forum, jointly hosted by The University of British Columbia (Vancouver) and McGill University (Montréal), will take place over a period of 5 days: Monday 31 May through to Friday 04 June 2021. For details on the format of the workshop, see below.

Workshop website:

3. Confirmed invited speakers

Confirmed tutorial speakers

  • Cedric Boeckx: Thinking big: biolinguistics
  • Amy Rose Deal: How agreement works, with special reference to A’-features
  • Marcel den Dikken: Copular constructions, A′-movement and A′-agreement
  • Mara Frascarelli: Move and Agree as discourse-related dependencies
  • Hedde Zeijlstra: The syntax and semantics behind A’-agree and A’-movement

Confirmed forum presenters

  • Nico Baier – formal typology: On the Nature of Complex A/A’-Probes
  • Chris Hammerly – psycholinguistics:    Processing relativization in Ojibwe
  • Chris Reintges – diachrony: Coptic hidden movement configurations
  • Victoria Chen – Austronesian: What agrees, why and how: A view from Austronesian
  • Michael Hamilton – Algonquian: Agreement and discourse-configurationality in Algonquian
  • Marianne Huijsmans – Salishan: ʔayʔaǰuθəm subject agreement
  • Carol-Rose Little – Mayan:  Subextraction and Agree: A Mayan perspective
  • Martina Martinović – Atlantic-Congo: xhaustivity and Predication in A’-extraction in Wolof
  • Jenneke van der Wal – Bantu: Information structure as A-syntax                      
  • Marjo van Koppen – Germanic: TBA
  • Coppe van Urk – Nilotic: Feature-driven movement and the syntax of successive cyclicity 
  • Nicholas WelchNa-Dene: TBA

4. Call for papers:

We welcome contributions addressing the formal analysis of A′-movement as it relates to A′-agreement. Priority will be given to abstracts focused on the following research questions:

  • Which contexts condition A′-agreement? A′-movement is associated with a variety of operator-sensitive contexts (Chomsky 1980, Cinque 1990). The correlated A′-agreement may occur in some or all of these contexts leading to this question: what determines where A′-agreement occurs?
  • What is the realization of A′-agreement in a given language?
    What is the form of A′-agreement? Does it involve an overt morpheme in the form of concordial agreement (Chung 1994; Carstens 2005; Zentz 2016) or a particle (Epée 1976), allomorphy (Keupdjio 2020), a change in linear order (e.g. French stylistic inversion, cf. Kayne and Pollock 1978, 2001), a change in tone (Clements 1979; Zaenen 1983; Korsah and Murphy 2015; Georgyi 2017; Keupdjio 2020), a change in phonological phrasing, intonation, or something else?
  • What is the locus of A′-agreement? Is A′-agreement realized on functional heads (e.g. T, Neg, C) or on lexical heads (e.g. V, N)? (Keupdjio 2020); at the extraction site (e.g. as a resumptive pronoun or clitic) or at the landing site?; as a single exponent (i.e. realized once only) or as multiple exponents (i.e. realized several times across the A′-dependency)? (Georgi 2017; Keupdjio 2020).
  • How is A′-agreement modelled as a kind of agreement?
    Which theories of agreement generalize to A′-agreement? For example, mechanisms of feature-sharing and feature-inheritance are compatible with full interpretation of all features (Pesetsky & Torrego 2006; Chomsky 2008; Gallego 2014). In contrast, mechanisms of feature-checking, feature-transfer, or feature-deletion require that some features be uninterpretable, which is incompatible with full interpretation (Pesetsky & Torrego 2001; Gallego 2009; Carstens 2016).
  • How does A′-agreement interact with other types of φ-feature agreement such as number or gender? (Deal 2015; Carsten 2005; Baier 2018).
  • How does A′-agreement bear on the debate about how to formulate derivation by phase? The major difference is whether phases are static or dynamic (Gallego 2009: 112).
    Static treatments include treating every Merge or XP as a phase (Epstein & Seely 2002; Müller 2010), treating only vP as a phase (Rakowski and Richards 2005), and treating only vP and CP as phases (Chomsky 2000, 2008; van Urk 2015; Georgi 2017).
    Dynamic treatments attend to phonological, morphological, or semantic correlates of (in)dependence (Fox & Pesetsky 2005, Den Dikken 2007, Gallego 2007, Wurmbrand 2012, Harwood 2015, Ramchand & Svenonius 2014, Bošković 2014, Sailor 2014, Aelbrecht & Harwood 2015, Keupdjio 2020).
  • What does the formal syntax of A′-agreement reveal about interface issues?
    What does the syntax of A′-agreement reveal about the interface between phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics? Does A′-agreement depend on any other phenomena? Does A′-agreement develop from other grammatical phenomena?
  • What does the syntax of A′-agreement reveal us about formal language typology, language variation, and language change? Is A′-agreement associated with specific language families? Is A′-agreement associated with specific language areas? Does A′-agreement occur accidentally or is it a historical tendency? Is A′-agreement rare or just underreported?
  • What does the syntax of A′-agreement reveal about human cognition relative to language acquisition and language processing (including perception, production, and lateralization)?

Format of the Forum

This forum is — a public space of open discussion — for leading-edge research on the formal syntax of A’-agreement. As such, it combines three activities distributed across the 5 days of the forum as follows:

  • On Monday and Tuesday, one hour tutorial sessions on topics relating to movement and agreement.
  • On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday:
    • invited talks with panel discussions on A′-movement and A′-agreement in general and on specific language families (Algonquian, Austronesian, Indo-European, Mayan, Na-Dene, Niger-Congo, Nilotic and Salishan) and languages;
    • talks from anonymous abstract submissions on research related to A′-movement and A′-agreement.

Abstract guidelines

Abstracts should not exceed two pages, including data, references, and diagrams. Abstracts should be typed in 11-point font, with one-inch margins (US letter or A4). Abstracts must be anonymous; remove or hide any author-identifying information. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please submit your abstract using EasyChair.

Important dates

  • Conference start date: May 31, 2021
  • Conference end date: June 04, 2021
  • First Call for papers: January18, 2021

Abstract submission deadline: March 05, 2021

Contact information: Hermann Keupdjio (