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Over a period of two decades, Mark Baker produced a remarkable series of books, each of them an ambitious crosslinguistic study of a different facet of syntax: grammatical function changing operations (Baker 1988), noun and pronoun incorporation (Baker 1996), and word classes (Baker 2003). In The syntax of agreement and concord (SAC), B takes on the syntactic distribution of person, number, and gender features (phi-features) in grammatical agreement. As in the earlier studies, B proposes a unified theory and supports it with data from a vast array of languages. B’s work is unusual in its combination of depth of analysis and the breadth of lan-guages covered. Working within his own variant of Noam Chomsky’s minimalist program, but also using typological research methods, B finds deep formal similarities lurking beneath the ap-parent diversity of languages, and develops formal syntactic models from which those general-izations can be deduced. Like an intrepid scholarly explorer traveling by dog sled on one page and by canoe on the next, B traverses a varied, often difficult, linguistic terrain in order to test his hypotheses. The book will help to define the field in the coming years. It is required reading for scholars of grammatical agreement, and high on the suggested reading list for any syntactician. In Ch. 1, ‘Introduction: Category distinctions as a window on the theory of agreement’, B be

Year: 2016
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