An unusual property of human language is the existence of
movement operations. Modern syntactic theory from its inception has
dealt with the puzzle of why movement should occur. In this
monograph, Shigeru Miyagawa combines this question with another,
that of the occurrence of agreement systems. Using data from a wide
range of languages, he argues that movement and agreement work in
tandem to achieve a specific goal: to imbue natural language with
enormous expressive power. Without movement and agreement, he
contends, human language would be merely a shadow of itself, with
severe limitation on what can be expressed. Miyagawa investigates a
variety of languages, including English, Japanese, Bantu languages,
Romance languages, Finnish, and Chinese. He finds that every
language manifests some kind of agreement, some in the form of the
familiar person/number/gender system and others in the form of what
Katalin E. Kiss calls "discourse configurational" features such as
topic and focus. A key proposal of his argument is that the
computational system in syntax deals with the wide range of
agreement types uniformly--as if there were just one system--and an
integral part of this computation turns out to be movement. Why
Agree? Why Move? is unique in proposing a unified system for
movement and agreement across language groups that are vastly
diverse--Bantu languages, East Asian languages, Indo-European
languages, and others."
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