Events

A growing body of research has focused on the individuation of roots as fundamentally syntactic or phonological (e.g. Harley 2014 and subsequent replies). In this talk, I provide novel evidence supporting a syntactic analysis of roots. The Nishnaabemwin verbal complex is sensitive to animacy (i.e. gender) in two ways: (i) the plural agreement marker exhibits allomorphy based on the animacy feature of the object, and (ii) root suppletion is triggered by the object's animacy. Following Harley (2014), I argue that this behaviour follows from the root merging directly with the object. The resulting head-complement structure provides a sufficiently local relationship to condition root suppletion while also allowing for the agreement system to target the object's phi-features. Thus, the behaviour of Nishnaabemwin roots provides evidence in favour of the syntactic approach to roots.