In this meeting, I will discuss the formal analysis of direct/inverse agreement systems proposed by Zubizarreta and Pancheva (2017), who model such systems as a syntax-semantics interface phenomenon, and I will argue for an alternative model that derives the data squarely in the narrow syntax.

Agreement in direct/inverse systems appears to be governed by a ‘person hierarchy’, where agreement morphology co-varies with the highest-ranking argument regardless of its grammatical role. Crosslinguistically, 1st and 2nd person arguments are typically highest on this hierarchy with 3rd person arguments ranking lower; languages may further appear to rank 1st persons over 2nd, or vice versa. The empirical focus of Zubizarreta and Pancheva (2017) is the direct/inverse system of Paraguayan Guaraní, illustrated below in (1).


   (Nde) re-mbo-jahu  ichupe
   (you) 2SG-TR-bathe him 
   ‘You bathe him/her.’


   (Ha'e)   ne=mbo-jahu 
   (she/he) 2SG.OBJ=TR-bathe
   ‘She/he bathes you.’

In both constructions, the verb agrees with the 2nd person argument whether it is the subject or the object, suggesting that Paraguayan Guaraní agreement is sensitive to a person hierarchy that ranks 2nd person over 3rd. In (1a), the 2nd person argument is the subject and the direct ‘re-‘ prefix appears. In contrast, the 2nd person argument is the object in (1b), and so the inverse ‘ne=‘ clitic appears instead.

Zubizarreta and Pancheva (2017)’s formal account of these patterns characterizes them as a syntax-semantics interface condition that enforces a particular structural representation on 1st and 2nd person arguments, while also making use of a purely syntactic toolset. That is, syntactic tools such as Agree, movement, and clitic doubling are independently needed in order to capture the agreement patterns. I will propose an alternative model that also uses this toolset, and nothing more. I argue that since the Paraguayan Guaraní direct/inverse system can be derived in the syntax alone, without reference to interface conditions, it is more parsimonious to pursue this line of formalization.