Abstract

Sobin (1997) proposes an analysis of several “prestige” constructions of English under which they result from grammatical viruses. Counter to his claim, I argue that plural agreement in expletive constructions introduced by there results not from a virus but from the grammar of English, because it lacks signature properties of viruses. I show that the flat agreement seen in expletive constructions with conjoined associates can be explained as a processing effect. I then argue that singular agreement with plural associates represents a second alternative allowed within the grammar.

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