Nguni bare or augmentless nominals ([-A]) are licit only as strict negative dependents and wh-words. They may not appear in preverbal subject position unless local to a negation-licensed [-A] COMP of a subjunctive clause (Pietraszko 2021). This pattern motivates an analysis in terms of negative-concord and a labeling-theoretic approach to the EPP (Chomsky 2013): [-A] nouns have uNeg features which thwart agreement and labeling in [XP,YP] configurations (see also Bošković 2019, 2020) unless valued by interpretable negation in a syntactic Agree relation (Zeijlstra 2008, Penka 2011, Haegeman & Lohndal 2010). A cluster of further distributional restrictions on [-A] are predictable from an independently-motivated Nguni clausal topography of focus (Carstens & Mletshe 2016) eliminating any role for abstract Case in explaining the facts, contra Halpert (2015) and Pietraszko (2021). The analysis is inspired by and extends to parallel restrictions in Romance languages previously attributed to the ECP and the EPP (Contreras 1986, Deprez 2000, Landau 2007, Longobardi 1994).

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