Public defence: A uniform account for agreement and information structure

Master Kinjal Hiren Joshi at the Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies will defend his dissertation A uniform account for agreement and information structure: A case study of Surati Gujarati or the degree of Philosophiae Doctor (PhD).

Doctoral candidate Kinjal Hiren Joshi, wall with text "det humanistiske fakultet"

In his dissertation, Kinjal Hiren Joshi investigates what allows agreement (e.g. for person, number, and gender) and information structure (e.g. topic and focus marking) to interact in a given language, and how languages use agreement morphology to overtly mark information structure. He uses Surati Gujarati, a language that belongs to the Indo-Aryan family, as a case study. The dissertation argues that the strategy of using agreement for information structural reasons is a direct consequence of the general tendency of probes to be OVERAMBITIOUS.

Noam Chomsky proposed a probe-goal approach to account for agreement. Typically, the features that are copied back to the probe are taken to be those that narrowly match the probe. Inspired by Baier, Joshi claims that a probe whether it is an [Ā]-probe or a [ϕ]-probe has access to the same set of features. Based on this behavior of probes, he argue that the distinction between different types of probes is not as clear as we previously thought. Thus, Joshi argues for a more unified approach to the theory of probes, which he calls the Probe uniformity condition.

Furthermore, agreement and movement have often been dissociated. This dissertation shows that movement and agreement are not always dissociated. Ā-agreement is contingent on overt/covert movement of the goal. Joshi uses data from Surati Gujarati to explicitly show how the movement analysis works and uses data from a number of languager to show that the analysis can be potentially extended to achieve a cross-linguistic appeal.

Kinjal Hiren Joshi successfully defended his dissertation on 28 January 2022.

Trial lecture


Designated topic: “Differential Object Marking (DOM) has been discussed and analysed for a number of different languages. Does DOM exist in Indo-Aryan languages? To what extent is it similar or different to the other cases that have been prominently discussed in the literature?”

Evaluation committee

Professor Elena Anagnostopoulou, University of Crete (first opponent)

Professor Gillian C. Ramchand, UiT The Arctic University of Norway (second opponent)

Professor Dag Haug, University of Oslo (committee administrator)

Chair of the defence

Professor Sverre Stausland Johnsen


Professor Patrick Grosz, University of Oslo
Professor Pritty Patel-Grosz, University of Oslo
Professor Sabine Iatridou, MIT
Professor Jonathan Bobaljik, Harvard University

Published Jan. 12, 2022 10:57 AM - Last modified June 29, 2022 11:02 AM