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Anaphor agreement effect Essay (Critical Writing)


In the article, the author seeks to enhance the understanding of anaphor agreement effect. It seeks to demystify the prevalent knowledge and general understanding among linguists that anaphors are syntactically positioned and that they happen in harmony with their linguistic agreement. Using the premise of argument marking, the author explains that case and agreement must be in line with LF visibility (Everett, 2001).

Nonetheless, Shiraki explains that in case that anaphors occur in situations with positioned argument, they cannot be in relation with agreement. In this case, there is no chance for visibility condition. This critique attempts to address various factors that the author considers in the article. Besides, the paper will focus on the content rather than the style that the author uses.

Critical analysis

From the outset, it is important to appreciate that anaphors can never occur within a sentence in an autonomous way. The author uses numerous arguments to illustrate this perspective by focusing on the manner in which the anaphors are usually distributed within sentences.

In harmony with Chomsky’s articulations, Shiraki says that the anaphors have many constraints that include c-command and locality among many other factors (Chomsky, 1993). This makes them unable to occur independently. The author distances himself from various renowned linguists and says that lack of agreement of anaphors may have different perspectives.

To him, this agreement ought to be ‘marked’ making it apparent in a sentence. As such, according to Shiraki, agreement presents a way in which an argument may be marked. In fact, the author appreciates that this position is controversial among many linguists but goes a step further to provide research and scholarly articles that reinforce his theory.

Throughout the paper therefore, the author provides his theoretical framework that takes a different approach to the prevalent explanations of ‘anaphor-agreement’ effect.

The article is categorical that anaphors can agree exquisitely. Particularly, Shiraki asserts that anaphors agree in most instances but when they do, the results are grammatical limitations especially those that relate chain conditioning. It is important to notice that the author agrees that anaphors can never end up becoming grammatically right.

Indeed, Shiraki says that such grammatical and syntactic rules as subject-verb constrain the anaphors from making a linguistically right sentence. As such, it is critical to ascertain that whenever such a situation occurs, ‘theta-marking’ should take precedence and enhance the agreement (Chomsky, 1993).

Therefore, the article seeks to reveal ways to mark anaphors in argument by prescribing the marking criteria. Although this perspective by the author may seem surprising, he presents it in an interesting way that brings about new theory of anaphor agreement.

While many opponents of Shiraki may insinuate that his theory is not necessarily unanimous, the author illustrates this point by highlighting that some sentences suffer from redundancy that is not desirable in the context of English language (Chomsky, 1993). The rationale is that nominative redundancy in sentences occurs when they lack a case. Therefore, finite subject forces this agreement in opposition to a case (Kerstens, 1993).

Further, the article points out that marking an argument occur through placing a predicate upon an argument. It is important to appreciate that a predicate agrees with argument but is dependent on other factors. These factors select theta-features. In what he refers to as ‘argument marking asymmetry’, Shiraki explicates that the aforementioned factors may influence the agreement of a sentence.

It is also important to highlight that grammatical relations are dependent on alpha and beta elements. In other words, the article proposes that an argument is dependent on the properties of language. Referred merely as ‘R’, the syntactic relations have various properties that guide the agreement (Chomsky, 1993). At the outset, the author explicates that relations ought to bear an antecedent must have a single reliant factor only.

Moreover, Everett (2001) says the antecedent relations occur in such a way that they c-command the reliant relations. Another property that Shiraki highlights as an important property of syntactic relations is that the reliant ought to have an antecedent within its locality of domain.

In addition, antecedents that mark these relations may have multiple dependent elements (Kerstens, 1993). Essentially, Shiraki says that ‘R’ typifies the relationship of arguments with case.

The author articulates his perspective by revealing two issues that typify different case and argument agreement. First, he shows that arguments are always typical of syntactic relations. In addition, Chomsky (1993) articulates that the issue of argument marking is dependent on the assumptions that are naturally occurring within the context of a sentence.

His assumptions surround the aspects and principles of sentence structuring as well as the constituents of anaphors. It is through this platform that the author explicates the existence of ‘anaphor-agreement effect’. The author is in line with conventional arguments that propose that an argument within a sentence should bear marking that is consistent to LF visibility.

In this case, the author explicates that argument can be marked using case and agreement. In particular, Shiraki arguments that marking an argument using both the case and agreement results to nominative nature that is not desirable in the many languages is apparent and based on exploration of numerous theoretical frameworks. Germanic languages suffer immensely from the nominative redundancy.

To remove this argument, Shiraki explicates that marking a predicate may be an important way to counter the dissonance. The author shows this reduction of the discord is in harmony with syntactic properties in which the grammatical relations ought to have antecedents.

It is also within the general theoretical framework of predicate marking that the author formalizes his propositions (Kerstens, 1993). By way of introducing agreement, nominative and case functions, the agreement of appropriate function are fulfilled (Chomsky, 1993).

The author goes a step further by exploring the consequences of his assertions by analyzing ‘Anaphor- Agreement’ effect. He articulates that the rationale behind the apparent disagreement of anaphors in a sentence is attributable to the properties of sentence’s reflexive factor. Simply, he says that the element constrains the theta-features that the author introduces.

The result is dissatisfaction of the predicate brought about by agreement function (Everett, 2001). Nonetheless, the author’s ability to introduce various functions such as case function has enhanced case satisfaction. This is in line with the ultimate case agreement satisfaction that results from the apparent different constituents.

To elucidate this, he points out that English language has reflexives that typify such words as ‘himself’ and ‘ourselves’. These reflexives only change owing to increase or decrease of quantities and hence, agreement function should have a person in order to achieve satisfaction. He explains that the reflexives in English language cannot attain this sentence’s satisfaction using the head of the reflexive.

He also points out that Germanic languages can fail to satisfy this agreement contrary to majority of Asian languages. In this section, the author concludes that in Germanic and English languages, the nominative redundancy can occur easily.

To strengthen the perspective of argument marking, Shiraki shows the different roles that case and agreement play in the context of language. While linguists such as Chomsky and Rizzi acknowledge the role of a case in a sentence as minimalistic, the theory proposed by Shiraki uses the case and agreement as the most important aspects of theta-marking (Chomsky, 1993).

The conventional linguists carried the assumptions that reflexes of agreements represented the case. Besides, the author criticizes the minimalists’ tendency to assume that there exists no asymmetrical distribution in Italian and Germanic languages. Shiraki questions the accuracy of conventional linguists’ notion that anaphors can never contribute to agreeing positions in sentence.

Shiraki says that if their assertion were true, there would be no instances of anaphors appearing in the positions of arguments. The author therefore rests his case by criticizing the prevalent linguistic knowledge especially relating to anaphoric agreement in sentences.


The article highlights various ways in which anaphors can make sentences to have agreement nature. In particular, the author appraises the previous assumptions that anaphors cannot occur in place of argument. Shiraki introduces the concept of agreement marking that he justifies throughout the article using extensive research and study.

Contrary to many traditional aspects of language, the author assumes a new perspective of looking into the concept of grammatical relations and nominative redundancy.

He points the complexities associated with nominative redundancy that makes sentence structure of both Germanic and English languages to be undesirable. Although many linguists hold reservations for Shiraki’s assertions, the author uses complex analysis to articulate his arguments.


Chomsky, N. (1993). A Minimalist Program for Linguistic Theory. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Everett, M. (2001). Paradigmatic Restrictions on Anaphors. Massachusetts: Cascadilla Press.

Kerstens, J. (1993). The Syntax of Number, Person and Gender: A Theory of Phi-Features. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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IvyPanda. (2019, December 17). Anaphor agreement effect. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/anaphor-agreement-effect-critical-writing/

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"Anaphor agreement effect." IvyPanda, 17 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/anaphor-agreement-effect-critical-writing/.

1. IvyPanda. "Anaphor agreement effect." December 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/anaphor-agreement-effect-critical-writing/.


IvyPanda. "Anaphor agreement effect." December 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/anaphor-agreement-effect-critical-writing/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Anaphor agreement effect." December 17, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/anaphor-agreement-effect-critical-writing/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Anaphor agreement effect'. 17 December.

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