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Thomas R. Wier scripsit:

> He did indeed.  Which just goes to show that number agreement in
> English cannot be purely determined based on either semantics or
> morphology, since more recent American English has changed in this
> respect.

I don't think this counts as evidence: the behavior of proper names is
always going to be lexically idiosyncratic, because some features are
sealed off whereas others bubble up.  In the early days of the Union,
"the united states" was clearly not a name but a mere phrase, more often
applied to the united Netherlands than to us.  Later it became a name
and got singular agreement; though legal documents can still speak of
"the United States or any of them", it feels profoundly weird to me,
much more so than ordinary archaism.

> It's possible that all lexical items may simply lexically
> specify what "number" they are, and failure to agree is simply a
> feature-clash, i.e., there is no trigger or controller of agreement.

That strikes me as wildly unlikely, unless you want to say that the
head of "dogs" is "-s".  To my mind, claiming that American (at least)
English doesn't have syntactic agreement in number is like claiming that
it has grammatical gender on the grounds that ships, bells, countries
(sometimes), and a few other inanimates are called "she".

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