The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-lunch 10/1: Ivy Sichel

Join us for this week’s Ling-lunch talk:

Speaker: Ivy Sichel
Time: Thurs 10/1, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

Title: Economy and the Interpretation of Pronominals

Natural languages use pronominal material for a variety of purposes which extend beyond the ordinary use of pronouns to denote independent theta-roles. In some of these other uses, pronominal material appears to double another DP, including, for example, resumptive pronouns and agreement. The talk addresses how these forms are interpreted, and in particular whether the pronominal form allows reconstruction of its associated DP. The central claim is that form alone does not determine interpretation, and that the existence of alternatives does to a significant extent. The first part of the talk demonstrates this for resumptive pronouns and focuses on a correlation between interpretation and extraction. In non-island contexts, Hebrew has optional and obligatory resumptive pronouns. Optional resumptives block reconstruction of the RC head and also block extraction from the RC; obligatory resumptives allow reconstruction and also allow extraction, exactly like traces. I argue that (1) The possibility for reconstruction depends on the structure of the RC, and in particular the division into Matching and Raising RCs (Bhatt 2002; Sauerland 2004; Hulsey & Sauerland 2006), and (2) that the structure associated with reconstruction is best realized with a trace and is realized with a pronoun only if no trace alternative is available. The second part of the talk extends the alternatives-based analysis to agreement in Palestinian Arabic (PA). PA exhibits an alternation between full-Agr and no-Agr, and clauses with full-Agr lack inverse scope readings, analyzed as absence of reconstruction. This is related to the availability of an alternative structure in which agreement is absent, the surface position of the subject is low and its scope is fixed at that position.