The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 3/17 - Coppe van Urk

Speaker: Coppe van Urk (MIT)
Title:Pronoun copying in Dinka and the realization of copies
Time: Tuesday 3/17, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

In a number of cases, pronouns seem to be able to spell out more articulated copies of lexical DPs. This has been argued for resumptive pronouns in many languages (e.g. Aoun et al. 2001; Boeckx 2003; Sichel 2014) and also for clitic doubling, subject doubling, and wh-copying (e.g. Felser 2004; Bruening 2006; Holmberg and Nikanne 2008; Harizanov, to appear). In this talk, I present further evidence for this claim from a pattern of pronoun copying in the Nilotic language Dinka (South Sudan). In Dinka, long-distance extraction of any plural noun phrase, regardless of person or complexity, is accompanied by the appearance of a 3rd person plural pronoun at the edge of each verb phrase on the path of movement. I show that similar number asymmetries are attested in resumption and subject doubling. On the basis of this, I propose that copies may undergo partial spell-out, targeting just the phi-layer, resulting in a pronoun. This allows us to connect the asymmetry in Dinka pronoun copying to a general asymmetry in how number is spelled out in the language.