The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling Lunch 4/14 - Despina Oikonomou

Speaker: Despina Oikonomou (MIT)
Title: Sloppy pro in Greek: an E-type analysis
Time: Thursday, April 14th, 12:30-1:50 pm
Place: 32-D461

It has been observed that null subjects (NSs) in Japanese allow a sloppy interpretation whereas NSs in Romance languages do not (Oku 1998). This difference has led to the idea that NSs in Japanese-type languages is an instance of argument ellipsis whereas in Spanish-type languages they are silent pronouns (Oku 1998, Saito 2007, Takahashi 2007). However, Duguine (2014) provides empirical evidence for the availability of sloppy readings in Spanish and Basque NSs and argues for a unitary approach of NSs as Argument DP-Ellipsis.

In this talk, I show that sloppy readings are also available in Greek NSs (1), but I provide evidence against a DP-Ellipsis analysis. I argue instead that the sloppy NSs in Greek are E-type pronouns (`paycheck’ pronouns (Cooper 1979)) in the sense of Elbourne’s (2001) approach.

(1) A: i   Maria ipe   oti     to   agapimeno tis       fagito ine o musakas.
+++ the Maria said that the favorite     her.Poss food is the moussaka
+++ ‘Maria said that her favorite food is moussaka.’

+ B: i   Yoko ipe   oti ∅   ine to sushi.
++ the Yoko said that ∅ is the sushi
++ ‘Yoko said [it] is sushi.’
√Sloppy reading: Yoko said that Yoko’s favorite food is sushi.

Elbourne (2001) analyzes E-type pronouns as a determiner plus NP-Ellipsis. I show that sloppy interpretation becomes available when the antecedent involves a relational as opposed to a sortal noun. This contrast follows from Elbourne’s analysis; in relational nouns the possessor is an argument of the NP (Barker 1991), therefore it is present in the elided NP and can be bound. Object clitics behave in a similar way, allowing sloppy interpretations under certain conditions (cf. Giannakidou & Merchant 1997). A new question arises as to whether an E-type analysis of sloppy NSs is applicable in Japanese as well (Miyagawa 2015).