The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LF Reading Group 3/7 - Itai Bassi (MIT)

Speaker: Itai Bassi
Title: Fake Indexicals without feature transmission
Date and time: Wednesday March 7, 1-2pm
Location: 32-D461

In a footnote, Partee (1989) mentioned that 1st person pronouns can be semantically bound (“fake indexicals”), pointing to sentence (1). That footnote generated a line of research (Kratzer 1998, Kratzer 2009, Wurmbrand 2017; Heim 2008) according to which bound variables (can) enter the syntactic derivation lacking interpreted phi-features, and inherit features from their binder at the PF branch, as a result of some “feature transmission” mechanism(s).

(1) I am the only one around here who will admit that I could be wrong
—> the speaker is the only individual in {x: x is willing to admit that x could be wrong}

In this talk I offer a formal syntax-semantics for this construction which derives a bound reading for (1) while maintaining that the bound “I” has its person feature interpreted, rendering feature transmission unnecessary. My proposal is to reduce (1) to focus constructions like (2), for which there are alternatives to the feature-transmission story (Bassi and Longenbaugh 2017, a.o.). I will thus propose, building on a suggestion made in Bhatt (2002), that the construction in (1) involves silent association with focus. In addition, I show how my proposal can account for the contrast between (1) and the minimally different (3), which does not have a bound reading for “I” and constitutes a problem for existing feature-transmission analyses (Wurmbrand, Kratzer).

(2) Only I will admit that I could be wrong

(3) I met the only one around here who will admit that I could be wrong (no bound reading)