The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 11/23 - Matt Tucker

Please join us for Syntax Square this week. Matt Tucker, from UCSC (currently visiting at UPenn), will be leading the discussion.

Speaker: Matthew A. Tucker (UCSC)
Title: Even More on The Anaphor Agreement Affect: When Binding Does Not Agree
Time: Tuesday, November 23, 1-2PM
Place: 32-D461

Many recent proposals have taken Principle A to be reducible to the syntactic relation of AGREE (e.g., Chomsky, 2008), understood to be established between a locally c-commanding functional head and the anaphoric element. In this talk I discuss the so-called Anaphor Agreement Effect (AAE; Rizzi, 1990; Woolford, 1999, et seq.) and show that it is counter-evidence to the claim that binding is mediated by local inflectional heads. I then propose a theory of Principle A effects which meets four theoretical desiderata: (i) anaphoric binding is an instance of AGREE, (ii) the anaphor receives agreement features directly from the antecedent, (iii) AGREE can only operate downward, and (iv) the anaphor does not move to a position c-commanding the antecedent before binding is established. This theory is shown to provide an elegant understanding of AAE effects in subject, object, and possessor positions cross-linguistically. Finally, I explore the implications of this proposal for the typology of reflexives and the contrast between local and long-distance anaphora.