The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Syntax Square 5/9 - Mitya Privoznov (MIT)

Speaker: Mitya Privoznov (MIT)
Title: Coordinate Structure Constraint, CED, and Spell Out
Time: Tuesday, May 9th, 1pm – 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: It has been argued that in a coordinate construction, as in (1), the connective forms a constituent with the second conjunct: [X [and Y]] (see, e.g., Ross, 1967; Pesetsky, 1982).

(1) I [went home [and ate dinner]].

It has also been argued that the connective is the head of the coordinate structure (see, e.g., Melčuk, 1974; Paducheva, 1974; Paducheva and Zaliznyak, 1979; Munn, 1987, 1992, 1993; Larson, 1990; Johannessen, 1993, 1998; Citko, 2005; Zhang, 2010). In other words, in (1), when and is merged with ate dinner, and projects; and when went home is merged with and ate dinner, the latter projects. Thus, we arrive at the ConjP/CoP/&P structure with the second conjunct being the complement of and (Conj, Co, &) and the first one being a specifier of ConjP/CoP/&P. At the same time, since Ross (1967), it has been known that in most cases, in a coordinate structure, nothing can be extracted from either conjunct (Coordinate Structure Constraint, CSC). At the same time, Ross (1967) already points out certain systematic exceptions to CSC, which have been further discussed by Goldsmith (1985), Lakoff (1986) and Postal (1998), among others.

In this talk, I will propose a preliminary version of an analysis of coordinate structures like (1) which involves structural ambiguity. More precisely, I suggest that coordinate constructions, as in (1), are, in fact, ambiguous between three parses: (a) [XP=YP XP YP] structure (where both XP and YP are maximal projections); (b) [XP X’ YP] structure, originally proposed by Postal (1998), where the second conjunct is an adjunct to the first; and (c) ConjP/CoP/&P structure. Notably, the syntactic category (and the lexical semantics) of and is the same across all the three parses. The ambiguity is syntactic, though it may have pragmatic effects (cf. Bjorkman 2010, 2013, 2014, Bassi and Bondarenko 2021). I will present some preliminary evidence from Russian, which shows certain advantages of such an account in explaining: (a) the overt morphology of coordinate structures in Russian and potentially cross-linguistically; (b) the extraction properties of coordination and the “violable” status of CSC; (c) the presupposition projection profile of conjunction; (d) the distribution of overt connectives and group readings in Russian DP-conjunctions.