The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LF Reading Group 4/10 - Shrayana Haldar (MIT)

Speaker: Shrayana Haldar (MIT)
Title:Fixing Engdahl’s Type-Shifter and Heim’s Unary Which
Time: Wednesday, April 10th, 1pm – 2pm
Location: 32-D461

Abstract: Engdahl’s (1986) account of functional readings of sentences like (1) involved having the pronoun herself bound upstairs by a covert binder E, given in (2), while having a totally impoverished trace (i.e., just “t”, without any restrictor) with a complex index; that is, “tf(x) “. The E operator also does the job of shifting the restrictor to type ⟨ee, t⟩, without which the functional reading wouldn’t be possible. Heim (2019) pointed out that having the pronoun bound upstairs like this cannot derive ϕ-feature agreement between the pronoun and the antecedent quantifier, in this case, no girl, and binding theoretic effects like *Which picture of herself1 did no girl’s1 father submit?. Motivated by this reason, she proposed to have an LF like the one in (3), where which is unary (because it attaches directly and only to the question skeleton) and polymorphic (because it needs to be able to quantify over ⟨e, e⟩-type functions). Moreover, she proposed to have the whole restrictor picture of herself is in situ, getting syntactically bound by no girl, thereby avoiding the ϕ-featural and Binding Theoretic issues.

(1) Which picture of herself1 did no girl1 submit?
      Functional reading:
      Which function, fee, that maps entities to a pictures of those entities, is such that, for no girl, xx submitted f(x)?
      Possible answer:
      Her wedding picture.
(2) 〚Ey ζg ,w = λfee . ∀x . 〚ζgx/y(f(x)) = 1
(3) [which] did no girl1 submit [picture of herself1]?
My claim in this talk is that (a) which can’t be unary after all, because, for sentences like (4) — where a functional reading is equally possible — we need LFs like (5), where which does need a restrictor upstairs, the relative clause that’s late merged/not neglected (depending on what view one subscribes to); and (b) to interpret such structures, we do need a covert morpheme very much like (2), but slightly different in that the assignment function isn’t modified in the metalanguage in the lexical entry (6).\ This covert morpheme, that I call , is necessary to shift the ⟨e, t⟩-type relative clause to an ⟨ee, t⟩-type predicate, which will make the functional reading possible.
(4) Which picture that John1 liked did he1 show no girl?
      Functional reading:
      Which function, fee, that maps entities to entities that John liked, is such that, for no girl, x, John showed x f(x)?
      Possible answer:
      The picture she hated.
(5) [which [that John1 liked]] did he1 show no girl2 [picture [f pro2]]
(6) 〚〛= λPet . λf ee . ∀x[x ∈ codom(f) → P(x) = 1]
Time permitting, I will discuss metasemantic motivations for ruling out the possibility of lexical entries like (2), while preserving the possibility of having lexical entries like (6). I will couch this is in terms of a specific limitation that semantic reconstruction has been argued to be subject to and I will show that it’s exactly the machinery that’s required for this forbidden kind of semantic reconstruction that’s also required to categorematize Engdahl’s E operator. This, I will argue, supports my claim that entries like (6) are permitted in natural language, while entries like (2) are not.