Syntax and Semantics

Online ISSN: 0092-4563
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Article
This paper argues that the antilocality of anaphors like Kannada tannu is epiphenomenal. These elements may, in fact, be locally bound. In many cases where local binding obtains, however, independent principles relating to the interface of lexical and semantic representations rule the sentence out. Such restrictions are predicted to hold in all languages. What I will show is that the semantic representation of the antilocal reflexives differs from that of the reflexives which can be locally bound. The antilocal reflexives require complete identity with their antecedents while those anaphors which allow local binding can be loosely related to the referents of their antecedents by certain kinds of similarity to be made more precise below. Accordingly, the existence of two types of long-distance anaphor, local and antilocal, is not a syntactic fact and can be explained by independent principles of grammar relating to the semantic representation of reflexive predicates. Thus, no changes to the binding theory are required in order to explain the behavior of antilocal anaphors
 
Article
o be known as Binding. While a universalist approach to Binding as instantiated in the Binding Theory has provided strong support for Universal Grammar, it has long been known that in many languages some forms that can be used as local reflexives can also take antecedents outside their local domain (hereafter, long distance reflexives). For instance in Chinese, the reflexive ziji in (1) can be interpreted as referring to the matrix subject, the intermediate subject or the lowest subject: (1) Zhangsan i renwei Lisi j zhidao Wangwu k xihuan ziji i/j/k Zhangsan thinks Lisi knows Wangwu likes self 'Zhangsan thinks Lisi knows Wangwu likes self.' The question naturally arises whether these "exceptions" to Binding Theory are arbitrary (thereby seriously undercutting the universality of Binding Theory and leaving unexplained why so many anaphoric forms i
 
Article
INTRODUCTION This chapter discusses the blocking effect observed in long-distance (LD) bound bare reflexive ziji in Mandarin Chinese. Unlike the symmetrical unlikeperson blocking claimed in the literature (Huang & Tang 1991, Xue, Pollard, and Sag 1994), this chapter argues that (a) the blocking effect of ziji is not symmetrical: first and second person pronouns can block third person noun phrases (NP) from long distance binding ziji, though third person NPs do not necessarily block first or second person pronouns from long distance binding ziji; and (b) other grammatical functions filled by first and second person pronouns, not just subjects or NPs contained in the subject, can induce the blocking effect. The chapter claims that long distance bound ziji points to the carrier of belief, and reconstructs this notion as self-ascription. The blocking effect is explained by appealing to the fact that on
 
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this paper, I will propose an analysis of these verbs in terms of argument composition.
 
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Includes bibliographical references (leaf 33) Research reported herein was supported in part by the National Institute of Education. MS-NIE-C-400-76-0116 HEW-NIE-G-74-0007
 
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This introduction discusses some reasons for doing large-scale microvariation research on syntactic doubling. It provides an overview of the types of syntactic doubling phenomena attested so far, the issues that they raise and the types of analyses that have been proposed.
 
Percentage NP2 attachment to complex NPs containing locative or possessive modification  
Article
Much of the research on sentence processing has focused on discovering universal principles to explain parsing preferences. Recent cross-linguistic work, however, suggests that processing is sensitive to distributional information about individual languages. Along these lines, we explore a constraint-based approach to processing, in which cross-linguistic variation is explained by the interaction of language specific grammatical constraints with more general pragmatic principles. Specifically, we examine the role of pragmatic information in constraining the modification of complex noun phrases in English and Spanish. We first present data suggesting that, for both languages, initial comprehension is constrained in the same manner by pragmatic information. We then pursue an explanation of crosslinguistic differences in terms of pragmatic constraints on grammatical differences between the languages.
 
Article
This paper reports on an experimental study of the expression of genericity in the acquisition of English by native speakers of Spanish and Brazilian Por-tuguese, and in the acquisition of Brazilian Portuguese by native speakers of English and Spanish. English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese exhibit a three-way distinction in terms of which NP types are allowed with generic and kind interpretations. This difference leads to specific, testable predictions for the effects of cross-linguistic influence on the expression of genericity in second language acquisition. These predictions are tested in a small-scale study, by means of a written, context-based Acceptability Judgment Task. The results show that transfer from the learners native language has a limited effect, and is overridden by considerations of register and/or input frequency. The findings pose interesting questions for further research.
 
Article
The purpose of this chapter is to analyze the formal and interpretative properties of a construction in colloquial Spanish in which a change of state verb is repeated by an adjective in the presence of the degree modifier bien (e.g., secarlo bien seco 1/4 lit. "dry it good n' dry"). The analysis is presented within the framework of argument structure outlined in Hale and Keyser (2002), in which change of state verbs are decomposed into light verbal heads and adjectival complements. The main claim is that the degree modifier bien ( 1/4 "really") is unique in its capacity to attach to the adjectival subcomponent of change of state verbs. Its presence in that position forces the adjectival complement to be spelled out due to a general ban on stranding adjectival degree modifiers. The proposal provides new evidence in favor of syntactically decomposing verbs into subcomponents that describe different aspects of their meaning and are responsible for how their arguments are licensed/interpreted. Recent research has demonstrated that internal subcomponents of verbs are syntactically active and may be modified (Levinson, 2010). The main contribution of the paper is that there are cases in which internal subcomponents that are modified must be spelled out.
 
Article
This paper proposes some new ideas about the semantics and syntax of the Japanese adnominal demonstratives a-no, ko-no and so-no. Semantically it is claimed that, while conveying familiarity by means of the demonstrative prefixes a-, ko- and so-, they lack uniqueness or maximality, and that the whole demonstrative phrase is existentially quantified; -no either marks partitivity (without excluding maximality) in the deictic and anaphoric uses, or-in bridging uses-serves to fill an argument slot (lexically encoded inside the following NP or created contextually). This analysis is supported by (i) the availability of sluicing, (ii) the distribution of numeral classifiers, and (iii) the similar behavior of French partitive constructions with respect to the "consistency test". Syntactically, Japanese adnominal demonstratives are analyzed as NP-adjuncts, an assumption supported by three morpho-syntactic properties: (i) The demonstrative prefixes, ko-, so-, a-systematically display the same morphology as that of the WH-prefix do-; (ii) The Japanese demonstratives may be preceded by a restrictive modifier, like other adjunct modifiers; (iii) They behave with respect to the ellipsis of the following NP as other no-marked expressions clearly identified as adnominal adjuncts. These hypotheses further shed light on some data from L2 acquisition.
 
Article
This chapter discusses various phenomena from Bodensee-Alemannic which can be subsumed under the term 'doubling' in the sense that one (or even more) items seems to bear superfl uous or redundant information - at least if compared to the standardized languages. Classical examples are Doubly fi lled Comp or DO-insertion. The overall question that has to be answered in light of such constructions is whether the concept of economy (of derivation) is contradicted by them or not. This is dependent on whether analyses can be provided that give on the one hand plausible scenarios how the doubling resp. violations of economy came into existence, e.g., via interference - or on the other hand show that there is no economy violation under closer scrutiny. The latter (seemingly) doubling phenomena give us interesting clues about the fi ne-grained structure of certain constructions. I will discuss examples which illustrate both cases.
 
Article
Linguistic accounts of anaphor resolution propose that a pronominal can either be resolved by a grammatical operation in logical syntax (i.e., variable binding) or through value assignment in the discourse (i.e., coreference). A consistent finding in offline studies on the interpretation of ambiguous VPellipses is that bound-variable dependencies have a privileged status. The online evidence, on the other hand, is almost absent. In two experiments (one questionnaire and one eye-tracking experiment) we show that the binding preference is not solely an offline phenomenon, but can be detected in real-time measures of language comprehension. Furthermore, and in contrast to an earlier claim (Frazier & Clifton 2000), the bindingpreference of the language processor is not restricted to elliptic structures, but emerges in ambiguous structures with the only-operator as well. The implications of these results are discussed in the light of a linguistic model of anaphoric comprehension, that is, the Primitives of Binding framework (Reuland, 2001).
 
Article
This chapter provides an analysis of the syntactic and semantic differences between the ergative, transitive construction and the intransitive, antipassive construction in Inuit that also explains the use of the antipassive marker as a marker of inchoative aspect. The analysis relies on the notion of a scale or path that provides a measure for the change that an event participant undergoes, as well as the notion familiar from Distributed Morphology that an acategorial root combines with a verbalizing head. The antipassive suffix -si is analyzed as the head of a light verb that provides an event, and the complement to this light verb is a scale or path that provides the measure of change. In the antipassive, the oblique NP provides a scale, with the verbal root adjoined to -si as a manner component. In the inchoative, an intransitive VP provides the scale, with no manner element adjoined to the light verb. The transitive/antipassive alternation is seen as an alternation between a result/manner interpretation of the verbal root. Thus, the transitive/antipassive alternation is not simply a matter of changing the valency of the verb but involves changes of the scalar structure of the clause and the interpretation of the verbal root. The analysis of the polyfunctionality of the -si morpheme given here, which appeals to the scalar structure of the clause, suggests a new line of research for further explorations into the nature of middle marking in general.
 
Article
In colloquial and dialectal German (as well as in other languages), there exists a possessive construction which shows a kind of double marking on the morphological level: the combination of a DP-internal possessor(-DP) with a possessive pronoun, cf. (i). Thus it seems that the possessor is referred to twice: by the possessor-DP and the possessive pronoun. However, it will be argued that only the possessor-DP refers to the possessor, while the possessive pronoun marks the possessive relation (i.e., bears a POSS feature). (i) am Sepp sei Haus. the-DAT Joe his house The chapter consists of four sections: in Section 1 I will present data mostly from various German dialects, showing a certain range of variation in several respects; in Section 2 I am trying to show that (most of) these possessive constructions have in common an identical underlying structure; in Section 3 I am going to argue that double marking is by no means redundant, as commonly assumed; and in Section 4 I will draw some conclusions concerning lessons we can learn from the study of syntactic doubling phenomena.
 
Article
Voice and high Appl are both argued to introduce external arguments. However, at present, no theory proposes how Voice and Appl should be distinguished in argument structure. This chapter aims to address this question by examining morphological causatives in Korean, experiencer have in English, and experiencer constructions in Georgian. It is shown that Voice and high Appl are not in the same position in syntax, and that the semantics of Voice and high Appl are not the same; Voice is specified for agentivity, while high Appl is specified for non-agentivity. This chapter also suggests that there is an Appl that is syntactically different from high Appl, namely peripheral Appl. Although peripheral Appl is non-agentive like high Appl, peripheral Appl differs from high Appl in position -it merges above VoiceP. The proposed analysis broadens the scope of current configurational theories by arguing that the external argument-introducing heads Voice and Appl bear semantic content which restricts the types of arguments that can occur in their specifier position, showing that the mapping of semantics to syntax can be more complex than is normally assumed. In general, the mapping of semantics to syntax is thought to be many-to-one, as for example in the mapping of both agents and experiencers to subject position. In contrast, this chapter shows that one-to-one mapping is possible: agentive and non-agentive external argument roles are mapped to different positions.
 
Article
The goal of this chapter is to discuss a range of arguments against the widespread assumption that verbs take thematic arguments. The arguments are based on facts involving, among other things, distributive readings and variable verbal adicity. The chapter argues that there are few convincing arguments that verbs take thematic arguments. In particular, it deals with claims based on idioms and argues that these do not undermine the claim that verbs do not take thematic arguments. Possible consequences for the syntax-semantics interface are discussed, and it is claimed that the mapping should rely on the functional structure of the sentence. This chapter offers a comprehensive overview and discussion of many well-known facts, and a new way of looking at these facts and their implications for the syntax-semantics interface.
 
Article
Even in languages with a well-developed system of articles, such as Germanic and Romance languages, we find constructions in which the noun can appear without an article. This talk gives an overview of such 'weakly referential' bare constructions, and provides a roadmap for within and cross-linguistic variation. Bare nouns are sometimes in complementary distribution with the indefinite article (in predication, incorporation, with/without PPs), and sometimes with the definite article (en train vs. par le train, play (the) piano). There is a third class of bare constructions which is neither definite nor indefinite, but plural or quantificational in nature. Here we find bare coordination (mother and child), reduplication (English from door to door = many doors in succession) and bare PPs like Dutch per jaar (= each year). The three classes are subject to different constraints on within and cross-linguistic variation, due to the interaction of lexicon, syntax and semantics.
 
Article
Chapter Summary Russian imperfective sentences can be used to express quite different from each other interpretations, among them being the so-called (general-)factual interpretation. The article deals with bare singular noun phrases that appear as direct objects in Russian factual imperfectives. In the first part it is shown that these bare singulars behave like pseudo-incorporating, which means that they satisfy all of the conditions that pseudo-incorporating nominals are standardly considered to satisfy: they show number neutrality, have narrow scope with respect to negation, are reduced in discourse transparency, provide bad support for subsequent pronouns and give rise to establishedness effects. In the second part an analysis is presented that explains these “pseudo incorporation effects”. It is argued that factual imperfectives come with a specific information structure at the level of VP. Focus is exclusively on event realization, implying that the whole information about the kind of event realized is backgrounded. Under the assumption that backgrounded information is presupposed, constituents of the VP therefore contribute to the formation of the presupposed event kind. Bare singular direct objects are, accordingly, doomed to be interpreted at the kind-level, which can explain the above noted effects. Russian imperfective sentences can be used to express quite different from each other interpretations, among them being the so-called (general-)factual interpretation. The article deals with bare singular noun phrases that appear as direct objects in Russian factual imperfectives. In the first part it is shown that these bare singulars behave like pseudo-incorporating, which means that they satisfy all of the conditions that pseudo-incorporating nominals are standardly considered to satisfy: they show number neutrality, have narrow scope with respect to negation, are reduced in discourse transparency, provide bad support for subsequent pronouns and give rise to establishedness effects. In the second part an analysis is presented that explains these “pseudo incorporation effects”. It is argued that factual imperfectives come with a specific information structure at the level of VP. Focus is exclusively on event realization, implying that the whole information about the kind of event realized is backgrounded. Under the assumption that backgrounded information is presupposed, constituents of the VP therefore contribute to the formation of the presupposed event kind. Bare singular direct objects are, accordingly, doomed to be interpreted at the kind-level, which can explain the above noted effects.
 
Article
In the Tyrolean dialect of Meran, long movement of relative and whpronouns is characterized by doubling of the extracted element (and, in relatives, of the relative complementizer wos) in intermediate CP positions. In relatives, in addition, a resumptive pronoun structure can be observed whenever intermediate verbs select for the complementizer dass. It is shown that both doubling and resumptive pronoun structures show movement diagnostics: doubling structures are sensitive to islands and exhibit reconstruction effects, resumptive pronoun structures are not sensitive to islands but still show reconstruction effects. Moreover, both structures are marked when a heavy X or XP is doubled or resumed. An analysis in the framework of Optimality Theory is proposed where doubling is triggered by a hearer-oriented functional constraint favoring structures which are easy to process.
 
Article
In this paper we investigate discourse transparency of ‘pseudo-incorporated’ nominals in Persian, that is, the possibility of being taken up by anaphoric expressions in subsequent discourse. Persian Incorporated Nominals (INs) at first sight seem to belong to the class of discourse opaque languages such as Hindi and Hungarian. However under certain circumstances Persian bare nouns show discourse transparency. Similarly in Hungarian, Farkas and de Swart (2003) have shown singular incorporated nouns, despite being discourse opaque at first sight, may be referred back to, even though not by overt pronouns, but by expressions that arguably show covert anaphoric reference. Farkas & de Swart explain the problem of anaphoric reference to an incorporated antecedent by assuming that they do not introduce any discourse referent at all. Rather, if there is an anaphoric device that should be related to the bare noun, a suitable referent has to be created from the argument position of the verb of the antecedent clause. It is unclear why this can be achieved with a non-overt anaphoric device, but not with an overt pronoun. One would expect that the overt pronoun would have an easier time to force this change in the interpretation of a past clause.We propose as an alternative to the account of Farkas & de Swart that bare nouns actually do introduce a number neutral discourse referent. There are no overt anaphoric expressions that could match such number-neutral antecedents in Persian. But covert anaphora lack number features, and hence can serve as means to pick up a number-neutral discourse referent. Also, in case world knowledge tells us that the number-neutral discourse referent is anchored to an atomic entity or to a collection, then an overt singular pronoun or an overt plural pronoun might fit the combined linguistic and conceptual requirements, and may be used to pick up the number-neutral discourse referent. This proposal is phrased within Discourse Representation Theory. This paper presents various kinds of cases in which anaphoric reference is possible—the “translucent” cases—in the light of the theory proposed.
 
Article
In this paper we will examine Bare Plurals (henceforth BPs) and Bare Singulars (BSs) in Romance languages such as Romanian, Spanish and Catalan. The problem with (most) previous analyses was the lack of correlation between denotational type and semantic composition: BPs and BSs were assumed to be property-denoting but nevertheless subject to two different types of semantic composition, semantic incorporation (van Geenhoven 1996) and semantic pseudo-incorporation (Dayal 2003, Dobrovie-Sorin et al. 2005, 2006), respectively. Although they are defined as technically different, the two rules cannot help being basically identical, given the identity in denotational type of the nominal. And yet, we need to distinguish between the two types of bare nominals, given their clearly distinct distributions. Granting that BSs are indeed property-denoting, the main goal of the paper will be to analyze BPs—and more generally weak indefinites—as denoting existential generalized quantifiers. This analysis follows the line of Dobrovie-Sorin & Beyssade (2012), but substantially improves on it.
 
Top-cited authors
Lauri Karttunen
  • Stanford University
Stanley Peters
  • Stanford University
Emanuel A. Schegloff
  • University of California, Los Angeles
Elizabeth Ritter
  • Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Thomas / Givón
  • University of Oregon