Thursday April 30th

Speaker: Milan Rezac & Mélanie Jouitteau (CNRS,IKER)

Title: Anaphoric relationships of phi-deficient pronouns

Date: Thursday April 30th

Venue: Huizinga 4

Time: 15:15 – 16:30 hrs


We investigate the remarkable relationship French impersonal pronoun on has to anaphoric pronouns. On the one hand, like the implicit agent of the passive (1) and unlike definites, indefinite (2) or quantifiers, on mostly cannot antecede anaphoric personal pronouns at all, as in (3)b. Remarkably, there is one exception where impersonal on patterns with other DPs against the implicit agent: on can antecede s-pronouns (possessives son, sa, ses; strong pronoun soi) but only under c-command and locality to on (as in (3)a).

(m, n, possibly m=n: ≈ his/her, not one’s)

(1)   Ici    quand je suis invitéAgent=i dans sa*i/m       maison,

here when   I  am   invited        in     his/her    house

        …je rencontre ses*i/n      amis.

I   meet         his/her   friends

(2)  Ici    quand une personnei nous invite     dans sai/m    maison,

here  when     a       person        1p     invites     in  his/her house

        … je rencontre sesi/n    amis.

I   meet        his/her friends

(3)  a. Ici    quand   oni  nous  invite  dans   sai/m    maison,

here  when   man  1p     invites   in     his/her house

b. … je rencontre ses*i/n     amis.

I   meet         his/her  friends

(4)  Onj   n’     est  jamais trop  fier     de { sesi/j/m idées  / soii/j/*m}

one   neg   is   never   too   proud  of    his      ideas / himself

        quand  sesi/*j/n  projets   échouent.

when    his       projects  fail

That seems to have no parallel outside idioms: in English or French there is, to a first approximation, no other DP, definite, indefinite, or quantifier, that is restricted to local anaphora, nothing that would behave in the manner of a hypothetical one* in (4): Onei* is never too proud of {onei‘s ideas, oneselfi} when one*i‘s projects fail. The s-pronouns themselves are otherwise anaphoric to 3rd person DPs, and when they have independent uses they are 3s, not at all comparable to the meaning of on. We present an account of this relationship in terms of the phi-deficiency of impersonal on that restricts it to anteceding phi-deficient pronouns. We cast our analysis in the ‘minimal pronoun’ proposal of Kratzer (2009), where pronouns can be born phi-less, but when phi-less need to establish a syntactic dependency to an antecedent to repair the deficiency for interface reasons, and that dependency is necessarily interpreted as λ-binding.

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