The Meaning of Chains

U. Sauerland, 1998

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This thesis investigates the mechanisms applying in the interpretation of syntactic chains.  The theoretical background includes a translation of syntactic forms into semantic forms and a model theoretic explication of the meaning of semantic forms.  Simplicity considerations apply to all three stages of the interpretation process: syntactic derivation, translation into semantic forms, interpretation of semantic forms.

Three main results are achieved.  The first is that trace positions can have semantic content beyond what is needed for the semantic dependency of trace and binder.  This extra contenet is some or all of the lexical material of the head of the chain, as expected on the copy theory of movement.  Two independent arguments support this conclusion.  One, discussed in chapter 2, is based on the distribution of Condition C effects, where novel interactions between variable binding, antecedent contained deletion and Condition C are observed.  The second, developed in chapter 3, is based on conditions on the identity of traces observed in antecedent contained deletion constructions.  Both arguments lead to the same generalizations about what lexical material of the head is interpreted in the trace position.

The second main result is that lambda calculus is superior to both standard predicate logic and combinatorial logic as the mathematical model for the semantic mechanism mediating the dependency of trace (or bound pronoun) and binder.  Chapter 4 argues this on the basis of the distribution of focus and destressing in constructions with bound pronouns.

The third main result is that quantification must be allowed to range over pointwise different choice functions.  Chapter 5 shows that quantification over individuals is sufficient, and that pointwise different choice functions are required.  The result entails that the syntactic difference of A-chains and A-bar chains predicts a semantic difference in the type of the variable involved, which is argued to explain weak crossover phenomena.

Chapter 6 argues that the interpretation procedures developed in the preceding chapters account for all cases.  It is shown that only traces of the type of individuals arise, and that scope reconstruction is a phonological phenomenon.  The latter result also supports the T-model of syntax.

Table of Contents

1          Introduction                                                                                                      13

            1.1       Background assumptions                                                                      14

            1.2       Overview                                                                                             17

2          Binding into Traces                                                                                           29

            2.1       Scope, Condition C and Antecedent Contained Deletion                       34

            2.2       Variable binding and Condition C                                                          43

            2.3       The A/A-bar distinction                                                                        54

            2.4       Relative clause internal traces                                                                60

                        2.4.1    Two LF-structures for relative clauses                           65

                        2.4.2    The internal head of matching relatives                           75

            2.5       Summary                                                                                              88

3          Identity of Traces                                                                                              93

            3.1       A copy identity account of Kennedy’s puzzle                             99

            3.2       Semantic content of the trace                                                                113

            3.3       Wh-traces and focus in chains                                                               137

                        3.3.1    Pseudogapping and traces                                                         141

                        3.3.2    Focus and wh-traces                                                                144

                        3.3.3    Domain expansion and focus index sloppiness               161

            3.4       Summary                                                                                              180

4          Linking Trace and Antecedent                                                               185

            4.1       Variable or combinators                                                                        192

                        4.1.1    Forcing different indices                                                            203

                        4.1.2    Forcing index identity                                                                206

            4.2       Predicates or formulas                                                                          227

            4.3       Summary                                                                                              234

5          Interpreting Moved Quantifiers                                                              237

            5.1       A choice function approach to all quantifiers                                          240

            5.2       Predictions of the approach                                                                   263

            5.3       Summary                                                                                              266

6          Conclusion/Outlook                                                                                          269

            6.1       The type of traces                                                                                 270

            6.2       Scope (or total) reconstruction                                                  276

                        6.2.1    A PF-movement account of scope reconstruction                      280

                        6.2.2    The scope freezing generalization                                               284