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Detail of contribution

Auteur: Isabelle CHARNAVEL

Co-Auteur(s): Dominique SPORTICHE, University of California Los Angeles, United States

Binding Anaphors: what is the scope of Condition A and why?

Abstract/Résumé: One analytical problem underlying the difficulty of finding the right version of condition A of the binding theory and thus of deriving its effects is illustrated by the English sentences below: (i) John likes himself. (ii) *John says that Mary likes himself. (iii) John says that Mary likes everyone but himself. Plain anaphors subject to Condition A (cf. i and ii), and exempt anaphors not subject to it (cf. iii) are homophonous (e.g. English X self, Chinese ziji). In order to characterize the scope of condition A, some independent way must be found to separate plain from exempt cases. We propose a way to decide in French. While exactly how exempt anaphora functions is not known - there are many perhaps not incompatible proposals regarding what is involved e.g. logophoricity, perspective, point of view, empathy - there is a robust crosslinguistic generalization, namely that the antecedent of an exempt anaphor must be a person. This provides a way to directly investigate what is not covered under exempt anaphora, namely looking at the behavior of inanimate anaphors. This is what we do with two elements which we show are anaphoric, elle-même (lit. her-same, her-even) and son (his) as part of the expression son propre (his-own) understood as inducing focus alternatives on the possessor son (e.g. her own and not his own). Empirically, this investigation concludes that Chomsky’s (1986) formulation (anaphors must be bound within the smallest complete functional complex containing it and a possible binder) is correct, with one amendment: a tensed TP boundary is opaque to the search for antecedent. Why is such locality imposed on anaphora? Within current theories, this kind of locality can have two sources: Closest Attract or Phase Theory. Since the binder of an anaphor need not be the closest possible binder, and since there are absolute boundaries (tensed TP), closest attract is both too strong and too weak. We therefore argue that Phase theory is the source of Condition A’s locality. More precisely, we argue that condition A is a reflex of the requirement that “a (plain) anaphor contained in some spellout domain be interpreted at Spellout”.