The Syntax of Anaphora

The Syntax of Anaphora

The Syntax of Anaphora

The Syntax of Anaphora

Synopsis

In this work, Ken Safir develops a comprehensive theory on the role of anaphora in syntax. First, he contends that the complementary distribution of forms that support the anaphoric readings is not accidental, contrary to most current thinking, but rather should be derived from a principle, one that he proposes in the form of an algorithm. Secondly, he maintains that dependent identity relations are always possible where they are not prohibited by a constraint. Lastly, he proposes that there are no parameters of anaphora - that all anaphora-specific principles are universal, and that the patterns of anaphora across languages arise entirely from a restricted set of lexical properties. This comprehensive consideration of anaphora redirects current thinking on the subject.

Excerpt

When I first began to write the book that this one was to emerge from, I had it in mind to present a comprehensive theory of anaphora that would serve not only as a theoretical monograph supporting new proposals, but also as a handbook for the study of anaphora from an unabashedly theoretical perspective. Since I believe that too much work on anaphora is insufficiently defended over the broad range of anaphoric phenomena, I intended to defend proposals on the nature of dependency relations and weak crossover phenomena, on reconstruction and ellipsis, as well as on the issues surrounding the syntactic and discourse restrictions distribution of anaphoric forms and pronouns. I intended to present case studies of quite a number of languages of different sorts, highlighting not only the successes of my approach across a broad range of data, but also some of the shortcomings so as to pave the way for better theories that would refute mine someday.

This precursor book, which I have taken to calling the ur-book, would have been nearly 600 printed pages long, and when I told this to my first publisher, with whom I had a contract for a 200-page book, she abandoned the project sight unseen. A year later, on the advice of some gentle readers and every publisher I spoke to, I had carved up the ur-book into more digestible parts, of which the present volume is one.

This book focuses on the need for a competitive theory of anaphora and on a concrete proposal for a particular competitive theory that has consequences for the architecture of natural language grammars. In creating this focus for the book, I abstracted away, as much as possible, from anaphoric dependencies not ruled by competitive principles, including dependency relations across sentences, reconstruction effects, antireconstruction effects, and any bound variable interpretations that are not immediately relevant to the competitive principles I propose. My theoretical approach to these other phenomena are reserved for Safir (2004), entitled The Syntax of . . .

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