Academic journal article Style

Remarks on English Long-Distance Anaphora

Academic journal article Style

Remarks on English Long-Distance Anaphora

Article excerpt

The phenomenon of long distance reflexives/long distance anaphora (LDA) has been extensively discussed in recent years, with for example at least two full volumes of papers devoted specifically to this topic (Koster and Reuland; Cole, Hermon, and Huang). A notable feature of both these volumes is the absence of any paper devoted specifically to LDA in English. Given the central role which the study of English has played in the development of post-1957 grammatical investigation, this notable lacuna raises the possibility that it might be widely accepted that English simply lacks LDA! Viewed superficially, there are certain grounds for such a view.

For instance, a common type of LDA in various languages involves antecedence by a main clause subject of a reflexive found in a complement clause, often subjunctive, as in the Icelandic example in 1a cited in Ruth Reeves. English analogs would be cases like 1b and c and the starred versions of 1d:

(1) a. Jon(i) telur a Maria hafi sviki sig(I) 'J believes that M has SBJ betrayed self'

b. *[Roy.sub.1] insisted that you call [himself.sub.1]

c. *Larrainet wished that they would hire [herself.sub.1].

d. [John.sub.i] thinks [Tom.sub.j] knows [Bill.sub.k] likes [himself.sub.*i/*j/k]. (Cole, Hermon, and Lee)

So English seems to systematically lack grammatical versions of sentences like 1a, giving some apparent support to a view that LDA may be an option absent from English grammar. Nonetheless, my goal here is to argue that English not only has LDA bur has a number of different types. (2)

The principal argument for the conclusion that English has LDA will involve appeal to the feature of de se interpretation. Gennaro Chierchia claimed that it is systematically the case that LDA involves de se interpretation, a point much stressed by Reeves, who was a major stimulus of the present work) With respect to this notion, Reeves states: "Without going into a formal description of this difference, we can observe that the distinction between the two cases turns on whether or not the speaker asserts that a particular kind of epistemic state holds of some entity referred to in that assertion." This type of interpretation (see also Landau, "Movement" 486) can vaguely be described as closely related to a first person interpretation of a (non-first person) pronominal form. (4) So consider example 2:

(2) The injured [veteran.sub.1] believes [he.sub.1] has been mistreated.

Even in interpretations where the subject of believes antecedes the pronominal subject of the complement, there are two distinct readings. On the de se reading, the example would correctly represent the veteran of relevance as saying if questioned: "Yes, I believe I have been mistreated." In other words, under the de se meaning, the subject of a verb like believe is specified as being aware of the identity of the entity referred to in the complement. On the other, the non-de se reading, in which the individual denoted by the injured veteran is unaware that the person mistreated is himself, sentence 2 would correctly characterize the situation of the veteran as saying, "Yes, I believe he has been mistreated." But under an anaphoric reading of the relation between main clause subject and he, the user of 2 indicates in the non-de se reading that the two DPs, the injured veteran and he, nonetheless denote the same individual.

Reeves observes that de se interpretation depends on an animate, usually human, denotation for the antecedent nominal. This requires, as Reeves indicates, that to the extent Chierchia's claim is correct for a class of LDA cases, these should, personification aside, be limited to animate nominals. This is of course not a general feature of reflexives as such, as 3 illustrates for English:

(3) a. Such [problems.sub.1] don't solve [themselves.sub.1].

b. That [danger.sub.1] made [itself.sub.1] felt soon after. …

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