University of Delaware, 1996
Human languages make use of two mechanisms for the expression of reflexivity. Some languages use a verbal affix while others use a special anaphoric pronoun. These mechanisms are not mutually exclusive, however. The research in this thesis is driven by the question of how many systems are needed to account for this variability. Is the system governing the distribution of verbal reflexives completely independent of the system governing the distribution of nominal reflexives? If not, to what extent do these systems overlap or interact? I propose that the distribution of verbal reflexives is determined primarily by argument-structure representations while the distribution of nominal reflexives is determined primarily by syntactic representations. We do find, however, certain cases of overlap. In these cases, the existence of two systems is precisely what is required to achieve a level of explanatory adequacy.
Chapter 2 begins with the observation that there is a systematic cross-linguistic ambiguity in verbal reflexives. The ambiguity stems from a single argument-structure representation which is compatible with a range of semantic and syntactic structures. As such, verbal reflexives provide compelling evidence for the existence of argument-structure as an independent level of representation providing an interface between syntax and lexical-semantics. This chapter relies heavily on data from Kannada, as well as many unrelated languages.
Chapter 3 extends the analysis of Chapter 2 to cross-linguistically variable properties of verbal reflexives. Verbal reflexives used in antipassive, middle and impersonal constructions are shown to be consistent with the analysis of Chapter 2 and not with any of the other potential analyses of verbal reflexives.
Chapter 4 turns to an outstanding problem for the binding theory. It is shown that the behavior of antilocal anaphors is not due to parameterization of the binding theory or to the featural content of the anaphors but rather to an interaction between the semantic content of the anaphors and Condition R, a principle of UG which forces semantic reflexivity to be expressed in the argument-structure. The binding theory is constant for all languages. What varies across languages is the semantic content of the anaphors. Only those anaphors which require complete identity with their antecedents are antilocal, their antilocality arising from Condition R. The other anaphors, which I call "near-reflexives" are not antilocal because they do not give rise to semantic reflexivity and thus do not interact with Condition R.