Pronoun binding and the A/A-bar distinction

The background: It is standardly assumed that the bound reading interpretation of pronouns is subject to certain syntactic requirements. Thus Heim and Kratzer (1998) propose the following:

(1) Binding Principle

Let a and b be DPs, where b is not phonetically empty. Then a binds b syntactically at SS iff a binds b semantically at LF. (Heim and Kratzer (1998):264)

(2) Syntactic Binding

A node a syntactically binds a node b iff

a. a and b are co-indexed,

b. a c-commands b ,

c. a is in an A-position, and

d. a does not c-command any other node which also is co-indexed with b , c-commands b and is in an A-position. (Heim and Kratzer (1998):261)

(See also Lasnik and Stowell (1991), Hornstein (1995) and references therein.) One of the intended consequences of the definitions in (1) and (2) is that a pronoun can be bound by a quantifier if the quantifier binds the pronoun (i) at S-structure and (ii) from an A-position. The type of examples that are accounted for are the following:

(3) a. Everybodyi loves hisi mother

b. Every studenti seems to hisi advisor to know French

c. *Whoi does hisi mother love?

The problems: There are at least two problems in approaches like the one illustrated in (1)-(2).

First problem (conceptual): Under the assumptions of the Minimalist Program (Chomsky (1993) and seq.), the approach in (1) cannot be stated because it crucially relies on the existence of S-structure as a relevant level of representation. (Certainly, this problem is entirely conceptual and it would not be relevant if the Minimalist assumption is proven to be wrong.)

Second problem (empirical): The proposal in (1) rules out the possibility of having pronouns bound by quantifiers in an A-bar-position. However, the examples in (4) seem to indicate that this is possible. ((4)b raises the question of how to meet the c-command condition across the preposition. I will put that question aside.)

(4) a. [Every day]i John thinks that iti is the happiest of his life

b. [In every city]i I found someone who hates iti

Towards a solution: I would like to suggest that the appropriate account of bound pronouns relies on the distinction proposed in Lasnik (1999) between A and A-bar movement. Lasnik takes the lack of scope ambiguity that we find in (6), as opposed to the ambiguity that is found in (5), as an indication that A-movement cannot reconstruct (see also Zubizarreta (1982), Chomsky and Lasnik (1993), Chomsky (1995)). Lasnik derives the lack of A-movement reconstruction from a fundamental difference between A- and A-bar movement: A-bar movement leaves a trace but A-bar movement does not. Since Lasnik takes reconstruction to be the consequence of interpreting an element in its trace position, the lack of A-movement follows.

(5) It seems that everyone isnít there yet Q >> Neg, Neg >> Q

(6) Everyone seems not to be there yet Q >> Neg, *Neg >> Q

(Chomsky and Lasnik (1993), Chomsky (1995):326-7)

A solution: I would like to propose that the different behavior that we find between A- and A-bar-movement with respect to licensing of bound pronouns follows from Lasnikís proposal that A-movement does not leave a trace but A-bar-movement does. The examples in (3)b and (3)c show that whereas A-movement creates new pronoun binding possibilities, A-bar-movement does not. This follows if Lasnik is right, and the following holds:

(7) Bound Pronoun Interpretation Rule: A quantifier Q can bind a pronoun P iff all the copies of Q c-command P.

This proposal straightforwardly explains the contrast in (3). Crucially, it does so without relying on S-structure. More detailed structures of (3)b and (3)c appear in (8)a and (8)b, respectively.

(8) a. whoi does [hisi mother [love whoi]]

b. every studenti seems to hisi advisor [ ø to know French]

The bound reading interpretation is possible in (8)b because all the copies of the quantifier every student c-command the pronoun his. The bound reading interpretation is not allowed in (8)a because the pronoun his is not bound by all the copies of who. Importantly, under the present proposal there is no ban on pronoun binding from an A-bar position and hence the bound pronoun reading interpretation in (4) is ruled in, correctly.

Some motivation for (7): A question that arises is what the motivation for (7) is. I would like to suggest that binding properties are an integral part of the whole element, and therefore all the conditions related to binding must apply to all the members of the chain.

One further issue: According to Lebeaux (1995) and others, it is possible to have the bound pronoun reading interpretation in examples like (9). In order to obtain the appropriate binding configuration it is standardly assumed that the subject must be reconstructed to the embedded subject position. However, that proposal is incompatible with the present assumptions.

(9) Hisi mother seems to everybodyi to be the best

In order to account for (9), I will propose that the condition in (7) can be satisfied at any point in the derivation (following the line of work initiated by Belletti and Rizzi (1988) and Lebeaux (1988), and more recently developed in Epstein et al. (1998) and Ordóñez (1998)). Thus the bound reading interpretation in (9) is possible because at an earlier stage in the derivation, namely (10), all the copies of the quantifier (the only one in the structure) c-command the pronoun.

(10) seems to everybodyi [hisi mother to be the best]

Conclusion: Under the present proposal the fact that A-movement and A-bar-movement differ with respect to the possibility of creating new pronoun binding configurations does not need to be stipulated. It follows from two proposals: Lasnikís proposal that A-movement does not leave traces, but A-bar movement does, and the present proposal that binding is a property of the whole element and that all the elements of the chain must satisfy the structural configuration required to license the bound reading interpretation.

Selected references:

Epstein, Samuel D., Erich M. Groat, Ruriko Kawashima, and Hisatsugu Kitahara. 1998. A derivational approach to syntactic relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Heim, Irene, and Angelika Kratzer. 1998. Semantics in generative grammar. Malden, MA.: Blackwell.

Lasnik, Howard. 1999. Chains of arguments. In Working minimalism, ed. Samuel D. Epstein and Norbert Hornstein, 189-215. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Lebeaux, David. 1988. Language acquisition and the form of the grammar. Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Lebeaux, David. 1995. Where does the Binding Theory apply? In Maryland Working Papers in Linguistics, Vol. 3, 63-88. College Park, MD: University of Maryland.

Ordóñez, Francisco. 1998. Post-verbal asymmetries in Spanish. NLLT: 313-346.