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PRONOUNS FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
Relatore Prof. Roberto Zamparelli
Laureando Pietro Viviani
Anno Accademico 2011/2012
1. INTRODUCTION TO PRONOUNS...............................................................................3 1.1 PREFACE................................................................................................................................3 1.2 CONTENT WORDS AND FUNCTION WORDS ...................................................................................3 1.3 A SHORT INTRODUCTION ABOUT PRONOUNS’ USE.........................................................................4 2. TYPE OF PRONOUNS IN ENGLISH AND ITALIAN.................................................5 2.1 PRONOUNS CATEGORIES...........................................................................................................5 2.2 PERSONAL PRONOUNS ..............................................................................................................5 2.2.1 SUBJECT PRONOUNS ..............................................................................................................6 2.2.2 OBJECT PRONOUNS ...............................................................................................................8 2.3 ABSOLUTE PRONOUNS ...........................................................................................................11 2.4 REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS ..........................................................................................................12 2.5 RECIPROCAL PRONOUNS ........................................................................................................14 2.6 POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS .........................................................................................................15 2.7 DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS ..................................................................................................16 2.8 INDEFINITE PRONOUNS ...........................................................................................................18 2.9 RELATIVE PRONOUNS.............................................................................................................19 2.10 ON WHICH PRONOUN TYPES WILL BE THE FOCUS?...................................................................21 3. HISTORY OF ENGLISH PERSONAL PRONOUNS..................................................21 3.1 WHY TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE HISTORY OF PERSONAL PRONOUNS?.........................................21 3.2 THE MODERN PERSONAL PRONOUNS’ ANCESTORS: OLD ENGLISH PRONOUNS ................................22 3.3 CHANGES THAT AFFECT PRONOUNS WHICH MOVE AWAY FROM OLD ENGLISH PRONOUN PARADIGM. 23 3.3.1 SCANDINAVIAN BORROWINGS IN THE THIRD-PERSON PLURAL PRONOUN.........................................23 3.3.2 THE APPEARANCE OF ITS AND YOU IN MIDDLE ENGLISH............................................................24 3.3.3 THE TRANSLATIONS OF THE BIBLE DURING THE RENAISSANCE AND THE CHANGE FROM THOU TO YOU .................................................................................................................................................25 3.4 WHEN THE PHENOMENA OF NULL DUMMY SUBJECT AND PRO-DROP BEGAN TO APPEAR....................26 3.4 SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION ABOUT SUBJECT PERSONAL PRONOUNS’ ETYMOLOGY............................29 4. SYNTAX OF PRONOUNS.............................................................................................31 4.1 WHY FOCUSING ON HOW PRONOUNS COMBINE WITH OTHER WORDS ............................................31 4.2 AN OVERVIEW OF X-BAR THEORY...........................................................................................31 4.3 PRONOUNS IN THE X-BAR THEORY..........................................................................................34 4.4 THE CLAUSAL SUBSTITUTED BY IT AND THE PSEUDOCOMPLEMENT................................................38 4.5 C(ONSTITUENT)-COMMAND.....................................................................................................39 4.6 WHAT IS THE BINDING THEORY...............................................................................................40 4.7 THE BINDING CONDITION A....................................................................................................43 4.8 THE BINDING CONDITION B....................................................................................................45 4.9 THE BINDING CONDITION C....................................................................................................48 4.10 BINDING VS COREFERENCE...................................................................................................49 4.11 CONDITIONS OF SYNTACTIC AND SEMANTIC BINDING.................................................................51 5.PRONOUNS FROM THE PSYCHOLINGUISTICS PERSPECTIVE.......................53 5.1 WORDS’ RETRIEVING AND LEXICAL REPRESENTATION IN BILINGUALS ..........................................53 5.2 PRIMING EFFECT APPLIED TO PRONOUNS...................................................................................57
5.3 STRUCTURAL EFFECTS CONCERNING PRONOUN REFERENCE..........................................................58 5.4 INTERFACE IN BILINGUALISM DUE TO PRONOUNS BETWEEN GREEK, RUSSIAN AND GERMAN, WITH ENGLISH....................................................................................................................................61 5.5 SYNTACTIC ATTRITION FOR NEAR-NATIVE ITALIAN (L2) IN INTERPRETING SENTENCES WITH PRONOUNS..................................................................................................................................64 LIST OF SYMBOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS:..............................................................67 REFERENCES:...................................................................................................................68 BIBLIOGRAPHY:...........................................................................................................................68 SITOGRAPHY...............................................................................................................................70
1. INTRODUCTION TO PRONOUNS
The purpose of this thesis is to study English pronouns form different perspectives and comparing them when it is possible. This approach will enable us to discover the global behaviour of pronouns; as every view will enrich with diverse information about them. It would be reductive to talk specifically about pronouns only referring to grammar because, for example, it would only give us a set of theoretic knowledge that is not always true in the language in use. I report the famous words of De Saussure: “It is the point of view that shape the object” because during this thesis we will see how pronouns and their syntactic rules can change their shape according to the lens we are using. Firstly, we will deal with pronouns’ classification and the rules behind their morphology, with particular attention to a contrastive English-Italian approach, highlighting differences and ambiguities. Secondly, we will see the history of English pronouns, their evolution from to Old English to present-day language. Thirdly, we will consider pronouns according to the English syntactic rules and what is their role within the X-bar theory and the binding theory. Finally, we will analyze pronouns from the psycholinguistics angle, thus, through empirical data, which will mainly concerns some typical phenomena of bilingual speaker such as pro-drop, which is a term coined for the necessity to explain the omission of subject pronouns.
1.2 Content words and function words
In order to start to tackle with pronouns an essential words’ distinction has to be made: we need to divide words in two large groups: content word and function words. The first are those which carry meaning like table, television, flag, orange. This word class comprises verbs, nouns, adjectives, and some adverbs. But not all words have intrinsic meaning: words like have, or, but, the, is are called “grammatical” or “function words” because they do not have a content or referent but they function like the “glue” that keeps the
other words together or connect them. Even for pronouns, words such as she, there, it, are very hard to assign a specific meaning unless we know what they refer to. All function words become units of meaning only when they are placed with other words in a sentence. Certainly, many phrases would be meaningless without function words, for example: standing home could be “I/you/he/she/it/we/they am/is/are/was/were/has been/have been/had been standing in/outside the home”. Given these examples it is clear that lexical words have a content that enables us to transmit the main idea to another person. Of course, when foreigners who do not know a language and need to communicate they may start speaking employing mainly content words. However, for correct communication the content lexicon is not enough. It is also extremely important to consider grammar with its rules, such as verb forms; and to know how function words work. Since function words work as semantic glue between words and are essential to communicate properly, they are more frequent than every content word in any text. Indeed, according to the Oxford English Corpus subject pronouns are among the thirty most common words in English, together with other function words. Predictably at the first place we find the determiner the.
1.3 A short introduction about pronouns’ use
“Teacher (annoyed): «Marco, name two pronouns». Marco (waking up suddenly): «Who, me?»”1 Among the most common function words in English are pronouns which are used to substitute nouns and noun phrases (a constituent formed by a determiner plus a noun). Their function is also suggested by the etymology of the word pronouns that in English has been first recorded in 1520 and derives from pro- and noun; the words joined together in Middle French pronom, which comes from the Latin pronomen, from pro- “in place of” + nomen “name, noun”. At any rate, further in this dissertation we will see how this etymology is incomplete, because pronouns can also be merely employed as bound-variable not just as a replacement for a noun. Moreover, they can also replace a non-nominal category. A more successful definition of pronouns’ usage according to Matte Bon (2000) is that they are “used for referring to the grammatical persons and can be defined in relation with speaking and with the persons who take part in the discourse: addresser, addressee of the message and third person; the latter is not directly involved in the communication, however it is mentioned.”2 Everyone unconsciously makes use of pronouns to refer to people inside and outside the text. Actually, in a full text (written or oral) pronouns are not the only element that function as referents, for instance think about the adverb there or here, which has to refer to a place. Thus, we make an overall diction between exophoric and endophoric reference;
Riley, C. About English, p. 104 Alida Ares, De la gramática normativa a la grámatica del texto, p 65
the former is located outside the text and comprises the elements of a text that refer to an extra-linguistic reality that includes time (when the text was written), place (where), the author (by whom); the latter is located inside the text, specifically it includes all those pronouns that refer backward or forward to an element within the text. This lead us to a second distinction between context and co-text: the first according to Verschueren (1999) encompasses the common physical, mental and social world knowledge shared by the addresser and the addressee, it is not just the physical situation surrounding the speakers 3; the second affects the information encoded inside the text and can be of two types:
anaphora: it is related to something said before (1.1); (1.1) It is raining, for this I’m going home.
cataphora: it is related to something said after (1.2). (1.2) What your brother did was to rent the flat.
In the example above we see that the anaphora and cataphora (or forward anaphora) function are not realized only by pronouns, but anyway they are the primary cases in usage. Further in the dissertation we will see that “studying pronominal anaphora represents a fascinating window on language as a cognitive system that consists of specific and often complex mental computations and the relations that takes place within these computations, including the syntax and systems of interpretation and use of language.”4
2. TYPE OF PRONOUNS IN ENGLISH AND ITALIAN
2.1 Pronouns categories
Pronouns are divided into categories distinguished by morphology and by their function and position in the sentence. For some groups the forms merely correspond to the adjective forms (2.1) that sometimes become a pronoun just for being used without name in the before it (2.2). (2.1) Those guys are rude. (2.2) I mean those, over there.
2.2 Personal pronouns
Personal pronouns substitute the names of people or things which participates in the discourse. Notice that they refer to full noun phrases when they do not refer to the addressee(s) or the addresser(s). They can be divided into:
Taken from the slides of the course of Análisis del Discurso (Español) (2011) held by Dr. Joan G. Burguera Serra of the University of Barcelona. 4 Denis, D. Zamparelli. R., Le trutturre logiche del significato, p. 127
2.2.1 Subject pronouns Subject pronouns are used when the person or thing is the subject of the clause. English example: I like the Beatles, but she does not. In Italian subject pronouns are almost always omitted, mainly because the ending of the verb that follows already give us information about person and number e.g. stasera (noi) andiamo a mangiare cinese. In fact, in Italian the subject pronoun sounds redundant if it is explicit. However, the connection between verbal morphology and pro-drop is statistically relevant, but not absolute and universal, because languages such as Chinese and Japanese are languages that admit pro-drop and they have no verbal morphology. In Italian the non-omitted pronoun is mostly used to emphasise, like in «Chi paga il conto?» «Lo pago io!». We will refer to languages such as Italian as “null subject pronoun languages”. On the contrary in English subject pronouns cannot be omitted because the following verb ending does not give enough information to understand the clause properly, but English syntax allows their absence, for example if they would be employed in subordinate clauses. We will refer to this linguistic phenomenon generally as pro-drop, and to the pronouns omitted as null subject pronoun (symbol Ø); on the contrary when the subject pronoun is explicit we will call it full or overt subject pronoun. Apparently, the imperative form in English, together with infinitive, are the only verb moods that grammatically accepts pronouns ellipsis. E.g. Eat your spinach and To be or not to be?. As shown in the example (2.3) “the imperative may consist of a bare-stem verb phrase alone. Such a structure is interpreted as having an understood subject you.”5 As expressed in the definition the imperative form accept just the bare-stem verb form, so sentences like (2.4) are unacceptable. (2.3) (2.4) Be patient *Are patient
English is not the only language with overt subject pronouns; French, too, has obligatory subject pronouns. But French, being a Romance language, has more morphology than English. However, although the written verb ending that follow the French subject pronoun already provides the person and number information, in many cases the ending of the verb is not pronounced, consequently, in French subject pronoun cannot be omitted. E.g. Je mange /ʒə mɑʒ/ and tu manges /ty mɑʒ/. It is as though French language decided to omit ̃ ̃ phonetically the verb ending and keep the pronoun, while Italian and Spanish kept the verb ending and omitted the pronouns; in both cases we witness the natural phenomenon of redundancy suppression.
Baker, English Syntax, p. 471
Formal and informal pronouns. Sometimes pronouns are distinguished only along a dimension of formality: for example, in the second person vous and tu in French, or lei and tu, and Egli and lui in Italian. There is no such a distinction in modern English even though Elizabethan English (1558–1603) marked the distinction with thou (singular informal) and you (plural or singular formal). Indeed, an Italian speaker that believes at the existence of formal third personal pronoun in English will cause annoying ambiguity if translates the lei form with she. Lei ha già effettuato il pagamento? Has she already made the payment? instead of Have you already made the payment? Nevertheless, in present-day English one can be used to substitute I and me in extremely formal contexts, e.g. Of course, one (= I) would be delighted to dine with the Queen. In Italian there is the so-called plurale maiestatis which finds correspondence in English where it is called royal we (for its origin see chapter 3.5). The second person plural, instead of the first person singular, is employed in formal speech and writing to denote oneself, e.g.: Noi Magnifico Rettore…
Inclusive “we” pronoun, used in Italian and English by a speaker or a writer to include the audience. At any rate, in Italian the pronouns is always omitted. E.g. (Noi) Proseguiamo con il prossimo argomento che tratta la cultura popolare britannica. Translated in English as Let us move to the next argument concerning the British popular culture. There are also languages such as Boumaa Fijian (an Austronesian language) that have pronouns used to not included the audience, for example in Boumaa Fijian the first person subject pronoun yau, which if it is omitted (Ø) automatically become inclusive.6
Dummy pronouns are used when the lack of pro-drop forces the presence of a pronoun, which is not semantically required. An English example is: It seems that she is a fan of George Harrison or It rains. In Italian, which is pro-drop, explicit pronouns are not optional, but impossible, e.g.: *Esso piove.
Subject pronouns English
personal Second formal
in pronouns in Italian
informal pronouns Io Tu Lui in Italian (Noi royal we) Lei Egli (usually
1^ person singular 2^ person singular 3^ person singular
I (one formal) You He
Büring D. Binding Theory. p. 189
She It we you they
Lei Esso Noi Voi Loro
written) Ella written)
1^ person plural 2^ person plural 3^ person plural
2.2.2 Object pronouns Object pronouns are used if the person or thing involved is the object of the verb. English example: I will follow him. Another pronominal division is made in Italian: o o tonic form, which it is stressed atone form, which it is not stressed and it is linked with the verb before or after, it is called:
proclitic if is before the verb, e.g.: mi chiama, se ne dimenticarono. enclitic if it is after the verb: dimmi, guardalo, andarsene.7
Direct and indirect object pronouns. English uses the same forms for both; for example: Mary loves him (direct object); Mary sent him a letter (indirect object). However, in Italian the third-person clitic pronoun forms change. If they are direct object they are lo, la, if they are indirect object, gli, le, which semantically correspond to a lui, a lei. Furthermore, when the form is atone enclitic like in the example Devo dirglielo assolutamente the gli/le distinction falls, indeed Devo *dirlelo assolutamente is incorrect. In other words if the syntax is verb + indirect object + direct object the indirect object pronoun loses gender and number reference (masculine or feminine/ singular or plural). But on the other hand, if the syntax is only verb + indirect object as in: Sara si è comportata male. Dille che non si faccia più vedere, we must respect the person and number concordance. Presumably, it is for these ambiguous cases that a large number of Italian mother tongues make the famous le/gli mistake. *Ieri ho incontrato Maria e gli ho detto di venire. The Italian atone proclitic or enclitic pronoun ne In addition to all Italian clitics, there is the pronoun ne, which is broadly used:
Fogliato, S. Testa M. C. Strumenti per italiano. Riflessione sulla lingua, p. 55
o to refer to noun (not a noun phrase) of person or things previously
mentioned functioning as prepositional phrase formed by the preposition di + NP e.g. ne divenne amico, divenne amico di + the proper noun or any subject pronoun except esso (lui, lei, loro, etc.). Or with a noun of thing: ha appena ricevuto il libro e ne ha già lette molte pagine = ha appena ricevuto il libro e ha già lette molte pagine del libro.
o to refer to a noun in structures like: io ho tre cani, tu ne hai due = io ho tre
cani, tu hai due cani. Notice that here interpreting ne as a PP does not work *tu hai due di cani.
o as neutral to refer to a full sentence and it corresponds to “a/di ciò”: è una
persona maleducata, è impossibile non tenerne conto;
o equally to “da ciò” to refer to a full sentence: si avvicinò all’albero e ne
strappo una mela. According to the first feature ne does not really differ from suo, but in most cases there is a substantial dissimilarity: ne seems to refer to just a part of the noun phrase (NP), the noun. E.g.: di queste paste1 ne1 voglio due, here ne is employed to refer to a part of NP: paste. This mechanism works just with nouns that have a plural, indeed does not work with proper nouns because we can take a part of a proper noun, e.g *Di Marco1 ne1 ricordo, but notice the correctness of the sentence: Di Marco ne1 ricordo bene la faccia1. However, curiously, ne does work with mass noun, which are noun that exists both in English and Italian and are not allowed to have neither plural nor an indefinite article, e.g. Per la spedizione subacquea di ossigeno1 ne1 servirà molto. Finally, we may also say that ne behaviour reflect the etymology definition of the word pronoun, because it really substitute only the noun, it cannot substitute a full noun phrases as other pronouns do. Another case is when the pronoun ne functions as a complement of specification e.g. Io ho vent’anni e tu ne hai diciotto. Here ne can refer only to the noun anni not to the full noun phrase vent’anni. In the example the noun anni of the NP vent’anni become the noun of the prepositional phrase (PP) of the complement of specification di anni. Sometimes in English ne it is translated depending on its function in: of, about him, her, them (referring to person) in sentences like Dei tuoi amici/del tuo amico non ne ho più sentito parlare; of, about it, this, that (referring to thing), his, her, its, their (if possessive). Furthermore in other cases the pronoun one is the best translation for ne. However, unlikely to ne, one cannot replace mass nouns,
moreover it can translate ne only when the structure is the following: Io ho una scatola1 rossa e tu ne1 hai due blu = I have got a red box1 and you have got two blue ones1. From this example we learn also something else: the indefinite ones (see chapter 2.8) in the case of a adjective numeral do not agree in number with its corresponding noun, but with the determiner An important issue concerns the position of pronouns with the locative particle (in, back, right, out, off, on, etc.) For second language learners it is difficult to understand when a particle-swift is accepted when the pronoun is combined with a particle. Let us observe the following example: We have to put off the match, we can’t play with such a rain, but with a pronoun If you know you cannot deal with an upsetting confrontation, try to put it off for a short while until you feel calmer. The syntax *put off it is incorrect. We are going to answer the question: why this particular behaviour of pronouns with particles? The tree diagrams given by Baker show the contrast between the normal order and shifted order. Normal order VP V NP LocP Particle V Shifted order VP LocP Particle NP
The shifted order cannot always be used, but it is possible only when the locative phrase consists solely of a particle. The particle can be put next to the verb only when the object is not an object pronoun. The following sentences (2.5) show the contrast between full noun phrases and pronouns as direct objects shifted particles: (2.5) a. b. c. d. Joe brought Marsha in. Joe brought in Marsha. Joe brought her in. *Joe brought in her.
Some prepositional verbs can be used with two object pronouns a direct one and an indirect one: could you bring it to me? Moreover, the pronoun position is not fixed, for example only unstressed pronouns prevent the shift of the particle. (2.6) a. b. Janice called HIM up. Janice called up HIM.
A particle cannot come between a verb and a pronoun object. Thus, whenever the sequence in + pronoun appears and the sentence is acceptable, we know that the sequence
can only be a prepositional phrase. To see whether BRING and SIT occur in the prepositional structure shown in (2.7b), we can simply replace the noun phrase in each original example with a pronoun. (2.7) a. b. *Nina brought in it. (transitive) Nina sat in it. (intransitive)
From these results we can conclude that given that SIT is an intransitive verb permits the shifted order with particle, whereas BRING does not because it is a transitive verb.8
2.3 Absolute pronouns
Absolute pronouns are used in isolation or in certain other special grammatical contexts. No distinct forms exist in English, which are the object form; for example: Me playing “Yellow submarine”?, this usage derive from pure pragmatic and is not registered in grammar books but it is in the BYU-BNC: British National Corpus. In Italian there is no reason to use the object pronoun there; the translation is Io suonare/suonando/mentre suono… Other special usages are Who does this album belong to? Me. and Did you know this all time, why? Because it was me (=sono stato io). Last, there is a pronoun usage that concerns more style than grammar. For example employing he/she and other inflected forms (his/hers, him/her) for usages that involve undetermined gender and number in order to not sound chauvinist. For instance If a scholar had claimed such an assertion, none could have argued for his/her thesis. However, for the reason that the form with a slash has been considered stylistically marked it is preferable to substitute it with the pronoun they or inflected forms. Therefore, they is used as singular in meaning but syntactically and morphologically it behaves like a plural, for example taking the inflected plural verb. Here below there are two examples that correspond to the two different usages: (2.8) (2.9) If a lawyer had gone around naked, someone would have noticed them. Anyone should go to the doctor when they felt sick. (number) [It could be one (gender) [Because the word lawyer can be male or female.] or more to go to the doctor.] In Italian the non-sexist use of pronoun is not employed, actually for nouns that have both gender such as architetto, avvocato, etc. the male gender is used if not specified before in the sentence.
Baker English Syntax, p. 195
2.4 Reflexive pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are generally used when a person or thing acts on itself, and they refer to noun phrases. More specifically “if the object of a transitive verb refers to the same person or thing as the subject, then that object must be a reflexive pronoun.” 9 E.g. The first two verses of Let it be are: “When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me” or He walked around the golf course to familiarise himself with it. With some verbs we may also leave out a reflexive with little difference in meaning: We are confident that fans will behave (themselves) at the concert. Reflexive pronouns are used very differently in English and Italian, for example in Italian there are reflexive verbs that imply that we employ almost only reflexive pronouns, for examples sedersi and arrampicarsi, are rare sentences like Matteo siede Giovanni, moreover in a sentence like mi siedo the interpretation cannot be that “I take myself with my hands and put myself on the chair”, because I do not really “siedo me stesso” or “arrampico me stesso”. Reflexive verbs like the ones just mentioned are stronger than others that can be both reflexive or not such as specchiarsi, pettinarsi, lavarsi, however reflexive verbs do not always find this correspondence in English, the last examples are translated respectively: to look at oneself in the mirror, to comb her/his hair, to wash oneself. Consequently, the following common phrases are translate as below: si specchia he looks at himself in the mirror; si pettina he combs his hair; deve lavarsi he has to wash himself. Notice that in this case the non-reflexive structure is not awkward, e.g.: devo lavare il cane. Clearly, as can be seen the reflexive form is not always maintained and the sentence structure changes, as a result mistakes can be made by learners. It is important to highlight that usage of reflexive verbs are conventional among languages, for example the Italian ridere is a reflexive verb in Spanish, reírse. This conventional feature linked with reflexive has been described as control verb. For example consider (2.10). (2.10) a. b. John tried to educate himself/*him. Ana was told to educate her/*herself.
“Once we recognize that try is a subject-control verb (the understood subject of the embedded verb is in the matrix subject), whereas tell is an object-control verb (the understood subject of the embedded verb is the matrix object).”10 Allegedly, reflexives in English are used when the subject and object (after a preposition) refer to the same person or thing. E.g. He was pleased with himself - in Italian translate as Era compiaciuto di sé stesso. Contrarily, if the verb has a direct object we use a
Hewings M. Advanced Grammar in Use, p. 120 Büring D. Binding Theory. p. 48
personal pronoun. E.g. I remember closing the door behind me. However, if the clause has a direct object and we need to make it clear that the subject and prepositional phrase refer to the same person or thing: She bought the bracelet for herself (…for her suggests it was brought for someone else). Finally, there is an interesting reflexive use in English that does not find correspondence in Italian: when we employ reflexive pronouns where self acts like a noun and thus can be modified by an adjective.. E.g. The image that people have of famous rock stars may not coincide with their real selves or Colin was very cheerful this morning. He didn’t seemed at all like his miserable self or Your usual self. To conclude in the table below are reported the direct object pronouns, the indirect object pronouns and the reflexives comparing the English and Italian forms.
object Reflexive pronouns English Italian
pronouns English Italian clitic mi ti lo
pronouns English Italian clitic
1^ singular 2^ singular 3^ singlular
person me person you person him
me you him
mi ti gli
myself yourself himself (oneself)
mi (me stesso) ti (te stesso) si (sé stesso)
her it 1^ person plural 2^ person plural 3^ person plural us you them
la lo ci vi loro
her it us you them
le (gli) gli ci vi gli
[neutral] herself itself ourselves yourselves
si stesa) ci
stessi) vi (voi
stessi) each other si (loro (theirselves) stessi)
2.5 Reciprocal pronouns
Reciprocal pronouns refer to a reciprocal relationship. They refer to coordinate noun phrases. English example: To learn to care for each other. To trust in one another right from the start. These examples has to be translated in Italian with a reflexive verb and an adverb like reciprocamente or a vicenda: Imparare a prendersi cura a vicenda. Fidarsi l’uno dell’altro. However, the reciprocal pronouns each other are also both represented by si with third person subject, e.g. si parlano= they are speaking each other. Moreover, the reciprocal pronoun each other can occur as either an accusative or a genitive, its use is illustrated in (2.10): (2.11) a. b. Fred and Martha sent messages to each other. (acc.) Fred and Martha sent messages to each other’s lawyer. (gen.)
Reciprocal pronouns do not exist in every language, for example in Oceanic and Austronesian languages they are replaced by verb affixes with reciprocal function.11 Overall, reciprocal pronouns sometimes may be semantically ambiguous. Let us consider the following example (2.12) given by Büring: (2.12) Gilles, Malu, Otto and Jaqueline are touching each other.
Ibidem, p. 217
Suppose that the participants are forming a circle by holding hands, consequently every participants is touching only two of the other not everyone else. Nevertheless, the sentence is true in this scenario, this interpretation is called weak reciprocity and is different from the strong reciprocity, in which everyone is touching everyone else. What is the correct interpretation of the sentence above (2.12)? Dalrymple (1998)’s conjecture is that a reciprocal will be strong or weak according to the context and lexical properties. His idea is: if what we know about the world allows us the strong interpretation, we will opt for it, but if this interpretation is not possible we will choose the weak one. For example, since everyone knows that no more than two people can sit alongside each other, we accept as true the following sentence: Five Boston pitchers sat alongside each other, interpreting the reciprocal as weak.12
2.6 Possessive pronouns
Possessive pronouns are used to indicate ownership and act syntactically as nouns. English example: These discs are mine. This is a case of English possessive pronoun. In Italian we can distinguish between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives because possessive adjectives syntactically behave like adjectives, for example we can say la mia casa è quella and la brutta casa è quella. Nevertheless, in English, forms like my, your, etc. (translated in Italian as il mio, il tuo) do not behave syntactically as adjectives, because adjectives cannot be employed like possessives in sentences like: my house is there, actually, we cannot say red house is there. Hence, we will state that possessives act as determiners in English and call them “possessive determiners”. These do not substitute a noun phrase and cannot stay alone, e.g.: These are my discs. However, in Italian we cannot talk about possessive determiners because the corresponding forms seem to be more possessive adjectives because they already have an obligatory determiner, e.g: la mia macchina ( except than in interesting cases like mio fratello, mia mamma, mio parde, etc). Generally grammar books refer to possessive adjective and pronouns in Italian. In English the majority of scholars refer to possessive pronouns as weak possessive pronouns (e.g.: mine) and to possessive determiners as strong possessive pronouns (e.g.: my), especially when the focus is the binding theory, because both are the genitive form of the personal pronouns, consequently we are doing the same in this thesis.
Ibidem, p. 213, 219, 220
Possessive determiners English pronouns) my your his her its our your their possessives
Possessive in adjectives in (or strong Italian
possessive pronouns or weak possessive pronouns English Italian
1^ person singular 2^ person singular 3^ person singular
il mio il tuo il suo
mine yours his hers its ours yours theirs
mio tuo il suo
1^ person plural 2^ person plural 3^ person plural •
il nostro il vostro il loro
nostro vostro loro
Strong and weak genitive Within the English Syntax let us refer to two forms of genitives based on pronouns:
weak genitives (left column) that are adjective with pre-nominal position, and strong genitives (right column) that are pronouns and have a post-nominal position; this distinction do not exist in Italian: Strong genitives a. b c. d. e. f. my friend our friend your friend his friend her friend their friend Weak genitives a friend of mine a friend of ours a friend of yours a friend of his a friend of hers a friend of theirs
The rule that we must respect is: “a post nominal genitive can be formed by combining the preposition of with a following genitive. If the genitive is based on a pronoun, the strong form of the genitive must be used”13.
2.7 Demonstrative pronouns
Demonstrative pronouns distinguish the particular objects or people that are referred to from other possible candidates, notice that they do not refer to noun phrases but only to a part of a NP. Actually, consider this example where a subject pronoun is not correct but has to be replaced by a demonstrative: *L’amico del cugino è arrivato, lui del fratello è partito. The subject pronoun does not work here because refers only to the full NP L’amico del cugino, not to the part of this NP formed by l’amico. The correct sentence is L’amico del
Baker, English Syntax, p.324
cugino è arrivato, quello del fratello è partito. If we translate the sentence in English we will employ one or the one, e.g: The cousin’s friend has come, the brother’s one has left. However, it is also true that a demonstrative can also substitute a full NPs like in: Marco ha chiamato [l’amico di Maria]1, ma quello1 non lo ha mai richiamato. Indeed, demonstrative pronouns are subcategories of determiners, as a result they do not work very differently from the determinative article (e.g the) that designates a particular referent among others. This lead some scholar to claim that the crucial difference between a pronoun and a determinative article is very similar to the distinction between intransitive and transitive verbs. Just like transitive verbs must be followed by an object, so definite article must be followed by a noun. An English example about a demonstrative: I'll take these. Italian language has a further demonstrative: ciò. Ciò is an invariable demonstrative that means “that fact”, “this fact” and it is translated with “this” “that”. E.g.: Nonostante ciò, siamo rimasti amici. It can be used as subject or as complement, e.g.: di ciò nessuno ne dubita. Anyway ciò is often substituted by questo, quello when it is subject, and by the pronouns lo, ci, ne when it is complement. E.g.; Pensa a ciò (=pensaci).14 Person Italian English Italian English 1° degree 1° degree 2° degree 2° of distance (near) questo questa questi queste (over) here of distance of distance (Far) quello quella quelli quelle (over) there degree of distance singular masculine feminine plural masculine feminine corresponding adverbs this this these these qui/qua that that those those lì/là
For demonstratives the degrees of distance depend on the position of speaker and listener respect to the object that is referred to. The first degree of distance is cognitively respected in English and Italian, however for the second degree of distance is not. Actually, the second degree of distance is used in Italian when the object involved in the discourse is far from both the speaker and the listener, on the other hand in English the second degree of distance is conceived as referring to an object far from the speaker but near to the listener.
Fogliato, S. Testa M. C. Strumenti per italiano. Riflessione sulla lingua, p. 53
As far as demonstrative pronouns are concerned, a special attention has to be paid to the pronoun One, even if it does convey no distance degree. One is used instead of repeating a singular noun (not a NP) and ones instead of repeating a plural noun when it is clear from the context what we are talking about. He wants the red bad, I want the black ones. Here ones substitutes the plural bags. Notice that the presence of an adverb or an adjective (generally a modifier or and adjuncts, see chapter 4.2) is obligatory, e.g. “Can I get you a drink?” “It’s okay, I’ve already got one” (= a drink) and I think his best poems are his early ones” (=poems). However, ones/one cannot be used instead of an uncountable noun. E.g. If you need any more paper, I’ll bring you some. (…I’ll bring you ones/one*). Moreover, we cannot use ones without defining precisely which group of things we are talking about. Instead we must use some: “We need new curtains”. “Okay, let’s buy some”(*Okay, let’s buy ones) Differently form one, some do not need an adjective or a modifier. Demonstrative pronouns are included in the larger class of determiner (which comprises words such as the, an , a). However, a final group of words included in the class of determiners is a surprising one: it consists of the plural forms we, us and you. (2.13) we leaders of the senate us students of chemistry you children Notice that the construction they children is incorrect. However it seems that considering pronoun as determiner it is not always true, let us consider the sentence: we with glasses or in Italian noi con gli occhiali, here the pronoun cannot function as a determiner given that is not followed by a name.
2.8 Indefinite pronouns
Indefinite pronouns refer to general categories of people or things. They are quantitative noun phrases (QNP) and as we will see they do not substitute a NP. English example: Anyone could afford that. Indefinite pronouns paradigm It is important to underline that further in this dissertation we will refer to an indefinite pronoun joined with a noun or as it own as a quantifier, e.g.: No girl, everybody. We will mainly focus on elements that can appear without noun or ne in Italian.
Italian singular masculine
English singular/ plural neutral
un, uno Nessuno
pronoun) uno nessuno niente qualcuno qualcosa
one/ ones No/none/nothing nobody someone something some a few/ a little poor a lot All everybody each
poco scarso molto tutto
poca scarsa molta tutta
un po’ scarso molto tutto
pochi scarsi molti tutti
poche scarse molte tutte
Ognuno Ogni ciascuno
About the pronoun a lot can be said that is quite informal, if we want to speak or write formally we should substitute it by a large number whether it substitutes a countable noun and with a great deal if it substitutes a mass noun. Distributive pronouns are used to refer to members of a group separately rather than collectively. English example: To each his own. Negative pronouns indicate the non-existence of people or things. English example: Nobody believes me.
2.9 Relative pronouns
Relative pronouns refer back to people or places or thing previously mentioned. English example: People who smoke should give up now. To refer back to people we use who, to place where, to time when, to things which.
Indefinite and definite relative pronouns are used for restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses and can be omitted in restrictive cases. E.g We listened the song (that/which) Jane recommended to us. Here the pronouns refer back to song and the subject of the relative phrase is Jane, moreover the pronoun omission makes the sentence sound informal. To look at different uses, if relatives let us compare with the following example I know a man who/that ran in the New York Marathon last year, where the relative pronoun refers to “a man”, and the subject of the relative clause is also “a man”. In this case the relative pronoun cannot be omitted. Relative pronouns clause can be classified as:
restrictive relative clause: the relative pronoun can be either the subject or the object of the relative clause.
Whom is very formal and rarely used in spoken English: The boy whom Elena had shouted at smiled. (less formal that, no relative p., or who). In Italian whom is translated with “cui”. In formal writing it is used as the relative that stays with preposition (by whom, to whom).
non-restrective relative clause: are used to add information about things and people in non-defining relative clauses as follows:
Notice that we must include a relative pronoun in a non-defining relative clause. In addition, after a comma is advisable to use which instead of that.
Interrogative pronouns ask which person or thing is meant. English example: Who did that? In Spanish, English and Italian the group of relative and interrogative pronouns are nearly identical. Compare English: Who is that? (interrogative) to I know who that is. (relative).
Above we have mentioned the formality feature of relative pronouns. A psycholinguistics study demonstrated that non-native English users overuse relative pronouns compared to native English speaker. Indeed, they are employed in formal written text, but in casual conversation are omitted by native speaker. Overt relative pronouns in places where they can be omitted convey an idea of formality and are the confirmation that stylistic variation uses syntactic not only lexical variation. Nevertheless, for a non-native speaker the relative pronoun is an useful tool to construct easily logic.15
Yorozo, M. A (1995) Psycholinguistics Study of Relative Pronoun Use by Native Speakers and NonNative Speakers of English. p. 7
2.10 On which pronoun types will be the focus?
As we have seen there are a large number of pronouns with different grammatical functions. In this thesis we will focus mainly on personal pronouns; subject and object. We will give the reader additional information about binding theory, the history and etymology of subject pronouns and the findings of some psycholinguistics studies. Furthermore special attention will be paid to reflexive pronouns and indefinite quantifiers, particularly in the chapter 4.
3. HISTORY OF ENGLISH PERSONAL PRONOUNS
3.1 Why taking into account the history of personal pronouns?
Let us follow-up in this dissertation with an overview about the history of English pronouns. There are a few reasons why we are doing this. Firstly, because it is a fascinating perspective that supports us in the linguistic research to explain grammatical anomalies among languages of the same family, discover the original meanings of content words, and the derivation of phraseologisms. Secondly, every linguistic analysis that aims to speak completely about a language phenomenon or a grammatical category should start by looking at it in the past. The English language, like every language has evolved progressively through history. This way to look at the language is called diachronic. On the other hand the synchronic view is the one adopted by a dictionary that actually it is only a snapshot of the language in a defined period. During VIII century in Britain, a Germanic population, the Anglo-Saxons, bought their language with them as immigrants and the Celtic language began progressively to disappear. In linguistic terms we would say that the Celtic is the substratum and the AngloSaxon the superstratus. Another important breakthrough for the English Language History was the IX century war with Scandinavians, which was won by the English Kingdom of Wessex; and the Norman Conquest, which has been responsible for a significant number of French borrowing. Undoubtedly, the evolution from a primordial state of English language to the English we are used to speaking nowadays has been gradual. Thus, we distinguish in: • Old English to refer to English from the introduction on the island of Britain to the end of the XI century;
Middle English period, from 1100 to about the end of XV century; Modern English, from 1500 to present day. Modern English comprises Present Day English, which considers the children who are now living, or on a larger extent from the XX to nowadays.
3.2 The modern personal pronouns’ ancestors: Old English pronouns
Almost all Modern English personal pronouns derive from Old English and they are the only grammatical category that have preserved some of the cases of Old English until nowadays. This differs from Modern German where cases remain until now, moreover this is surprising since even Old English, like High German, derives from Proto-Germanic. Anyway, Old English maintained only five cases (nominative, genitive, accusative, dative and instrumental) of his ancestor, the Proto-Indo-European that had eight noun cases (nominative, genitive, accusative, dative, ablative, locative, instrumental and vocative). Old English also kept the original grammatical genders (masculine vs feminine vs neutral), but with some irregularities. Roger Lass points out that “gender is not the “sex” of the word: it is simply a necessary classification, in which each noun has to belong to some category which predicts its agreement behaviour (forms of pronouns and adjectives)” 16. The scholar shows in the following examples that stān “stone” is masculine and wants hē as its pronouns; cild “child” is neutral and takes hit, which later will change in it; lufu “love” is feminine and takes hēo. But this is purely conventional and totally unpredictable because, for instance, in Modern Italian the word for stone “pietra” is feminine and the one for love “amore” is masculine. In addition, Proto-Indo-European had three numbers like Ancient Greek: singular, dual (two and two only) and plural. The dual remains only in the first and second Old English personal pronouns. At any rate, Modern English has not neither gender nor dual. The personal pronouns are given in the table below. However, Old English variations occurred. Also the modern outcomes are given where they have survived.
nom. (subj.) gen. (pos.) dat. (obj.) Acc. (prep. obj.)
1^ person singular ic [I]
plural wē [we] ūre [our] ūs [us] ūs
2^ person singular þū [thou] þīn [thy/thine] þē [thee] þē
dual git incer inc inc
plural gē [ye] ēower [your] ēow [you] ēow
mīn [my/ uncer mine] mē [me] mē unc unc
Hogg R., Denison D. A History of the English Language, p. 55
3^ person masculine nom. gen. dat. acc. singular hē [he] hi-s [his] hi-m [him] hi-ne
neutral singular hi-t [it] hi-s hi-m hi-y
feminine singular hēo [?she] hire/heora [her] hire/heora hī(e)
plural all genders hī(e)/ hēo hire/heora him/heom hī(e)/hēo
As you can see in Old English the genitive for it is the same as for he, later we will see that its is a later development. Moreover, there is no third-person plural th- forms ancestor of they, their. These, together with she, will make their appearance later in the language and will be discussed in section 3.3. As far as she is concerned, up to now let’s just point out that there is ambiguity because the feminine singular and all plurals overlap.
3.3 Changes that affect pronouns which move away from Old English pronoun paradigm
3.3.1 Scandinavian borrowings in the third-person plural pronoun As mentioned above we do not find the ancestor of they in Old English, instead we have hī(e)/ hēo, forms that show overlap and ambiguity with masculine singular, but mostly with feminine singular at all cases. Given this ambiguity, it seems that we are in a situation in which one of the two forms has to fall or to be replaced by another one. The reason for this replacement is called homonymic collision: when a word is equal to another or is being evolving phonetically to become equal to another which has another meaning, one of the two words is likely to fall and be replaced by another form, such as the one of another language (L2) in contact with the L1. A clear example comes from the Spanish. The Spanish language took as the word for oil not a word deriving from the Latin oleum, because the word oleum entering the Spanish language would have evolved in /óžo/ according to the phonetic laws. But the world that evolved for oculum converged in the same pronunciation and, given this, the two words would have been homonymic. Consequently, the word for oleoum was substituted with the Arab-rooted word aceite. A similar change happened also in English: a new pronoun substituted an old one which had equal forms in the same paradigm. This occurred exactly during the war between the kingdom of Wessex and the Danes, which as been won by the leader of Wessex, Alfred (871); the Danish culture left a linguistic substratum in Britain with the assimilation of some Viking words (on the other
hand, if the Danes had won the war; Modern English would have been much more similar to Danish). Therefore, the war put in touch English and Danish culture and over time, the Viking invaders, who spoke Old Norse, were assimilated into the native population and Scandinavian linguistic features entered English language. In this occasion the Old Norse third-person pronouns þeir (later they) replaced the Old English form hī(e)/ hēo. Of course the complete assimilation lasted a long time: the phenomenon covered all the XII century. 3.3.2 The appearance of its and you in Middle English In this section we will be supported by the research carried out by the scholar Roger Lass to explain two changes that affected the old English pronoun during the Middle English. The first is easy to understand: the nominative it developed a new genitive its; the second is difficult and not so clear at present: the singular thou/thy/thee were replaced only by you which took on dative plus accusative, and the old genitive plural your began to be employed for both singular and plural. The Old English genitive of hit “it”, like that of hē, was his. The new its seems to be based on a grammatical similarity: its= it + (genitive) -s. If -s is simply the non-feminine genitive ending, this is a natural interpretation. The transformation was based on old materials. 17 Let us turn to the appearance of you. What we can primarily say is that IndoEuropean languages typically do not have the same pronoun for singular and plural (see the last section of the chapter about pronoun etymology for comparisons among languages). If English had developed as expected, it should have a second-person singular paradigm *thou/thine/thee and a second-person plural paradigm. But Modern English is asymmetrical. It is strange that the lack of number affected only one person, and that the form which has survived substituted both Old English dative and accusative (oblique) plural ēow, which is so different from the singular. The main reason is sociolinguistic: during Middle English you began to generalise as the pronoun for both second person numbers in upper-class conversations. At the same time thou, which is apparently of normal lower-class usage, begins to be connoted with intimacy, if used by both interlocutors; or dislike, if used non-reciprocally. You was on the way to becoming neutral, and thou marked within the society. By the middle of the XV century there was a clear association of thou with intimacy and “equality”. 18 It seems that English would have had a pronoun marked with politeness like in German or French or Italian (du/Sie, tu/vous tu/lei). But what actually evolved was different and in continuous change. “The originally upper-class reciprocal you became the universal default, and thou was reserved for two special functions: marking (permanent or
Ibidem, p. 96 Ibidem, p. 96
temporary) asymmetrical relationships, and as a general indicator of emotional tone (positive or negative), intimacy, etc. But its use was also variably influenced by relationship, topic and other factors unconnected with status or power.”19 Roger Lass explain us that this variability can be see in most pre-seventeenthcentury formal letters. In the 1620s there is an increase numbers of intimate and personal letters preserved which shows how complex the second-person pronoun system becomes in its last stages. At first the usage may appear paradoxical: consider for instance this letter from Thomas Knyvett to his wife in 1620:
Sweet Harte I have sent by this bearer fourteen woodcockes and a brace of feasants…If you will, you may send them to my Lord Knyvett [his mother]…I came home on Friday night betimes sumwhat wery, but am very wel and doe hope to se the this weeke…so my deerest affection to thyselfe; I…rest, Thy deerest Loving Husband Thomas Knyvett
While thou is the normal pronoun, there is a shift to you in the sentence when mother-in-law is mentioned. This might look like a joke, but there is a point involved. At this stage the thou/thy vs you contrast has became for many speakers a social contextual one: you is distal (distant from the speaker), thou/thy proximal (speaker-oriented). Thou is used when the topic is within the good and close relationship, and restricted to an immediate, realistic present. You is employed (for regular thou users) to mention the other things, for example the mothers-in-law (typical “outsiders”), strangers, business matters, social superiors, and unreal conditions (verbs of guessing, imagining).20 But by the XVIII thou remains in special registers like poetry and prayer, and this bring us to the next stage of thou usage, which will be explained in the next section. 3.3.3 The translations of the Bible during the Renaissance and the change from thou to you The two scholars David Daninson and Richard Hogg in their introduction to the book A history of the English Language point out the last change that affect the pronouns thou/thee/thy/thine: their final change. During the Renaissance the study of classic languages, such as Greek and Hebrew, of the Bible was reviewed. The Bible was generally kept in the Latin of the Vulgate translation. There were partial Old English translations from both Old and New Testaments. In the late XIV century, a dissident translator named Tyndale in the early XVI century translated English Bible, but this was considered subversive because in that times the Catholic Church did not let that the Bible was translated by a man who was not a priest.
Ibidem, p. 97 Ibidem, p.97
However, around this time the Church of England was made legally independent of Rome as a result of Henry VIII’s dynastic needs. Pronoun thou thee thy thine ye ModE Translation you you your your your Usage subject object possessive possessive used before a vowel sound instead of thy plural
For Tyndale, thou has been the normal pronoun to use to refer to God, as it was the second person singular. By the 17th century, thou had in most situations been substituted by the usual pronoun you which was originally plural, later also polite and later neutral; but the committee which produced the Authorised Version of the Bible adopted Tyndale’s choice of pronoun, thus deciding to use thou for later generation with an air of archaism and formality rather than intimacy.
3.4 When the phenomena of null dummy subject and pro-drop began to appear
Now that we are familiar with Old English pronouns let us see when and how pronoun omission made its first appearance. In this section we will take advantage of the research and the examples illustrated by Olga Fisher with Wim van der Wurff in 2006. Both scholars have deeply studied the history of English syntax and noticed that “English had a stable system of grammatical functions in active clauses that contain an agent expression: the agent of the clause functions as the subject, the theme or affected entirely functions as the direct object, and the experience as the indirect object, while others roles, such as instrument or source have adjunct status.”21 Sentences like the following type have existed since Old English, although there have of course been changes in case making and word order. (3.1) They AGENT He AGENT had promised VERB had borrowed VERB him RECIPIENT some books THEME a large sum of money. THEME from library SOURCE the with his friend’s library card INSTRUMENT
However the function structure is not rigid: even certain variations are possible both in Old English and in present day-English. Regarding the subjects the principal changes have to do with empty subjects and dummy subjects. A common example to explain the latter
Ibidem, p. 160
concept is It rains (at any rate, for further information about dummy subject see chapter 2.2.1). Both phenomena already existed in Old English. Below there are two examples of empty subject (symbol Ø) in Present Day English. (3.2) Ø seems he is not coming back. (3.3) Coming up tomorrow for real. Ø Will arrive at around 4 and Ø will be around all Thursday. [taken from an English person’s Facebook page]
The sentence in (3.2) shows omission of an it that works as expletive, that’s to say a pronoun it than would be employed for syntactic reasons only, not semantic ones; but it is omitted because the verb seem do not give meaning to its subject. In other words the omitted it has not referential meaning but we use it just to fill the subject space; we will use the name “null dummy subject” for this phenomenon. In (3.3) we see the lack of a subject pronoun (for which the term pro-drop is also used), namely I-omission. Null dummy subjects existed in Old English texts; an example is (3.4). And the example in (3.5) demonstrates that the use of an overt it/hit dummy subject was also possible. Both pronouns categories also coexisted. (3.4) nis me earfeðe to geþolianne þeodnes not-is me difficult to endure willan
“It’s not difficult for me to endure the Lord’s will.”
hit bið swiðe unieðe ægðer to donne it is very difficult either to do “It is very difficult to do either”. Nevertheless, after 1500 only it as dummy subject survives in the written texts and
therefore becomes more frequent. The increased strictness of subject-verb order implicated the ban for null dummy subjects, but given the existence of informal spoken examples like (3.2) in Present Day English we must be cautious to declare null dummy subjects dead by 1500. Rather, the development appears to have been from use of null dummies in Old English, to no use in Middle English, to limited use in Present Day English. The history of pro-drop in English, as in sentence (3.3), presents us with a somewhat similar picture. Pro-drop was possible but not very frequent in Old English, and disappeared before the present time. An Old English example of the phenomenon is given in (3.7):
(3.7) … Ø wolde on ðam westene wæstmes tilian … Ø wanted in the wasteland crop grow “…he wanted to grow a crop in the wasteland”. “In this case, the existence of Present Day English sentences like (3.3) forms evident counter evidence to the idea that this option was lost from the language. Again the development seems to have been from somewhat wider use in Old English to very restricted use in Present Day English. A factor that seems to have played a role in Old English is person features: first and second pronouns are omitted less often than third person ones; the example in (3.7) is typical in this respect.”22 Olga Fischer and Wim van der Wurff also discovered that there are cases in Old English where the empty subject is understood and refer back to a non-subject. In her example in (3.8) the empty he-subject refers back to dative him in the previous clause.
(3.8) ah hie a motan mid him1 gefeon, þær Ø1 leofað & rixað a buton ende but they ever may with him rejoice where Ø lives and rules ever without end “But they may rejoice with him forever, where he lives and rules for ever without end”. We find this type pronoun omission during Middle English and beyond, but than it vanishes from written text. According to Olga Fischer and Wim van der Wurff another situation in which we encounter pro-drop is in the case of lack of the subject pronoun thou. Even if pro-drop of second person pronoun was rare in Old English, it became commoner in Middle English, especially with verb that has the distinctive ending -(s)st. And it goes on until Modern English as can be seen in the following Shakespearian example in (3.9):
(3.9) Hast thou neuer an eie in the Heade? Canst Ø not heare? (1 Henry IV II.i.26) Generally, then, pro-drop in the history of English has been progressively more infrequent. Moreover, “at each stage of the language it tends to occur only in a few specific contexts; some broad continuities and discontinuities in the types of contexts can be observed.”23
Ibidem, p. 162 Ibidem, p. 163
3.4 Summary and discussion about subject personal pronouns’ etymology
As we have seen in the previous section about history of language; from the diachronic perspective language is a process that continue to evolve in the time. To sum up here we give the pronouns’ etymology has been listed according the Online Etymology dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/ ). I < 12c. shortening of Old English ic, first person singular nominative pronoun < Proto-Germanic. *ekan (cf. Old Frisian ik, Old Norse ek, Norwegian eg, Danish jeg, Old High German ih, German ich, Gothic ik) < from Proto-Indo-European *eg-, nominative form of the first person singular pronoun (cf. Sanskrit aham, Hittites uk, Latin ego (source of French Je and Italian io), Greek ego, Russian ja, Lithuanian aš). Reduced to i by mid-12c. in northern England, it began to be capitalized mid-13c. to mark it as a distinct word and avoid misreading with the letter “m” “n” in handwritten manuscripts. “The reason for writing I is the orthographic habit in the middle ages of using a 'long i' (that is, j or I) whenever the letter was isolated or formed the last letter of a group; the numeral 'one' was written j or I (and three iij, etc.), just the same for the pronoun.”24 you < Old English eow, dative and accusative plural of þu (thou), objective case of ge, “ye” (ye), < West Germanic Language *iuwiz (cf. Old Norse yor, O.S. iu, Old Frisian. iuwe, M.Du., Dutch u, Old Higher Germanic. iu, iuwih, German euch), < Proto-IndoEuropean *ju. Pronunciation of you and the nom. form ye gradually merged from XIV century; the distinction between them passed out of general usage by 1600. Widespread use of French in England after 12c. gave English you the same association as French vous, and it began to drive out singular nominative thou, originally as a sign of respect (similar to the royal we) when addressing superiors, then equals and strangers, and ultimately (by 1575) becoming the general form of address. Through XIII century. English also retained a dual pronoun link “you two;/your two selves”. he < Old English he, from Proto Germanic. *hi- (cf. Old Saxon., Old Frisian, Middle Dutch he, hi, Dutch hy, Old Higher German he), < Proto-Indo-European *ki-, variant of *ko-, the “this, here” (as opposed to "that, there") root (cf. Hittite ki “this”, Greek ekeinos "that person," Old Church Slavonic. si, Lithuanian šis “this”), and thus the source of the third person pronouns in Old English. she < mid-12c., probably evolved from Old English seo, sio (accusative sie), feminine of demonstrative pronoun se “the”. The Old English word for “she” was heo, hio, however by XIII century the pronunciation of this had converged by phonetic evolution with he “he”, so the feminine demonstrative pronoun probably was used in its place (cf. similar
Otto Jespersen, Growth and Structure of the English Language, p.233
development in Dutch zij, German sie, Greek he, etc.). The original h- survives in her. A relic of the Old English pronoun is in Manchester-area dial. oo “she”. It < Old English hit, neuter nominative and accusative of third person singular pronoun < Proto-Germanic demonstrative base *khi- (cf. Old Frisian hit, Dutch het, Gothic hita “it”) < Proto-Indo-European *ko- “this”. Used in place of any neuter noun, hence, as gender faded in Middle English, it took on the meaning "thing or animal spoken about before." The h- was lost due to being in an unemphasized position, as in modern speech the h- in “give it to him,” “ask her,” “is only heard in the careful speech of the partially educated” [Weekley]. we < Old English we, < Proto-Germanic. *wiz (cf. Old Saxon wi, Old Norse ver, Danish vi, Old Frisian wi, Dutch wij, Old Higher German, Gererman wir, Goth. weis “we”) < Proto-Indo-European *wei- (cf. Sanskrit vayam, Old Persian vayam, Hittite wesh “we”, Old Church Slavonic ve “we two”, Lithuanian vedu “we two”). The “royal we” is at least as old as “Beowulf” (c.725); use by writers to establish an impersonal style is also from Old English; it was especially common in XIX century. they < c.1200, Old Norse þeir, originally masculine plural demonstrative pronoun < Proto-Germanic *thai, nom. pl. pronoun < Proto-Indo-European *to-. Gradually replaced Old English hi, hie, plurals of he, heo, hit by c.1400. Colloquial use for “anonymous people in authority” is attested from 1886. A first view we can seen as the majority of English pronouns come from Old English, which is rooted in Proto-Germanic and share common features with the Indo-European languages. Looking carefully we notice that the third person feminine (hēo) was experiencing homonymic collision (back to section 3.3.1 for the definition) with the third person plural (hī(e)/ hēo); indeed these two Old English pronouns are very similar and through phonetic evolution would have converged. Supposedly, the Old demonstrative pronoun became subject pronoun, changing its function. Moreover we see that the Old Norse replacement for the pronoun they (back to section 3.3.1 for an explanation) equally to the other pronouns has a Proto-Germanic root. To conclude, in this first chapter we have discovered fascinating aspects of English pronouns, for example that the pronoun you replaced the ancient form thou which was used firstly in situation of informality and intimacy, such as in order to address to the spouse, and in later to address to God, and therefore began to be conceived as extremely formal and archaic. All these nuances cannot emerge just looking at the etymology of the pronoun thou. Furthermore, observing to the pronoun paradigmatically, or in other words inside their paradigm of pronouns, we cannot understand nothing about the history of pro-drop and
(dummy) null subject, but we have to look at them within the constituent, that’s to say bearing in mind their syntactic role in the clause. About dummy null subject pronouns, surprisingly, we discover that they where considered anti-normative and disappeared in written rigorous text of XV century, but they are employed in Modern English informal speech. Consequently it seems that dummy null subject has reaffirmed itself once again or that has never disappeared from the oral discourses. Astonishingly even Shakespeare makes use of pro-drop.
4. SYNTAX OF PRONOUNS
4.1 Why focusing on how pronouns combine with other words
In the second chapter pronouns have been studied according to a paradigmatic point of view, but clearly for a grammatical category characterized by reference like pronouns it would be reductive not to deal with them syntagmatically: considering their combination with the other words of the sentence and their position within the sentence, or in other words study their syntax. It is clear that the English syntax in not universal and not used consciously, but an hypothesis about constituent modules called X-bar theory, up to now is the more universal. We will investigate the possible position for personal pronouns in the sentence. Moreover, we shall analyze the reference function of pronouns and their behaviour as bound variables. The main issue of this whole section is whether there is a language system hiding beneath our consciousness that account for the anaphora resolution.
4.2 An overview of X-bar theory
The syntactic theory we shall consider is the X-bar theory, this provides us with an excellent tool for modelling linguistic grammar, in addition it is universal, which means that it works with all languages. This model, like most of the syntactic theories, tags word classes, which are called also part of speech (nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, determiners, etc.); groups words into phrases based on head word classes and builds a single expanded tree for a sentence. Following the X-bar theory we build a phrase (P) (also called constituent) which, according to Lenarduzzi (1999), has been defined as “a combination of one or more linguistics elements that have the same logic function in the phrase”25, a phrase differs from a sentence (S) that is a complex linguistics unit formed by more phrases and express a compete assertion, or a question. A phrase is formed by a head which is the
Taken form the notes of the course Lingua Spagnola I (C) (2009) held by Dr. Fox Manuela with this book in bibliography: R. Lenerduzzi, "Interferencias en el aprendizaje del español en alumnos italófonos: el lexema verbal", in Aa.Vv., Lo spagnolo d'oggi: forme della comunicazione, Bulzoni, Roma, 1999, pp. 243-256.
keyword and by one or more dependents which modify the head, e.g. in the noun phrase (NP) a cat, the noun cat is the head of the phrase and the determiner a is the dependent. With keyword is meant the word that casts in the phrase projection, that’s to say the word that is semantically dominant. A phrase can be formed only by the head, for example let us consider the noun phrase formed by a proper noun like John. Within the X-bar theory all the phrases take form from X-phrases. The basic scheme of X-bar theory (4.2) in the syntactic tree of generative grammar in which a sentence is formed by more phrase; is a specifier, a head and a complement; in addition phrases can have adjunctions.26 (4.2)
XP=with this caption we mean to explain every kind of phrase X= the head is a variable that indicate one among the possible part of speech (N, Adv, A, etc.) that will give the name to the sentence XP, it is always a word (e.g. if the head is a noun the phrase will be a noun phrase NP) (the head is compulsory and only one per phrase) XI (in this thesis, usually it is X’)= another phrase at a barlevel projection (optional and more than one per phrase are possible). More XIs are necessary to build the relation of dominance among phrases. ZP=the specifier is a phrase, but as we will see can also be a word (optional and only one per sentence) WP=complement is a phrase that has to stay close to the head (optional and only one per sentence ) Notice that the tree that is ZPXWP is not universal, because for a SOV languages like Japanese it would be ZPWPX. If we imagine the syntactic tree as a family tree; the phrase that is the specifier is the daughter of XP and sister of XI; the phrase that is the complement is sister of the X (head); and the phrase sister of XI and daughter by a XI is an adjunction (YP), it differs from the complement because can be reordered in the sentence. Formally instead of using the sisterhood and daughterhood relations we will refer to c-command and domination, respectively. 27 To conclude, different phrases combine with each other to form a complex sentence. Let us now apply the model to real and basic sentences with and without an adjuncts.
Based on CAS LX 522 Syntax I lecture slides by Prof. Paul Hagstrom (Dept. of Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures) Boston University 27 Ibidem
Note that an equal, but less clear, representation of (4.4) can be also made through parenthesis that give priorities to the phrases. [S[ NP=Specifier[D the][N boy]][VP [VI[VI[V=Head ate][NP=Complement soup]] [PP [PI [P at] [NP home]]]]]] These in (4.3) and (4.4) are both verb phrase (VP) because the head is a verb (has and eat), the key element is the verb. Notably, the head in (4.3) is the auxiliary of the verb (has not begin), which defines the tense: the present perfect. What happens with inflected main verbs, like in (4.4)? We introduce a Tense Phrase (TP) which is an inflectional phrase, instead of the vague sentence symbol (S) in the tree in (4.4). Accordingly, the second sentence should not be called S, but with a T head (tense, in this case: simple past), and thus yield a TI.28 Consequently, the final syntactic tree would be the one below (4.5). (4.5)
More complex sentences can be made with the relation of subordination, putting a …that…, this is called COMPlementizer Phrase (CP or That-P).
4.3 Pronouns in the X-bar theory
Let us start introducing two rules: “a noun phrase can consist of a pronoun” and “a noun phrase can consist of a proper name” 29. The evidence is that pronouns are able to substitute entire NPs, for instance proper names. (4.7)
In the case depicted above in (4.7) the NP formed by the pronoun I is the specifier; the tense agreement T, in this case the simple present, is the head and the VP see you is the complement of TP. Therefore, we notice that pronouns can occupy the position of specifier and have the role of complements in a VP. If the pronoun in the specifier place is a weak or strong genitive we will insert a genitive marker DI that act like a determiner (see the section 2.6, where possessives are described as determiners), the same would be done if the genitive is expressed with the Saxon genitive ‘s. The complete structure builds has to be linked with the pronoun, where DI equals to the genitive marker. On the contrary, the branches of the DP would not converge whether a Saxon genitive was there, e.g.: John [NP] ‘s [D] as shown in (4.8a). (4.8) (4.9) (4.8a)
Baker, English Syntax, p.147, 149
Curiously, in the case above (4.8) the possessive pronouns your is both the specifier and the head of the determiner phrase (DP) and DP is the specifier of NP, this makes the pronoun your the specifier of NP (the whole sentence). Studying pronouns we see that the specifier role can be taken by just a word, differently from the imaginary in which the specifier has to be a phrase. Furthermore, looking at (4.9) can be seen that in the case of a weak possessive pronouns the DI (or genitive marker) role is taken by the preposition of and that the possessive pronouns can refer to the head of the NP. Apparently, the pronouns’ features of referring to a NP give them also the property to be indirectly a and another attached in a PP. head of a NP (hers=Luise=N=head of NP). Here below there is an example where there is a pronoun alone
We saw that pronouns can be governed by preposition as in (4.8) and (4.10) or directly by the verb as in (4.7) and (4.10). Moreover, pronouns can go with a coordinate structure (You and I) or with a modifier like even in even him, only him in English or solamante lui, proprio lui, ect. in Italian. Actually, the Adv only labels as a dependent of the specifier in (4.11), and in (4.12) only acts as a dependent of the complement of a VP. (4.11) (4.12)
section we have seen which can be the role of pronouns within the X-bar theory. They may be specifier of the TP, modifier in a NP and complement in a VP and PP. In order to draw up completely the behaviour of pronouns the X-bar-theory we have to analyze one case more, the one in within which
pronouns act as determiners (see chapter 2.7). Let us start pointing out that some scholars claimed that in a NP formed by the a determiner and a noun, actually, the noun is the complement of the determiner, which is the head, consequently the NP becomes a DP. Given this differentiation, “consider the following: (4.13) a) You politicians are all alike. b) We linguists need to stick together. c) The media always mocks us academics. These seem to have a pronoun followed by a noun inside the DP; we can make sense of this if the pronoun is a D […]. So in the basic case, it looks like we should treat pronouns as being of category D”.30 All the construction presented above are called determiner noun phrases. They are determiners because determine a specific group of people:
we determines a group in which also the speaker is included; you determines a group in which also the receiver is included.
This seems the only case that let pronouns be directly the head of a whole sentence. In (4.14) there is a more complex example; note that there is no specifier. (4.14)
In (4.14) the pronoun we is the head, it has a complement that is the whole NP and cannot have a specifier, e.g. Also us students of physics (also=AdvP=adjunction, because can be reordered in the sentence).
CAS LX 522 Syntax I lecture slides by Prof. Paul Hagstrom (Dept. of Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures) Boston University
However, the structure in (4.14) is just an hypothesis because it is not universal, since in French we children is nous les enfants. Moreover, we can consider the phrase as a DP only for structure Pro + N, instead if the structure is Pro + P, the pronouns do not function as a determiner anymore, but as an usual NP formed by a Pro, like in: us with a beard, inspired from the Italian one: noi con la barba. In Italian we can also hear sentences like noi cicciottelli, where the Pro is followed by an A, differently from English (*we fats). But this happens because in Italian the adjectives morphologically have gender and number and can stay without a noun. To conclude we can state that within the X-bar theory pronouns can be specifiers, head and dependent in a complement. Moreover when they are taking the role of specifier or complement can have a modifier that modifies them.
4.4 The clausal substituted by it and the pseudocomplement
In the syntax of both the sentences (4.15b), the pronoun it replaces the clause in the position of the subject, and the clause is shifted to the right. (4.15) a. b. a. b. word it is linked. (4.16) That Jane sold her car surprised Bill. It1 surprised Bill [that Jane sold her car]1. Which theory should you adopt is unclear. It1 is unclear which [theory you should adopt]1.
We will assume that the clause becomes the right part of the verb phrase with which the
We shall refer to the word it used in this way as a clausal substitute. This represents one of many possible examples in which a pronoun substitute not only a NP, but a sentence (formed by more than one noun phrases). Syntactically speaking the clause in its new position is defined as a “pseudocomplement” by Baker. By this last name we mean that the clause is not interpreted as a complement of VP , nevertheless occupies a position that is appropriate for a complement of VP. The fact that that can occupy a pseudocomplement is related to the fact that it can occupy the position of subject. An exception is that gerundive cannot be pseudocomplement linked to the subject it, see (4.17b) 31. Notice than in the cases like in (4.17a) the COMPlementizer phrase is really a complement. These two examples are about the verbs seem and appear: (4.17) a. b. a. b. It1 seems [that John has identified the problem]1. *That John has identified the problem seems. It surprised us that John went to town ?It surprised us John’s going to town.
The reason why verbs such as seems and appears cannot be shifted as in (4.17b), but surprise can, is that the former verbs do not assign a thematic role to the position of the subject, consequently the order is inverted. Differently form English in Italian the it pronoun is a null subject pronoun in any examples.
The notion of C-command reported from Reinhart (1976) is a relationship of dominance (a node dominates another if it is above it in a syntactic tree). (4.18) Node A c-command node B in a phrase marker iff (=only if) • • • A does not dominate B B does not dominate A every (braching) node that dominates A also dominates B In this syntactic scheme (4.18) S does not c-commands anything, V c-commands A; A c-commands V and its constituents B, C, P, D; B c-commands P, C, D. The notion of c-command is crucial to focus on the binding theory.
Baker, English Syntax, p 236
4.6 What is the binding theory
According to Büring “binding theory restricts the distribution of NPs that have the same referent,” but we will see that there are also non-referential NP. “We will indicate sameness of reference, coreference for short, by coindexing; that is, coreferent NPs carry the same index, for which we use integers throughout.”32 Therefore, in (4.19) the two NPs the king and he corefers because they have the same index. At any rate within the binding theory other indexed will be introduced, like the distributivity operator (see section 4.10). (4.19) The king1 visited the queen, then he1 left the castle. The king=NP1=referent/antecedent He=Pro=NP2=coreferent He and the king are coindexed. In (4.19) indices are not part of the linguistic data, but merely devices to predict the data, in particular the range of possible interpretation. We will consider three types of NPs defined by Chomsky (1981): • • anaphors: reflexives and reciprocal (e.g. himself, herself, each other, etc.) pronominals: non-reflexive pronouns (e.g. I, you, her, our, us, etc.) r-expressions: full NPs including names (e.g. Peter, the dog, an Italian man)
Initially, we catalogue these tree types of NPs mainly to distinguish reflexive pronouns from other NPs, because we will see that they have a particular behaviour. In Büring’s definition there are a few technical terms, such as coreference, which means to give the same semantic value of a variable to the pronoun. We check if coreference is allowed by substituting the Pro with the NP to which it refers. This will brought us to have a semantically correct sentence, but with an incorrect syntax, e.g. John1 looks himself1 in the mirror=*John looks John in the mirror. Apparently the incorrect sentence would be correct only if we are talking about two different Johns. Therefore it is syntactically imperative to use the pronoun. According to Reinhart there are three possible coreference relation: obligatory coreference (John1 washes himself1), obligatory non-coreference (She1 adores Anne*1/2’s professor), optional coreference (She1 is in her1/2 room). Apparently, coindexing between a pronoun and his anaphoric referent means assigning to the pronoun the same semantic value as the anaphoric referent. Actually, in the cases in which a substitution is possible coindexing is the same as coreference, but let us consider a pronoun in a sentence with a quantitative noun phrase (QNP) like in (4.20a). The
Büring D. Binding Theory. p. 1
logic representation of (4.20a) is expressed in (4.20b) by the lambda operator which delimits the conditions that make (4.20) true. (4.20) a. b. Ogni uomo rispetta la donna che lo ha sposato. Ogni uomo [λx. x rispetta la donna che ha sposato x]
(true if x is male and among other xs) Notice that in (4.20) there is coindexing but not coreference, because if we assume indexing as coreference, substituting the NPs we would obtain a semantically incorrect sentence. To clarify let us look at the same example translated in English (4.21). (4.21) a. b. [Every man]1 respects [the woman]2 who2 has married him1. Every man β1 respects the woman β2 who2 has married him1.
According to the indexes given in (4.21a) substituting the Pro with the NP we have the phrase: Every man respects the woman the woman has married every man. The sentence obtained is semantically different from the one expressed by the logic function in the Italian example in (4.20b)33. Definitely, in (4.21a) it seems that there is a woman who marries more men. Of course Pro bound by the QNP every man in (4.21b) acts not as a referent, but as a variable bound in gender and number with man. This is a very important distinction in pronoun coindexing. For this reason we have to introduce another index subscript that we will represent as a βn and call it binder index. The index binder is represented in the X-bar theory as in (4.23). The tree in (4.23) expresses the Index Transfer rule of representation. (4.23)
A clear and complete explanation between corefence and binding is given by Bach and Partee (1980): “Let’s summarize the places where something like coindexing is used in the literature: 1. The same pronoun appears in several places in a sentence: He said he was OK. 2. A pronoun appears together with a referring NP:
Defitto, D., Zamparelli, R., Le strutture logiche del significato, p.136
John said he was OK. 3. A pronoun appears together with a quantificational NP: No woman doubts that she is OK. 4. A pronoun occurs in a relative clause: …the woman who said that she had found the answer. 5. A reflexive or other obligatory bound pronoun appears in a sentence: John loves himself. Oscar is out of his head. It is really only in situation (1) (in some sentences), and (2) that it seems appropriate to talk about coreference. In every other case […] coindexing a pronoun with some other expression is a shorthand way of saying that the pronoun in question is being interpreted as a boundvariable.”34 Supposedly, for QNPs and Wh-expressions “logic binding has a sort of cognitive priority to the coreferential reading of pronouns (the coreferential reading is the reading that considers pronouns as free variable that receive «accidentally the same semantic value of the antecedent»”.35 Concretely, The X-bar theory representation of (4.21b) tree would be (4.23b). Notice that in the majority of the trees of this section we will omit the T and its connection TI, because their presence is irrelevant for focusing on pronouns now. Moreover we will use the notion of subject and object instead of specifier and complement, respectively, because we will deal with VP only. (4.23b)
Büring D. Binding Theory. p. 81 Defitto, D., Zamparelli, R., Le strutture logiche del significato, p. 140
The last important term is “antecedent” used by Büring: “A is the antecedent of B iff A precedes B, and A and B corefer”36, consequently we cannot say that in (4.21b) every man is the antecedent of him because they do not corefer, contrarily every man (the binder) binds him (the bindee). A large numbers of grammars have a naïve approach to the argument of pronouns, claiming that the use of pronouns is necessary to avoid repetition of full noun phrases, especially within a single sentence. Indeed, at the very beginning of this thesis we found out that the word pronoun etymology suggests an incomplete first-sight-meaning of the word, but with the example in (4.20) and (4.21) and others that we will see, we have broadened significantly their functions. To conclude, the notions of c-command, coindexing and coreference lead to the preliminary c-command rule of binding given by Büring: The first noun phrase (NP1) binds the second noun phrase (NP2) iff • • • NP1 and NP2 are coindexed NP1 precedes NP2 NP1 c-command NP2
Then NP1 is the binder of NP2, and NP2 is bound by NP1. However, now we shall sketch some other binding rules.
4.7 The binding condition A
Let us see a few examples where anaphors NP are allowed instead of pronominal NP: (4.24) John1 washes himself1/*him1.
Büring D. Binding Theory. p. 2
As already mentioned the sentence John1 washes John1 is syntactically not possible, although it seems semantically possible, because is understandable. (4.25)
NP1 c-command VP
Here (4.25) NP1 (John) c-command VP and all the other phrases that VP dominates, including NP2. The whole sentence is formed by just one TP. This leads to an assumption about the binding conditions A: “a reflexive pronoun must have an antecedent with its (e.g. TP) local clause”.37 Moreover, notice that the c-command condition prevents the cataphoric sentence interpretation: Himself1 washes John1. As we saw above (4.24) a reflexive pronoun must have to be bound in its local domain and for the preliminary c-command rule of binding it must be c-commanded. Nevertheless, whether we examine the sentences given in (4.26) and (4.27); in (4.26) the reflexive pronoun is not c-commanded, and in (4.27) it is not clear what is the bindee for the reflexive pronoun, indeed, none of the linguistic elements of the sentence (4.27) plays this role. (4.26) In himself, I think he can trust. (4.27) There was none in the room apart for myself. Actually, these are two cases that mark an exception to the binding condition A; the first (4.26) is Topicalization, the second (4.27), exempt anaphora. Topicalization means putting the object before because it is the most relevant information in the sentence whereas “exempt anaphora” is a different case clearly explained by Polland and Sag (1992). First, exempt anaphora happens if first and second person pronoun are involved (e.g. myself, yourself, etc.) In this case the pronouns do not need a referent because the addresser and the addressee are automatically participants. (4.28) There were five tourist in the room apart for myself addresser. Exempt anaphora can happen with third person pronouns. In this case a linguistic antecedent is always needed, but it may be not local. In this and analogous case the reflexive pronoun is referred to as long-distance reflexive. (4.29) John1 was furious. The picture of himself1 in the museum had been mutilated.
Ibidem, p. 6
Furthermore, the introduction in the sentence of a potential antecedent closer to the reflexive automatically blocks the distant one. (4.30) Bill1 remembered that John2 saw a picture of himself2/1* in the post. Finally, exempt anaphora is not universal because it does not exist in German, which does not use a reflexive but an accusative pro. (4.31) Hans fragte welche Bilder von ihm/*sich ich gesehen hatte. Has asked which pictures of him/*self I seen had.
4.8 The binding condition B
There are two more unconscious rules behind the use of pronouns, which concretely explain the reasons why in a sentences like (18), Anne cannot refer to her. (4.32) a. b. Anne1 respects her2/*1. Anna1 la2/*1 rispetta.
As already mentioned the anaphoric relation between the pronoun and Anna has to be excluded if we consider the case above. Semantically a pronoun is a free variable, that is to say it is not linked with any logic operator. In this case we find that inside the same sentence the relation is impossible. Consequently, the discovery of the use limitations of pronouns behaviour bring us to consider another principle. B principle: “a pronoun cannot be c-commanded by a noun phrase which has the same index within the smallest sentence that comprises the pronoun.”38 (4.32) (4.33)
In this example (4.33) the NP Anne cannot c-command the NP her, because are they coindexed. In other words, here (4.32) Anna c-commands lei in the same sentence, hence, they cannot corefer. However, note that if we substitute the pronominal NP with an anaphors NP sé stessa/herself the sentence works, because the reflexive must be in the local sentence.
Defitto, D., Zamparelli, R., Le strutture logiceh del significato, p.127
Smaller sentence=relative clause
Notice that in (4.44) and in (4.45) sé stessa/herself instead of she/lei does not work, because the anaphors NP cannot be in a relative clause, this would break the binding condition A rule. An exception to the B principle is given by (4.46) (4.46) a. b. Anna1 è lei1. Anne1 is her1.
Or in the English examples: (4.47) a. b. Peter1 shaved him1. I1 like me1.
Because these are cases of overlapping reference.
4.9 The binding condition C
The third binding principle is: “a non-pronominal noun phrase cannot be c-commanded by another noun phrase which has the same index”39. For example in (4.48): Lei1 pensa che Anna1 sia partita. This coreference rule block the following logic function in: (4.48) a. b. (4.49) a. b. *He1/John1 likes John1. *He1/John1 likes John1’s mother. He/John β1 likes himself1. He/John β1 likes his1 mother.
Consequently, the binding condition C obliges us to use a pronoun as bound variable:
Nonetheless, in some languages like Thai and Vietnamese there is an exception to the binding condition C: the same proper nouns can be used twice as in the examples. (4.50) cɔɔn khít wā cɔɔn chàlaàt John thinks that John is smart An ambiguous case that is not explained by the binding condition B and C is the one concerning the ellipsis of verb phrase (VPE), like in (4.51), here the reader can infer that the pronoun is a free variable (4.52) or bound variable.40 (4.51) Giovanni rispetta la donna che lo ha sposato ma Andrea no. Or an example in English: (4.52) Felix hates his neighbour, and Marx does, too. For VPE cases there are two readings: Marx hates Felix’s neighbour (strict reading) or Marx hates his neighbour (sloppy reading). For (4.51) Andrea può rispettare sua moglie (sloppy reading) or La moglie di Giovanni (strict reading). Generalizing over VP-ellipsis strict reading: “if a pronoun p in the antecedent VP is semantically bound, the corresponding pronoun p’ in the elided VP must be semantically bound in parallel. If p is referential, p’ must corefer with it.”41 In addition, notice that binding condition C allows for overlapping coreference for plurals where plural pronouns are employed like in (4.53):
Defitto, D., Zamparelli, R., Le strutture logiche del significato, p.130 Ibidem, p.140 41 Büring D. Binding Theory. p. 114
(4.53) John1 said that Mary2 represents them1&2. However, “NP1 may c-command a full NP2 if NP1’s referent is a part of a NP2’s, in which case we call NP1 a partial of NP [like in (4.53)]. This is, of course, not possible if the inclusive NP itself is a coordination containing a bound full NP [as in (4.54)]”.42 (4.54) Mary was hoping that she and Billy/they/*Mary and Billy would find better jobs. Another pronouns categorization is given by Geach (1962), according to him pronouns that can be replaced by a literal repetition of their antecedent NPs have been called pronoun of laziness (4.55), on the contrary, the pronouns that cannot be replaced exactly by the NP they replace, but by a paraphrases that have to be extracted from the previous context are called e-type pronouns (4.56). (4.55) Every woman β1 brought [her1 dog]2 to the party but left him2/her dog outside. (4.56) Every woman β1 brought exactly one dog2 to the party but left him2/the dog she brought to the party/*exactly one dog outside. Examples like these led Evans (1980) to conclude that it can be possible to interpret pronouns as definite descriptions. The description is a new sentence (e.g. VP) like in (4.56) that semantically differs from the NP. Other similar types of pronoun are paycheck pronouns (4.57) and donkey pronouns (4.58) that take their name from the examples in which they were firstly showed. (4.57) The woman who deposited her paycheck1 in the bank was wiser that the woman who deposited it1 in the Brown University Employees’ Credit Union. (4.58) Every farmer who owns a donkey1 beats it1.
Paycheck pronouns are comparable to non-QNP with sloppy or strict reading. While donkey pronouns are similar to e-type pronouns were it is a description of a donkey: the donkey of the farmer. 4.10 Binding vs Coreference
The difference between binding and coreference is that coreference is symmetrical between two NPs: if NP1 corefers with NP2, then NP2 corefers with NP1, whereas syntactic and semantic binding are asymmetrical: among the NPs one is the binder and one the bindee. “Binder” in syntactic terms: a c-commanding, coindexed NP. Notice that semantic binding always implies syntactic binding but that syntactic binding does not.
Ibidem, p. 192
About binding let us see that QNPs do not allow for coindexing without c-command (4.60), on the contrary, coreference without c-command is allowed (4.59a) and is called forward anaphora (or cataphora). (4.59) a. b. The secretary he1 hired thinks that Siegfried1 is despotic. (cataphora) He1 exploits the secretary he1 hired.
(4.60) *He2 exploits the secretary that each of the tenor2 hired. These examples lead to the bound anaphora condition (BAC, Reinhart, 1983a:122/137): “QNP and wh-traces can have anaphoric relations only in their c-command syntactic domain”. Wh-expression that are NP (e.g. which girl) can get a reading in which which girl can have an anaphoric relation like in (4.61), but not in (4.62). (4.61) Which girl β 1 told Susie2 that she1/2/3 had a detention? (4.62) Who β1 does he*1/2 love t1? In (4.62) t1 (trace) equals to who, because the logic order would be: he loves who? where he and who cannot corefer, since a wh-moved NP must not bind any pronoun c-commanding its NP’s trace. In a syntactic tree a trace is represented as in (4.63) where the wh-expression behaves like a complement. (4.63)
The trace is an index that must be considered also in cases of Topicalization (6.64): (6.64) John β1, I believe his1 mother loves t1. The case with Topicalization is called weakest crossover, the one with wh-moved is called strong crossover.
To sum up Quantified Noun Phrases and Wh-expression do not refer. Their only available interpretation is semantic binding. And semantic binding is restricted to configurations in which the QNP c-command the pronouns. A final word about binding has to be about reciprocals as binders. For the interpretation of a reciprocal pronoun (see 2.5) a distributivity operator is needed. (4.65) [John and Mary]ß3D ß9 told [each other3,9] that they3,9 should leave. D=distributivity operator (=each) Meaning= John told Mary and Mary told John= each told the other one of them43. They acts as plural with overlapping reference and the reciprocal each other splits up the plural, distributing the action on the participants. The X-bar theory tree for the distributing reciprocal would be:
4.11 Conditions of syntactic and semantic binding
Beforehand let us rewrite down in more general means the binding condition.
Ibidem, p. 211
a) A NP can bind into another XP iff NP c-commands XP. b) A NP can semantically bind into XP iff NP, can under the right circumstances bind a
reflexive in XP or block a non-reflexive in XP. The general caption XP has been employed instead of NP because this enables us to consider also the cases where a NP (Pro) substitutes a CP, such as the one involving it as a pseudocomplement. Table that summarizes the semantic and syntactic relations between NPs. SYNTAX Syntactic binding indexing (one No syntactic binding Non-coindexing
noun phrase c-commands (no c-command) the other) Semantic binding (binder is SEMANTICS a quantitative noun phrase Coreference (no quantitative noun phrases involved) Non-coreference
Coindexing between two NPs is: o o coreference if both NPs refer to the same individual semantic binding if the bound NP covaries with its binder.
QNP and Wh-expressions do not corefer, thus the only available interpretation is semantic binding. Semantic binding requires syntactic binding. That is to say that the binder ccommands the pronoun. Therefore (4.67) is possible, (4.68) is impossible. (4.67) I showed every boy1 his1 desk/himself1 in the mirror. (4.68) *I showed himself1/his1 friend every boy1 in the mirror.
Coindexing without c-command is always coreference.
In summary, QNPs, wh-expressions act as semantic binders and nouns, pronouns, definite NPs do not act as semantic binders. However, sometimes also some NPs (not only QNPs) act as semantic binding, e.g. (4.69). (4.69) We only know that Mary [β2 parked her2 car in her1 garage]. (Mary=NP) (4.70) Almost every woman [β1 only admitted that she1 [ß2 parked her2 car in her1 garage]]. In (4.70) both occurrences of her are bound; extending our terminology we would say that she, and her, are co-bound by almost every woman, while she mediated by the binding prefix ß2 binds the pronoun her2.44
Ibidem, p. 110
5.PRONOUNS FROM THE PSYCHOLINGUISTICS PERSPECTIVE
5.1 Words’ retrieving and lexical representation in bilinguals
In this section we will enrich the vast world of pronouns we already know through the psycholinguistic point of view. According to Scovel psycholinguistics is “the use of language and speech as a window to the nature and structure of the human mind” (Scovel, 1998: 4). Its areas of concerns are language acquisition and loss, and language production and comprehension; the view adopted is synchronic. Furthermore, this subject is characterized by an empirical and experimental approach involving language users. Given the close relationship between the mind and the language, psycholinguistics attempts to understand how words are stored in our brain. Evidence, like errors’ studies (Freudian slips, malapropisms: making a mistake changing two words that are phonetically similar but different in meaning, e.g. infallible vs inflammable ; etc.), says that when we think about a word, others words correlated in meaning and sound are also unconsciously activated. Consequently, our memory is not just a list of words’ meanings written in alphabetical order, like an ordinary dictionary; on the contrary, words are stored in our brain in a network of associations, like in smart visual thesaurus or graphical dictionaries. The familiar words are easier to retrieve than the unfamiliar ones in the network and are divided in function and content words (back to chapter 1.1 for the definition). The scheme below depicts a part of network for the lexical entry vegetable and its synonyms in British English: veggie and veg, (entry taken from Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary and thesaurus). (5.1)
We will refer to this scheme with the term “mental lexicon” coined by Oldfield in 1966. Mental lexicon is marked by access in terms of activation, but when trying to access a particular word, word activation involves, not just selection but also inhibition (or suppression of activation) of similar words in form (homographs and homophones) and in meaning (synonym and words of the same semantic field). Also studies concerning neurolinguistics have accept the hypothesis of the mental lexicon, because one neuron does not enclose information on its own, but does it only if it is in a network of neurons. For words such as walk there is one lexical entry which includes information about how to form walked, walking, etc. Moreover, collocation are stored as one single lexical unit e.g. spare time, heavy smoker45; or herbaceous plant and bamboo shoot, etc. showed in the example above (5.1). In the case of bilingual mental lexicon the opinions of scholars are different: the storage of the lexicon of L1 (mother tongue) and L2 (second language) is integrated or separated? And the lexical access is a selective access (input processed by L1 or L2) or nonselective access (both L1 and L2 systems are active)? Kormos in 2006 give us a possible organization of the lexicon in bilinguals, two models are in (5.2) and (5.3). (5.2) Subordinate (5.3) Compound
In the compound model (5.2) the L2 word is not directly related to the concept but passes from the L2 word. Groot (2004) calls this “word association”. On the other hand, in the subordinate model (5.3) both the words of the L1 and L2 are related directly with their concept. Groot named it “concept mediation” and observed that cognates are more integrated across languages and more likely to have direct concept mediation and that immersion would encourage more concept mediation. Consequently, more proficient users are more likely to adopt the compound model. In conclusion, the final conceptual feature model (Kroll & De Groot, 1997; Van Hell & De Groot, 1998) is depicted below (5.4). (5.4)
Based on the slides about language processing of the course in English Applied Linguistics (2011) held by Prof. Raquel Serrano of the University of Barcelona.
In bilinguals the words accessed are accounted for both in the compound and subordinate model. At any rate, concepts do not completely overlap among languages, especially the ones involving connotations, which differently from denotation carry an emotive and ideological component (e.g. Christmas in English and Navidad in Spanish). Psycholinguistics experiments have been conducted to test the hypothesis that speakers with compound model would process the language faster for a translation test (given that the connection between the L1 word with the L2 word) and that speakers with subordinate model would have been better in a picture naming test (given that the L2 word is directly connected with the concept), but the experiments did not produce any finding. Function words such as pronouns are likely to pass from a subordinate model to a compound model of representation in an early stage of second language acquisition because are very frequent. However, in cases of inference or syntactic attrition (the latter has been introduced in the discussion by Antonella Sorace and we will focus on it in section 6.4), like the inexistence of clitics in English, linguistic doubts can be postponed until the advanced level. Words are grouped together in our mind, forming large lexical sets interrelated among them: the semantic field set, the homophones’ set, the grammatical function set. At this point it is quite clear how content words are stored in our mind but it is difficult to understand how function words, such as pronouns, are. It seems that if the speaker has more grammar consciousness they will have also grammatical sets in their minds. For example, regarding pronouns can be said that just people who remember about grammar lectures at school will label pronouns as pronouns and thus recognize them, the others do not. However, this does not imply that people who do not know grammar categories do not make a perfect use of pronouns in language use. Actually, the distinction between “more” and “less conscious” language users is not so relevant focusing on processing, because there may be people with no explicit language competence, but great speaking ability and capacity to learn languages. This leads us to the question: how pronouns (or overall, function word) are stored in users’ minds? Let us begin claiming that everyone knows consciously or unconsciously more information about a word than what they believe. Let us see in the table below the information we know about an object personal pronoun him, and a content word like kill: Form Spelling Pronunciation Morphological information Lemma Meaning Content word: KILL K-I-L-L /kɪl/ regular verb “killed”, “killing” “to deprive of life” Function word: HIM H-I-M strong form /hɪm/weak form /ɪm/ Dative/Accusative case “him”, genitive case “his”, nominative case “he”, reflexive “himself” “to refer to a man, boy or male animal that has just been mentioned
Word class Syntactic information
or is just about to be mentioned” Transitive verb Direct or indirect object pronoun Subject + KILL (verb) Subject + verb + HIM (object) [or] + Object Subject + verb + object + preposition + HIM (indirect object)
At any rate, this table is more significant only for language speaker with a high competence in grammar. In order to trying to understand how function words are stored in less conscious language users we shall start form the concept of chunk, defined by Abney as “a single content word surrounded by a constellation of function words, matching a fixed template”. This linguistic element – crucial in order to focus on corpus linguistics and overall applied linguistics – strongly conveys the idea that the language is formed by modular units: it is not just a list of words and some sets of rules to join them. Chunks are defined “in terms of major heads. Major heads are all content words except those that appear between a function word (f) and the content word f selects, or a pronoun selected by a preposition” This model go beyond the X-bar theory model. Let us consider the example of chunks below (5.5b): (5.5) a. [AP [NP=Specifier a man][AI [A=Head proud][PP=Complement of his son]]]
Chunk [a proud man] Supposedly, in language users’ mental lexicon, pronouns and a large number of
other function words may be stored as attached to others content ones as in the example of a proud man. Nonetheless it can be argued that storing every function word, such as a possessive adjective, attached to every possible matching content words, such as a noun, would require a physical amount of memory that cannot be given by a brain. Consequently, this theory seems impossible, and thus the issue remains unexplained for non-highly frequent expression. Perhaps in our mind not only words but also syntax structures are unconsciously stored, these have only fixed function word but interchangeable content words, e.g.: x proud of y, where x and y can be every NP. If the variables x and y together are extremely more
frequent than others in a structure like, in the Catalan example, si us plau, which is an analytical structure formed by a conditional conjunction, a pronoun and a verb (literal translation “if you like”, non literal “please”); the structure can change in a chuck, as it happens in Catalan: sisplau “please” [oral]. A neurolinguistics experiment could be carried out with functional magnetic resonance imaging device (fMRI), which measures oxygenated blood in the brain and enable to establish correlations between the blood flow and brain activity, to understand if function words are stored together or attached in chunks. This experiment could also tests the hypothesis that a set of function words, such as possessive adjectives are store together with words of the semantic field of “possession”: property, ownership, etc; or for instance subject pronouns and seeing if are stored together and if are related to concept like receiver, speaker, addressee, third person, another person, audience, etc according the person and number.
5.2 Priming effect applied to pronouns
Given the possible lexical representations in bilinguals; the compound model and subordinate model, psycholinguistics studies have tested the evidence for priming effect. According to Groot priming effects is the “repetition priming” which means that the prior presentation of a word (the “prime” e.g. apple) speeds up processing of the same word if presented later; there is repetition priming also for semantically related words (e.g. apple primes orange). An experiment involving priming effect between pronoun and its lexical referent could be done to test the hypothesis that if in a text a “prime”, like dog, then is replaced by a pronoun, and thereinafter the word dog would show up again it would be accessed faster, because the pronoun either overt or null, having acquire the semantic charge of dog, should have function as a bridge between the first word and its later repetition. In theory, pronounmediated priming effect should occur also for semantic related words e.g. leash, bark, dachshund etc. Furthermore a more complex experiment suggested by Dr. Zamparelli could be carried out. Suppose that a person is asked to read an ambiguous sentence like (5.6), where the overt pronoun can refer to one of the two NPs, the dog or the car, or to a complete situation (if it is interpreted as this was (happening) in the parking). Suddenly, when the person reads the pronoun it, a picture of a semantic related object (e.g. a cat or a train) is showed them; this should speed up and, thus, favour the interpretation with the semantically related antecedent. (5.6) [[The dog]1 barked and [the car]2 approached]3. It1/2/3 was in the parking.
In other words, if the cat is showed, it will refer to the dog; if the train is showed, it will refer to the car. In the next section we will conceive priming effects slightly differently, since we will not focus on the velocity of processing a target which comes across a second time, but we will consider the preference of anaphora resolution conveyed by a prime structure.
5.3 Structural effects concerning pronoun reference
As far as pronouns are concern, the prime use of a certain structure with a null or overt pronoun generate a referential preference when the same structure comes up again, especially in cases of ambiguous anaphora. For example let us consider the example provided by the article Priming in French Anaphora Resolution: (5.7) a. b. Pierre1 a giflé Jean2 quand il2 était jeune. “Peter slapped John when he was young”. Pierre1 a giflé Jean2 Ø1 étant jeune. “Peter slapped John being young” The first structure (5.7a) contains ambiguous overt pronoun in a subordinate clause, the second structure is characterized by the phenomenon of the pro-drop in a participial ambiguous structure. The findings of the psycholinguistic research discussed in Priming in French Anaphora Resolution about pronoun behaviour are indicated by the very indexes in the examples: the overt pronoun in the subordinate clause refers to the object (5.7a) and the null pronoun in the participial clause refers to the subject (5.7b). It seems that “the participial construction and the subclauses [in (5.7a) a relative clause introduced by a wh-expression] share representations relevant for pronoun resolution”46. Given these assumptions if we mix the subbclause and participial construction in a single phrase we should find evidence in favour of a certain antecedent based on the syntactic construction and we would consider it as crucial to give a possible explanation of ambiguous anaphora cases; let us consider the following example in Italian:
Colonna, S. Schimke, S. Hemforth, B. Istanbullu, S. Priming. Priming in French anaphora resolution. p. 1
a. Pietro1 ha dato uno schiaffo a Giovanni2, essendo Ø1 arrabbiato, perché lui2 è molto dispettoso. “Peter slapped John, being angry, because (he) is very naughty”. b. Pietro1 ha dato uno schiaffo a Giovanni2, essendo Ø1 arrabbiato, essendo lui1 molto dispettoso. “Peter slapped John, being angry and being him very naughty”.
These examples show that given two constructions: participial and subordinate, “priming between the two construction types can be predicted so that the presence of the participial constructions will increase the preference for subject antecedents for the full pronoun in subclauses [5.8a] whereas the preference for the subject antecedent should decrease for the participial constructions in the context of subclauses with full pronouns [5.8b].”47 Therefore, priming effects exist for pronoun anaphora resolution: the person who encounters a prime structure with a certain referent is likely to not change the interpretation for that structure in later occurrences. Nonetheless, as been pointed out the existence also of a negative coindexing preference: the “inhibition of overt pronoun non-subject mapping may lead to occasional slower/more inaccurate access to this mapping when it is called for”48. The reader may experience negative coindexing preference reading the following sentences fast without looking at the coreference indexes: (5.9) a. b. Piero1 non vede più Guido2 da quando Ø1 si è sposato. “Piero hasn’t seen Guido since (he) got married”. [pronoun subject] Maria1 ha scritto a Francesca2 quando lei2 era negli USA. “Maria wrote to Francesca when she was in the States”. [pronoun object] In order to interpret properly the sentence (5.9a), the addressee has to retrieve from mind the structure: pronoun subject, and inhibit the structure: pronoun object. But if he/she after (5.9a) suddenly finds a sentence like (5.9b); the pronoun object become the appropriate structure, but it will cost to retrieve to mind this structure because of the previous inhibition of the same structure (this is called by Sorace negative priming effect). This could cause to conceive the sentence (5.9b) as pronoun subject or to slow the process of interpreting more correctly as pronoun object. Further evidence of the priming effect has been found in Spanish, the following case study does not involve ambiguous sentences. If a discourse is started by a speaker with an
Ibidem, p. 1 Sorace, A. Pinning down the concept of "interface" in bilingualism. p. 22
overt subject personal pronoun (SPP) the speaker is very likely to maintain it overt in all the sentences that form the text, like in example (5.10a). Conversely, if the personal subject pronoun in null the following pronoun is likely to be null (5.10b). (5.10) a. yo bueno alguna vez yo estaba caminando por campus y yo estaba hablando en inglés… “I well one time I was walking around campus and I was talking in English…” b. mi amiga eh: 60mpezó- como Ø estaba no despe- no desesperada pero Ø estaba buscando.. amor pero pero Ø no podía conseguir… “My friend eh start – like (she) was not desp- not desperate but (she) was looping for love but (she) couldn’t find (it)…” In (5.10a), overt yo is followed by more overt expressions of yo, while in (5.10b), null ella is followed by more null subject personal pronouns. Therefore priming effects affect language in use in natural discourse and the interpretation of discourse derive from what precedes (Travis, 2007). One of the tests in a psycholinguistics experiment on subject personal pronouns priming effect showed that Puerto Rican speaker of Spanish were likely to use an overt subject personal pronoun during an interview if the interviewer had previously used it. “The lowest proportion of overt SPPs in this context occurred after the interlocutor had produced a null SPP. This pattern held not only for questions addressed to the participants, but also for statements in which the other lexical items produced by the interviewer were not repeated, suggesting that the phenomenon goes beyond a simple interview effect.”49 Further experiments about pronouns carried out and “suggest that the organization of the internal lexicon is sensitive to grammatical relations between words”50. This has been observed in an experiment involving grammatical relations between function words and content words in Serbo-Croatian: the pronoun before a verb inhibited the verb forms which did not agree with the person of the pronoun involved, and facilitated the retrieval of a verb with an inflected ending that agreed with the pronoun .So the pronoun and its verbal inflected form are likely to be connected in the mental lexicon.
Abreu, L. Subject Pronoun Expression and Priming Effects among Bilingual Speakers of Puerto Rican Spanish. p. 6 50 Lukatela, G. Moraca, J. Stojnov, D. Savic, M.D. Katz, L. Turvey, M.T. Grammatical Priming Effect Between Pronouns and Inflected Verb Forms. p. 1
5.4 Interface in bilingualism due to pronouns between Greek, Russian and German, with English
In this section we will observe the main reasons for syntactic and semantic attritions caused by pronouns. Firstly, “Attrition” means that the learner experiences a loss of proficiency in one language because they use to speak more than one language. Some example studies of attrition on bilinguals’ speaker have been carried out by Antonella Sorace, these consider some differences in the use of pronouns that arise among the languages: Greek, Russian and German as L1 and English as L2. To deal with this subject let us secondly define the concept of “interface hypothesis” as the specific contamination model among speakers of two languages. In the 80s psycholinguistics clarified the concept of transfer that can be defined as the psychological process that leads to transfer into L2 structures of L1. “The interface hypothesis originally proposed that language structures involving an interface between syntax and other cognitive domains are less likely to be acquired completely than structures that not involve this interface.”
The interface hypothesis was first introduced by
Sorace while focusing on the different usage responses of overt subject pronouns between a group of Italian near-native speakers and natives, but we will map this experiment in detail in the next section. This has been the first study that later prompted the analysis pronouns behaviour in other languages. For example, in German both personal pronouns (er, sie, es) and demonstratives pronouns (der, die, das) can be used to refer to something previously said (anaphora). They are used similarly to null and overt personal subject pronouns in other languages. That is to say that, for instance, the coreference expressed by the demonstrative pronouns in German is the same as the one expressed by the overt subject in French and Italian (see chapter 5.3 example 5.7a): it tends to refer to the object; whereas the coreference expressed by the personal pronoun in German is the same expressed by the null pronoun in French and Italian (chapter 5.3 example 5.7b): it refers to the subject; we will refer to pronoun with such a feature as logophors, defined as “pronouns which are oriented towards a semantically or pragmatically determined class antecedents”52. The German logophors’ example is illustrated below (5.11): (5.11) Der Kellner1 erkennt den Detektiv2 als das Bier umgekippt wird. Er1/Der2 ist offensichtlich sehr fleißig. “The waiter1 recognizes the detective2 while the beer gets spilled. HeSUBJECTPRON1 /This-DEMONSTRATIVE2 is obviously hard working”.
Sorace, A. Pinning down the concept of "interface" in bilingualism. p. 2 Büring D. Binding Theory. p. 60
Wilson in 2009 tested two groups of German and discovered that the monolingual are surer about their preference of demonstrative choice than L2 German speakers. Another pronoun case study concerns Greek, which, like Italian, is a null subject pronoun language. The interference experienced by second learners of this language with pronouns is quite problematic because involves both the syntax that determines particular logic meaning of the sentence, and conditions dictated by context and pragmatics. For instance, in Greek a pronoun can be used as a contrastive topic to focus on a particular topic in the sentence, this phenomenon is called Focus and we will refer to this pronoun usage as “discourse-marked”. In the Greek example below (5.12) can be seen as the use of a pronoun esi “you” is responsible for a topic change. (5.12) Xthes esi sinandises ti Maria (oxi ego). yesterday you met-2s the Maria (not I) “Yesterday you met Maria (not I). [focus] The phenomenon of Focus (5.12) is different from the case of Topicalization. In the latter the emphasis is assigned putting the most important topic at the beginning of a sentence to centre there the attention, like in Those girls, they giggle when they see me. In Greek, object-fronting (which means putting the object before as exemplified in the sentence That programme I always watch) is used both for Focus (5.13a) and Topicalization (5.13b) like in the example below: (5.13) a. TON PETRO1 sinandise e1 i adhelfi mu. the-acc Petro met-3s the-nom sister my [Focus with indentificational focus operator e1] “It was Petro that my sister met” b. Ton Petro1 ton1-sinandise I adhelfi mu. the-acc Petro him-met-3s “Petro, my sister met him” “However, focus involves different syntactic properties from Topicalization. Only the latter require Clitic-Left Dislocation; furthermore, only focusing involves an operator-variable dependency, a unique (identificational) focus operator in the left-periphery [e1], it is subject to island constraints and it requires verb-raising to the left periphery (Kiss 1998).”53 Tsimpli and Sorace discovered that advanced Greek learners do not have problem with the
the-nom sister my
[Topicalization with Clitic-Left-Dislocation ton1-]
Ibidem, p 7
phenomenon of Focus, but that are unsure when they have to choose between an overt subject pronoun and a null subject pronoun in a context where a pronominal subject should be better. In Greek, like in Italian, as we will see in the next section, pronoun reference depends on the choice between the null or overt pronoun. Actually, in the Greek grammars should be registered that the overt subject pronoun brings to more topic swift and that null subject pronoun to less topic swift. (5.14) a. O Janis1 prosvale ton Petro2 otan Ø1 / aftos2 ton plisisase The Janis insulted the Petro when Ø/he him approached “Janis1 insulted Petro2 when he1/2 approached him” b. O Janis1 idhe ton Petro2 otan AFTOS2 ton plisisase. “Janis1 saw Petro2 when HE2 approached him” [capitals used to mark an higher voice] The studies of examples such as those above lead the scholars to claim that: “conditions of contextual and pragmatic appropriateness regulate the choice of overt vs null subject pronouns in null subject languages; the concept of Topic, which is crucial for pronominal anaphoric dependencies, is referential in nature and involves consideration of external conditions such as familiarity and prominence in context and interlocutor’s perspective (Gundel & Fretheim, 2006)”54. Lastly, has been noticed that “Russian presents an interesting combination of properties from null and overt subject pronouns; in this respect it is similar to Italian and Greek. However, overt subject pronouns in Russian need not to be discourse-marked as in the case with typical null subject languages. Instead, they resemble English subjects pronouns and as such, the use of overt subject pronoun in “not marked” compared to a null subject (Franks 1995, Avrutin & Rohrbacher 1997, Gordishevsky & Avrutin 2003).”55 (5.15) Vchera *(ja) xodil v shkolu yesterday I went to school “Yesterday, I went to school”. Thus, Russian is not a null subject language in the sense of admission or non admission of pro-drop. But null subject and objects are allowed in similar discourse contexts. Anyway, Russian learners of Greek will overuse overt subject pronouns.
Ibidem, p.8 Tsimpli, I.M. and Sorace, A. Differentiating Interfaces: L2 performance in syntax-semantics and syntax-discourse phenomena. p. 2
To conclude let us say that “English, the language with the most economical syntaxpragmatics interface system for subject pronouns (null subjects are typically not allowed), is assumed to influence the language with a more complex interface system (Italian, Spanish); null subjects are allowed alongside overt pronominal subjects where their distribution is regulated by pragmatic constraints”56.
5.5 Syntactic attrition for near-native Italian (L2) in interpreting sentences with pronouns
To begin it is important to underline some syntactic differences between Italian and English. The first one is that Italian allows null subjects in finite clauses whereas English lacks this option, as shown by the example below (5.16): (5.16) È partito. is-3s gone-M “He left” *Left. No postverbal subject is possible in English (5.17). (5.17) È partito, Giovanni. is-3s gone-M, John “John left” *Left, John. The second difference, which is more semantic than syntactic, as the previous ones, involves pronoun Focus use (5.18a) (see previous section, 5.4 for the definition). (5.18) a. Chi ha abbracciato Minnie, Paperino o Paperina? Ha abbracciato LUI [+ focus] “Who did Minnie hug, Donald or Daisy? She hugged HIM.” b. Che cosa ha fatto Minnie a Paperino? L’ha abbracciato. [no Focus] “What did Minnie do to Donald? She hugged him [clitic]” The Focus effect in English can be conveyed with intonation, stressing pronunciation of the pronoun. As far as pronoun usage is concerned, Italian English bilingual children were found to overuse overt subject pronouns from the same early stage of language as others bilingual kids that had to deal with a pro-drop and non-pro-drop language.
Now let us move on to the psycholinguistic study carried out by Sorace and others linguists on the backward and forward anaphora (or cataphora) of overt and null subject pronouns. Two groups have been tested: the first comprises near-native Italian speaker and the second is formed by native Italian speaker (control group), who also spoke English at near-native level. The speakers were asked to choose among different pictures of the ongoing situation and link them to the sentences that had just read. The study revealed that null and overt pronoun references are sometimes different for the two groups: this confirm that pro-drop is a linguistic phenomenon than cannot be fully mastered even at a near-native stage of language. Therefore, pro-drop is responsible for semantic attrition. Let us now analyze the data collected during this experiment. For every example sentence the indexes were given that show the preference of pronoun interpretation for the sentence, as well as the conceptual image that the sentences convey to the users and a graphic that Sorace had included in her article to see the agreement rate between Italian native and Italian near-native in order to identify the most ambiguous cases that could lead to semantic attrition. The first example is: (5.19) Quando Ø1 attraversa la strada, l’anziana signora1 salute la ragazza2. When crosses the street the old woman greets the girl. “When (she) is crossing the street, the old woman greets the girl”.
This example clearly show an agreement of pronoun preference between the control group and the experimental group: the preference converges in the same preference. Whether the null subject pronoun is the understood subject of the independent clause the coreferent will be the subject of the following one. A more ambiguous case is when there is an overt subject pronoun in the independent clause. (5.20) Quando lei3 attraversa la strada, l’anziana signora1 saluta la ragazza2. when she crosses the street the old woman greets the girl.
“When she is crossing the street, the old woman greets the girl.”
This case study can be argued to be more confusing because some participants of the experimental group are unsure about the coreferent of the overt subject pronoun: for some is referring to another noun previously mentioned in the discourse, for others to the object and for the minority to the subject. Whereas the control group are more confident and believe it refers to another referent. (5.21) L’anziana signora1 saluta la ragazza2 quando Ø1 attraversa la strada. the old woman greets the girl when crosses the street “The old woman greets the girl when she is crossing the street”.
We have already found sentences with a similar construction in the section about priming effects and attrition in Greek. Here the findings are confirmed: both groups express a preference that the null subject pronouns in the second sentence has to refer to the subject.
However, surprisingly, we discover that this preference has been particularly highlighted not by native users but by near-native user: this is surprising. “We hypothesized that the experimental group may treat the subordinate clause as a non-finite one (as in the English sentence The old woman greets the girl when crossing the street) in which case the matrix subject is necessarily the controller of the null subject in the subordinate clause.”57 (5.22) L’anziana signora1 salute la ragazza2 quando lei2 attraversa la strada. the old woman greets the girl when she crosses the street “The old woman greets the girl when she is crossing the street”.
In this last sentence it is shown agreement between the control group and the experimental group: if in the subordinate clause there is a backward anaphora, an overt subject pronoun is very likely to be taken to refer to the object. To conclude, the general “result is consistent with our original prediction that the interpretation of overt pronouns will show attrition effects: the experimental group is showing a significantly greater tendency to allow an overt pronoun to be interpreted as a continued topic”58.
List of symbols and abbreviations:
*= incorrect sentence < derive from amount to A= a variable A= adjective ACC= accusative case Adv= adverb AdvP= adverb phrase AP= adjective phrase B= another variable β, B= binder index
Tsimpli, T. Sorace, A., Heycock, C. and Filiaci, F. First language attrition and syntactic subjects: a study of Greek and Italian near-native speakers of English. p.273 58 Ibidem, p.273
c-command= constituent command CP, That-P = COMPlementizer phrase D= determiner D= distributivity operator DP= determiner phrase fMRI= functional magnetic resonance imaging GEN= genitive case iff= if and only if L1= mother tongue language, first language, native language L2= second language, auxiliary language LocP= locative phrase ME= Middle English ModE= Modern English MotP= motion phrase N= noun NP= noun phrase NP’= another noun phrase Ø= null pronoun, pro-drop OE= Old English P= preposition PP= prepositional phrase Pro, p= pronoun p’= another pronoun QNP= quantitative noun phrase S= sentence SOV= subject-object-verb structure SPP= subject personal pronoun SVO= subject-verb-object structure T= tense or auxiliary TP= tense phrase V= verb VP= verb phrase WP=complement x= any noun X= head XI, X’= phrase at a barlevel projection. XP= every kind of phrase7 YP= adjunction ZP= specifier λ= lambda operator
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