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Some issues in the theory of resumption:

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Abstract

This article broaches the issues raised by resumptive pronouns and resumptive dependencies across typologically unrelated languages and discusses some of the analytic proposals that have been advanced in a period going from Ross&#8217;s (1967) dissertation to the present. Up to the early 1990&#8217;s, research on resumption has endeavored to discover the principles responsible for the divide between gap constructions and resumptive constructions, confronting the latter with the standard diagnostic properties of movement. It soon appeared however that the syntactic behavior and interpretive characteristics of resumptives pronouns considerably differ from one language to the other and that only in a restricted subset can the syntactic relation between a resumptive pronoun and its peripheral binder be said to be substantially analogous to the relation between a trace and its <i>wh</i>-antecedent. On the other hand, the pronominal character of resumptive pronouns clearly manifests itself in some languages (see the Highest Subject Restriction). The advent of the Minimalist Program marks a radical change of perspective. With the incorporation of the Agree operation and the notion of phase into the theory, it becomes possible to look at the connection between the resumptive and the periphery from a new perspective and to define chains whose links are connected by Agree, rather than by Move. But the Agree-based accounts of resumption meet with serious difficulties. New movement analyses of resumption have also been proposed. Whichever choice is correct, additional assumptions are required to account for the reconstruction properties and interpretive characteristics of resumptive constructions. The claim that resumptive pronouns have the semantic properties expected from pronouns rather than gaps cannot be maintained in its strong form. First, different classes of pronouns show different reconstruction behaviors and react differently to quantifier binding. A promising approach consists in assigning to weak and strong pronouns different statuses and in assigning to weak pronouns the internal structure of definite descriptions. Second, the semantic properties of resumptive pronouns in the contexts where they are optional show that their interpretation also depends on whether they are in competition with a gap or with another pronominal form for the realization of a variable in a given position.

References

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